We recently stumbled upon the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon on a family outing to Barnes & Noble. This short book has been curated down to a non-stop creative kick in the face. As I was reading, I had to fight the urge to keep turning pages and slow down to truly mediate on the message. Additionally, I was faced with the difficult situation of electing what not to highlight on each page.
Out of the numerous highlighted passages, I want to pick one out of a hat and share my impression.
“Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea the that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.”
– Steal Like an Artist
“You have complete freedom!” is the most common response I get from clients when I ask what they are looking for in their logo. I used to love that answer, being able to do whatever I wanted seemed like the key ingredient to deliver the perfect logo. But through experience, I have learned: “complete freedom” is the key to a run-of-the-mill product.
We have all heard it said many times: “Think outside the box”. What we don’t think about is, in order to think outside the box we have to get inside it first. We need to ask for the walls, ask for the limitations to work within. In creativity, limitations mean freedom. When we are working within the right limitations we can produce our best work.
I challenge you to see your limitations as creative freedom to work within, not as a barrier keeping you from creating. As Austin says in Steal Like an Artist: “Don’t make excuses for not working–make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.”