Constraints are the mothers of imagination and creativity

"Because the form is restrictive, the idea bursts forth all the more intensely!" Charles Baudelaire

The very first book that made me want to read was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The magic I found in this story was related to the idea of imagination, the beauty of interpretation and the creativity that they could produce.

Drawing and painting

At the beginning of the book, the pilot tries to draw a sheep for the little prince, but fails despite his best attempts. In the end, the little prince finally sees "his sheep" in a hurried drawing of a box. How could he manage to make me too imagine so many different sheep with such a rushed, basic and almost non-figurative drawing of just a box?

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Constraints have given rise to imagination

Following the Cuban Revolution, artists found themselves without the colour red. It is noticeable that many of their works mainly used greens and blues as a result.

affiche Cube postcastro : une foule d'hommes indentiques vêtus en vert

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To get around the shortage, some artists used corn flour mixed with merbromin. The superb poster “Besos robados” by René Azcuy Cardenas was made in this way.

Illustration d'un visage en gros plan, nez et bouche

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Budget constraints have given rise to art. 


Georges Perec was a madman, a madman with an overflowing imagination… In 1969, he broke new ground in literature with his novel La Disparition (A Void). He set himself the aim of writing a novel in French without the most common letter in the language: 'e'.

Marcel Proust's famous sentence “Longtemps, je me suis couchée de bonne heure” (For a long time, I went to bed early) thus became “Durant un grand laps, tôt on m’alita”. (For a long time, I was soon bedridden.) One can only imagine the extraordinary challenge Georges Perec took on, with each sentence taking on another dimension and generating new images.

The constraints of letters and words have given rise to imagination.Take Harry Potter, for example. The first passage describing the street, then the house and, lastly, Harry Potter in his bedroom (a cupboard under the stairs), painted a vivid picture in my mind. I also imagined the hideous Aunt and Uncle, and the disgusting cousin... The constraint of reading has given rise to my imagination.

A the cinema

A few months later, the film was released. Watching it for the first time, I was overcome by a horrible feeling: someone had stolen my imagination. I had created this world, crafting it in my own way, and I was very pleased with it, so seeing the story in images was frustrating. The film destroyed my creative efforts, with its huge budget: 125 million US dollars!

I realised then that when just reading a book, my imagination was given far more freedom than when watching a film. But no, this could not be my conclusion. I like films. I love films.But these images shattered the world I had imagined…

scène de film d'un quartier résidentiel de nuit

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In truth, I don't like films that overdo it. That's all. Too many effects destroy the effect. So I return to my classics.Take for example the masterpiece Mad Max, which brought Mel Gibson to fame. For anybody who is unfamiliar with this film made in 1979, it laid the foundations of what would become one of the most memorable trilogies in social science fiction. Portraying a future society governed by road violence, in a desert ravaged by nuclear war, the film creates a compelling post-apocalyptic atmosphere with simple and highly effective shots. This outstanding film was made with the smallest budget in cinema (approximately 350,000 Australian dollars).

Another very profitable film was the hugely successful Blair Witch Project, which was made with only 60,000 US dollars and a terrifying imagination. It is an exceptionally and relentlessly scary experience! The less I see, the more I imagine…Budget constraints have given rise to works of art.For a long time, artists have set themselves rules and constraints that are increasingly exacting and influential in the creative process.


In the area of music, an example is  Niccolò Paganini and his piece for a one-stringed violin. In Moses Fantasy, he set himself the challenge of creating a masterpiece using a single violin string!  He did so brilliantly, with this exceptional and majestic work.Constraints have given rise to creativity!  There are now various methods used to encourage creativity. The method created by Luc de Brabandere is similar to the idea of disappearance used by Georges Perec; it is a method without words.

The aim is to describe a business without using the words usually associated with it. For example, you could try to describe a car manufacturer's business without using the words "car" or "means of transport". Instead of thinking "Cars are a means of transport" you could think "Cars are an example of…" And then allow your imagination do the rest. For example, cars could be given as an example of concepts such as economic profitability, escape or freedom.And is it not freedom that has enabled us to push back boundaries even further? 


Take these nine dots as an example. The instructions are to draw nine dots on a sheet of paper in the following manner: Then, link up the nine dots with four straight lines, without lifting the pen from the paper. The constraint given here is very restrictive, so finding the solution requires imagination. And our imagination can only find the solution if we allow it the freedom to leave the box. Leave the box?!So, perhaps creativity was born from freedom after all.