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Design Rules: Change Your Perception of Design Restrictions

Hate to burst your creative bubble, but in reality, much of the design process is about following rules. From layout grids to brand guidelines, obeying standards is part of the art. While boundaries can feel obtrusive they can also push us to be more creative problem solvers. The world’s most innovative designers use constraints to their advantage, driving them to push the line.

This blog post is dedicated to helping you see project restrictions and requirements as creative obstacles. Starting with a blank canvas can be overwhelming, so lets celebrate the beauty of rules and standards.

Design Rules & 5 Tips for Pushing Boundaries

Starting with a blank canvas can be overwhelming, so lets celebrate the beauty of rules and standards.

Embracing restrictions as creative obstacles.

Next time a creative brief comes onto your desk, use the project parameters as creative fuel. This helps narrow down possibilities in the brainstorming stage by focusing your ideas. I like to start a project by creating a simple goal statement that guides my entire project from start to finish. When you have a well-defined mission, finding a solution is simple. Design is a form of communication. It has to be explainable. Allow yourself to have an answer for every decision you make. Consider adopting this approach as your first step and use it as a touch point to make sure your project is aligning with all requirements and goals along the way.

Design Rules & 5 Tips for Pushing Boundaries

Depending on the project, using parameters to push your creativity can be simple or quite a struggle. Here are 5 tips to help you use restrictions to your advantage:

1. Become an expert on your subject. Knowledge is key, so take the time to saturate yourself and do your research. Once you know your subject inside and out, you can easily embrace obstacles and restrictions. Your design will begin to solve problems quickly and push your work beyond the status quo.

2. Be open to new ideas and directions. Otherwise, you tend to fall back on your regular bag of tricks. Creativity is all about making new connections. Even if you’ve been working with the same client or brand for years, try to view each project through a different lens. Take a new route to your creative solution—not your own beaten path.

Design Rules & 5 Tips for Pushing Boundaries

Ads like this were real game-changers, and teach us to think outside the norm.

 

3. Learn from the legends. While it’s great to be up on the latest trends and tools, it can often be overwhelming. Consider looking at the great thinkers of the past—such as the Volkswagen “Lemon” advertisement. It’s simple yet shocking. Ads like these were real game-changers, and teach us to think outside the norm.

4. Look for inspiration in new places. Take a page from Picasso—don’t restrict yourself, and look outside of your discipline. Carve time out in your schedule to explore. Go to a museum, pick up a new novel, see a foreign film. Look at each experience in the abstract and find motivation for your own design.

5. Slim down the team. Collaboration doesn’t always lead to better work. Too many ideas can muddy the result. It’s great to get an outside perspective, but keeping a clear focus will help you stay aligned to your goal. Work with other people and consider their ideas, but don’t let them change the fundamentals of your direction.

Design Rules & 5 Tips for Pushing Boundaries

The 5 Obstructions pairs two legendary directors to create work under grueling restrictions.

When you embrace project restrictions as creative obstacles, you can start seeing every parameter in the positive. Whether it’s a deadline or a size requirement, focus on making your work more innovative within the given parameters. One of my favorite examples of this is the film The 5 Obstructions that pairs two legendary directors to create work under grueling restrictions.

Did you find this advice helpful? What restrictions do you find most helpful when it comes to your workflow? Drop us a note by commenting below. Stay tuned for more thoughts on design rules next month right here.

 

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