The Art of Creative Limitations

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Why you should care

The beauty of limitations applies to not only the art of illustration, but also the art of life.

Write is an OZY series that features short readings and conversations, hosted by author Sarah Ladipo Manyika.

The delicate and precise watercolors of illustrator Lisa Brown are straightforward, yet remain whimsical enough to fire up the imagination in the way one hopes a good children’s book will, even for a tired, old adult mind. In this installment of our Write series, author Sarah Ladipo Manyika speaks to Brown — who often writes herself — about illustrating someone else’s words. In this case, it’s her latest illustration project, Emily’s Blue Period, written by Cathleen Daly and released last year.

It turns out that the limitations only add fuel to Brown’s creative fire. And a chance to peek inside her daily sketchbook reveals another source of inspiration. “Until you actually do it [daily sketching],” says Brown, “You don’t realize how much stronger it makes you.”

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