Keep It Simple And Grow Your Art

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

– Charles Mingus

In June, I had a hernia repair surgery. I was confined to my reclining chair for several days. I started working on one of my forthcoming music projects on my iPad. I started adding some new tracks to the existing tracks. It didn’t take long to discover I was complicating what I’d already purposefully kept relatively simple.

Another Simple Example

Recently, I attempted to add categories to my Hip Diggs‘ blog. I’d started the blog with a simple one-post-at-a-time format. I also have an All Posts page. I quickly realized that adding categories was going against the simple structure of the blog. I deleted the categories.

These are just two examples of how keeping things simple created better art. Do you want to make better art? Do you want to be a better writer? Do you want to produce better music? I have a few tips for you. Read on.

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How Simple Makes You A Better Artist

You might have noticed that the featured photos with this post are very simple. Think about these images. The photographers had to restrict their shots. This limitation allowed them to focus on the quality of each given image.

I’ve discussed this idea before in my post, Limitations: Brian Eno On Ways To Get More Creative. Purposefully limiting your creative ideas or tools forces you to get more creative. Whenever you get more creative, you grow as an artist.

While I was recovering from hernia surgery I started a new recording project. I purposefully limited myself to the following instruments from Garage Band.

  • Hip-hop drums
  • Stand-up bass
  • Soul organ
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Brass, flute, clarinet

This might sound like an odd combination, but the end result was the beginning of what I believe will become my best iPad recording project. Limiting myself to these tools, forced me to get more creative. As a result, I grew as an artist.

Simple Works In Any Kind Of Art

Whether you’re a painter, a photographer, a composer, or a writer, you have the power to grow in your creativity. It’s simple. Restrict yourself. Limit how many colors you allow yourself to use. Limit how many words you use per sentence. You might be surprised at the results.

Another Ted Talk

In art school, Phil Hansen developed an unruly tremor in his hand that kept him from creating the pointillist drawings he loved. Hansen was devastated, floating without a sense of purpose. Until a neurologist made a simple suggestion: embrace this limitation … and transcend it.

Phil used the limitations of a disability to get more creative and grow his art. It’s the perfect example.

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