Does Structure Stifle Creativity?

copyrighted by Nita Leland

What happens to your creative spirit if you place so much emphasis on formal design? Do rules and organization interfere with having fun and letting yourself go?

Not at all. Creativity doesn't merely tolerate boundaries--it requires them. As Rolo May, psychologist and author of The Courage to Create, said, "Creativity is best when it has limits, which force the 'dream' into useable form."

When you plan before you create, you have more freedom for your creative impulses, less need to interrupt your work to make design decisions. Organize the big things and the little things fall into place.

When you design first, you put what is really important--yourself--into your work. And, what is more important, when you know the rules, you can break them more creatively.

Students often ask, "How do I know when my artwork is finished?" Good question.

Without a plan it's hard to tell. Design helps you get off to a good start and signals when you have finished.

In the classroom, many students are in such a hurry to start working that them miss the excitement of creative planning. Artistic freedom functions best within a framework. Design enables you to make art spontaneously and intuitively.

In his foreword to Form, Space and Vision by Graham Collier, author Herbert Read wrote: "Spontaneity is not enough--or, to be more exact, spontaneity is not possible until there is an unconscious coordination of form, space, and vision."

Planning and structuring your work won't stifle your creativity. It isn't the use of design rules that limits creativity, it's lack of artistic vision.

Design helps you focus on your vision. What makes your art creative is using design to express your individuality. Each of us manipulates the elements and principles of design in a different way.


Nita Leland author of the New Creative Artist a Guide to Developing Your Creative Spirit, page 81, "Does Structure Stifle Creativity?". Reprinted with permission. Check out Nita's inspirational website Exploring Color & Creativity. "Tap into your creative process and renew your creative spirit."




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