Seth Godin writes today about Creativity and he echoes something that I have always thought to be true: that boundaries or limitations fuel creativity. If you have ever had to design something (letterhead, website, logo) for yourself, you know how hard a project without obvious parameters can be.
The first time I came across this concept was when I was in college in one of my design classes. We watched a filmstrip (remember the beep?) with graphic design legend Milton Glaser. He made the point that limitations breed creativity. Limitations force you to find a solution. It could be a small budget, it could be a limited print run, or no images or the client's insistance of a horrendous font and color.
That is one thing I like about book cover design. Most covers consist of a front, a spine, a back, and (if a jacket) flaps. Everytime. And, you have to account for spine logo, bar code, website, credits, etc. Everytime. It is not unlike designing a billboard. You know the parameters. That's out of the way. Now, what are you going to do within those limitations?