Remembering to be creative

Querétaro, México. Posted in making.

I designed this website in the browser. You can tell, right?

Constraints are meant to make us creative ... but whenever I try this lauded technique I invariably end up being forced into design decisions based on the tools at hand – divs and background gradients.

I appreciate the benefits of working this way. I really do. Content- and mobile-first are inherent which is a good thing. But it kills my creativity.


This time last year I was in Japan. In Japan, people dedicate their lives to becoming masters of their trade.

We visited a traditional knife shop in Osaka, a city that has a reputation for making the best knives in the world. There they explained that each knife is made by three people. The first person shapes a block of steel into a knife-like shape. The next refines the steel and sharpens the blade. Finally, the third person makes and fits the handle.

This is what I've spent the last 10 years doing. Learning my craft. Becoming technically good at making websites. Trying to make a complex process appear simple in the hands of its new owner.


Along the way I seem to have lost the creativity I started with. The creativity that comes with the naivety of youth. Of not knowing any better. Of an art school student making the most inappropriate of work without a care in the world. Of an 18-year-old footballer who doesn't think twice about single-handedly taking on four defenders and scoring an outrageous goal.

The Japanese know about simplicity, and celebrate craft. However, they are also an introverted nation. One that feels like a parallel universe moving to its own beat. Perhaps this is the key factor in its incredible creative output.

This is a reminder to be more creative. To start a project with a pen and paper and to forget about the constraints and best practice I have learned. To temporarily live in my own parallel universe of endless possibility.

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