Think Outside the Rules and Make Creative Choices

The saying “rules are made to be broken” applies most of all to graphic design and photography. You can’t be creative within a set of rules. In fact, rules should be seen as guidelines of what to avoid if you don’t want to fall victim to routine.

Getting Stuck Inside the box

Routine is an insidious little thing. You never see it coming, but you feel its effects once it settled in your mindset and your work. You will get hints along the way, until the day when someone bluntly say: “but this is boring – it looks like everything you’ve done before”. When this happens, you will have a hard time realizing where you went wrong – because you just played by the rules, didn’t you?

Time. To. Stop. Really, stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and read the following sentence carefully: Creativity is within you, but you just need to break the rules and set it free. Let’s take a page off the creative book of photographer Parker Fitzgerald. He takes simple concepts, such as portraits and photos of flowers and takes them to another level, by unexpected associations.

Getting Out of the Box

Portraits are a very simple affair, you just snap people’s faces, right? And then you do a bit of Photoshop to smooth out wrinkles and pimples and bam!, you have a portfolio of portraits, right? Actually, wrong. Portraits were done from time immemorial, in charcoal, etching, oil paintings. And they were never simple faces plastered in the middle of the cave wall or canvas. They were associated with other objects, like a felled lion, or a bunch of lilies or a basket of apples. They told you something about the person: he’s a king, she’s a servant, he’s a young crusader.

portraits 1 portraits 3 portraits 2

Your creative work must do the same, speak in unconventional terms about the idea you want to express. It’s a blooming business – so put in some ideas of vigor, life, strength. It’s a solid and reliable enterprise – like Mark Twain used to say “don’t tell that the old woman screamed, drag her on the stage and make her scream”. Instead of adding words to your design to explain it, just use imagery and make it speak.

Going Beyond the Box

But there’s one more lesson to learn from our inspirational artist of the day, Parker Fitzgerald. Ideas must never be confined to their explicit meaning. Creativity allows you some licence. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak put a rainbow on their logo, people told them they’ll never sell a single unit. But it was flashy, and catchy and people were tired of boring logos, so they loved it.

When an artist puts a bunch of flowers in an ice cream cone, it may mean whatever the viewer perceives it to be. Flowers are better than candy. Candy can be natural and organic. Candy can be made of flowers. Whatever, that’s the beauty of great images. They are open to interpretation.

parkerfitzgerald_kinfolk_02 parkerfitzgerald_kinfolk_04


Being creative is a form of freedom. It lets your mind soar and find something unique and worth sharing. It builds your individuality as an artist. Don’t surrender this freedom. Don’t get back inside the box.

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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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