Viewing limitations as catalysts for creativity

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The most common reaction to being faced with a potential limitation is to try to find a way to overcome it. Yet Phil Hansen, an artist who has struggled with many challenges in his life, is arguing that limitations should not be fought against but rather accepted and worked with. Hansen’s ideology, as he explains in the TED Talk video below, revolves around the idea of embracing ‘limitations’ as sources of creativity. While in art school, Hanson developed a shake in his hand, caused by years of dedication to his work and a symptom of permanent nerve damage. The development of the shake, Hansen states, was the “destruction of my dream of becoming an artist.” However, Hansen came to find that he could not truly live without his passion, and began using the hand tremor as a push to make works of art different than anything he has previously created. He worked with larger materials, different mediums, and started assigning himself limitations regarding his work to spark his creativity. According to Hansen, “Embracing the shake for me wasn’t just about art and having art skills. It turned out to be about life, and having life skills.” Why should one struggle with and attempt to overcome a limitation, when it can be a catalyst towards growth? As Hansen states, “Learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations is the best hope we have to transform ourselves, and collectively, transform our world.”

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