So I decided to share a process from start to finish with you, as to how to make decisions for a project where you’re creating something. Like, when you’re creating something out of nothing. Or you have an object (in this case, a Mauve Monster) and you want to make it into something completely different, or to look completely different.
Creativity is really weird. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. with an idea. Other times, I thrash around mentally to settle on something. Aaaaaaand, it doesn’t happen. Until I’m brushing my teeth. Or taking a shower. Usually running water is involved for some strange reason. And of course in situations with running water, paper or a laptop are not nearby to jot down or draw an idea! Drives me nuts.
I think it’s harder when the whole world is wide open for an idea. I think it’s useful to have constraints that narrow the possibilities. You might think constraints would not help creativity. I think they do. Because constraints make it easier to actually decide what to do while leaving many possibilities still available to you. It might also depend on how you work and make decisions. Imagine being a kid in a candy store. Are you the kid who can make a beeline to your favorite salt water taffy flavor? Or are you the kid who would fly about the store like a bee, visiting all the different candies? And what if mom or dad told you that you can choose only one candy? How easy would that be for you? If it’s hard to choose, then it’s good to have some constraints, like choose from the jars of hard candies.
Let’s look at an example of how this works …
So there’s this cat-hair covered Mauve Monster in my house.
I’d rather have it look a bit different. A lot different, really! It’s been sitting in the basement for a few years while I wondered what to do with it. I debated sewing a mix of different fabric patterns together, like a slipcover, to cover it up. But I never took any action.
Then this contest came along and I was invited to participate. It involves using ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape from 3M in the project. So, okay, there’s a constraint. And that helps narrow down the whole huge-humongous-ginormous world of endless possibilities. I could paint the ottoman! In some way that involves the painter’s tape! (Actually you could be really innovative and think of a project that involves painter’s tape without paint, but I’m not that creative. If you have an idea how to do that, please tell us in comments!)
The contest also limits spending to $100 on the project. Constraint #2, and it’s a good one. It’s always good to have a budget that forces you to be resourceful. That boosts creativity. Actually $100 is pretty generous for being creative.
So now I have three constraints for my idea:
- Use mauve ottoman
- Use ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape
- $100 limit (the ottoman was given to me for free so I’m not counting it in the $100 budget – it was likely purchased in the 1980s and who knows what a fair cost is!)
These three constraints still leave a lot of possibilities. I could get stuck with no decisions and no action. So I put a few more constraints on myself:
- Project will involve paint, some colors already owned
To keep cost down, I choose to use the small sample pots of Benjamin Moore and Behr latex paints. I already have some sample pots left over from previous projects so that helps decide the color palette.
- I found an inspiration photo
When it comes to deciding design and style, sometimes an idea comes to you out of the blue. Sometimes it helps to choose an inspiration photo. I don’t advocate outright copying. But an inspiration that helps you narrow down designs, then you add your own twist, is fine. Here’s my inspiration photo:
Those of you who are fans of the zig-zag Missoni fabrics might recognize this as Missoni. I am often inspired by high end things that I cannot afford, and usually I purposefully seek out inspiration from the higher end levels of design. This ottoman is at ABC Carpet & Home and regular cost is $795. It’s on sale for a bargain $596. :) Well if I had an extra $596 laying around, I’d probably spend it on a flight to Istanbul. Certainly not on an ottoman!!
It will be fun to see how my ottoman will be transformed with this Missoni ottoman as inspiration. There are a few details that interest me and they add some more constraints that help me make decisions:
I already have beiges and gray paints in sample pots. So I bought navy, lighter blue and deep salmon color sample pots of Behr paints. Because I see colors like those here.
I know I want to paint with stencils from the collection I’ve built up over a few years from Royal Design Studio. It’s so hard to choose which ones!! I’m debating whether to use floral Indian designs:
Or whether to use geometric and tribal designs:
Well, if it’s hard to make a decision, let’s look back at the Missoni ottoman which, as inspiration, is supposed to be a guide for decisions:
Revisiting the design inspiration makes it pretty clear which direction to go. I think what I’ll wind up doing – because I want a bit more pattern variation than this zig-zag delivers – is to use a mix of 85% geometric and tribal with a dash of 15% floral.
We’ll see how it shakes out! I’ll start by laying stencils on the floor in different combinations to see what I like, with this recipe of “mostly geometric tribal and lil’ bit floral.”
See how constraints helped to both inspire creativity and reach a decision?