Creative Boundaries

A comment made on one of my recent posts made me consider how I consider the idea of boundaries.

The theme of boundaries has been pushing my creative buttons… I have been thinking about all kinds of boundaries and barriers from the physical to the psychological and emotional. Are they a challenge to be met and breached, or a restriction to prevent us from moving on?

How do people define boundaries? The common thinking is, I believe, that boundaries are restrictive and a construction to keep people held in certain behaviours or status. In the words of Talking Heads, “Don’t fence me in.” Hence the need to express freedom, to rebel, to become an individual. Which makes me think of Monty Python.

“You’re all individuals,” says Brian.

“Yes, we’re all individuals,” parrots the crowd.

“I’m not,” says one intelligent individual.

Or in the epitome of 1950s rebellious expression, “Rebel Without A Cause.”

“What are you rebelling against?”

“What have you got?” says James Dean.

In regards to boundaries I’ve never thought of them as an either/or proposition. For me they are both a restriction and as a challenge to be met.

Boundaries act as a restriction, a defining marker point. Think of the fence that delineates your property from the neighbour’s. Therefore boundaries in this sense serve as a means of knowing the limitations and confinements of who we are. They provide a definition, a discipline, providing a sense of safety and comfort.

Boundaries also act as a challenge to be met. Once we understand why the boundaries are put in place, and how we operate within them, can we transgress or expand them. We can push the limits, positively and negatively, to expand on our own sense of self.

The creative person needs both sets of boundaries.

Boundaries are the ways we learn, learning and knowing the rules, history and traditions of our chosen creative field. Only then can the boundaries be transgressed, challenged and extended. 

The boundaries imposed upon us (physical, psychological, emotional, mental, spiritual) and the boundaries we impose upon ourselves are the topic for another post.

Boundaries define who we are, what characteristics we want to keep as permanent territorial markers in our lives and ones we want to challenge and extend.

In the words or Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

1. Boundaries give us defined parameters when we first learn a creative art.

2. Those boundaries are a means of helping us learn and define our craft, to begin to excel at it, to find our voice.

3. When we are comfortable we can begin to push and extend the boundaries, comfortable in our sense of self and our art.

What are your thoughts? Are boundaries a help or a hindrance to your developing creativity?


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