Restrictions are a designer’s best friend

At the inception of any new technology there are tangible restrictions. One can see these as limitations or challenges to your creativity. The aesthetics maybe compromised to a degree but then there is a certain aesthetic to be derived from limited means, to paraphrase the poster designer Abram Games, ‘limited means, maximum impact’. At a recent lecture at the London College of Communication Professor Ian McClaren (part of the Munich 1972 Olympic design team) showed some of his work on early screen-based typography. By today’s visual standards it looked primitive, but there was a charm to it and when thought about in the context of the time genuinely innovative. The classic work of Anthony Froshaug and Armin Hofmann was partially defined by an imposed set of restrictions. In Froshaug’s case (during his private press periods) it was one typeface and often one weight. In Hofmann’s case he eschewed the ensuing trend for full colour reproduction in favour of single colour often black. I was thinking about this in relation to choosing a blog template (themes) and how some designers were embracing the peculiarities associated with this sphere of design. The next time you are bemoaning the lack of creative freedom just remember you are in a continuum of innovators who faced far greater restrictions. What are your views?

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