Limits Create Freedom

by Guest Blogger December 05, 2012

by Anne Pageau

When our beloved Ruminate Magazine was birthed more than six years ago, my challenge as designer was presented in just three words: black and white. Yes, an entire publication, meant to grab, dazzle, and inspire—designed in only black and white. (Okay, okay, and a color cover).

This potentially constricting design direction may have seemed frustrating upon first glance. But my mind was alive with possibility: How can I push this? In what ways will the absence of color allow complexity to melt away? How is color generally used as a crutch, and how will I overcome this? How can I create visual vibrancy to counterbalance the simplicity of a black and white “color” scheme? And most critical of all: Will I truly be able to pull this off in a way that upholds the high-quality content in this gem of a project?

These six-year-old questions are far from answered. In fact, they have expanded, grown, been altered, and deepened through each issue of Ruminate that we’ve all journeyed together.

In hindsight, I view this initial challenge as a starting point of sorts... a mark in the sand, a place to begin the exploration of restriction as liberation. The comfort of this limitation allowed me to begin – without the looming pressure that every option was available for the choosing, inviting me away from a strong focus.

On a personal note, I have felt a growing attraction toward simplicity, efficiency, and limited choice building under the surface for quite some time. This pull has become so strong that it began to shape my lifestyle in some unexpected ways:

  • Television? Gone. The mess of available channels and shows only cluttered my mind. My “must-see” shows are just a quick rental away.

  • Mall? Last resort. One-afternoon of Christmas shopping in our relaxed, personal, boutique-filled downtown takes care of the entire list!

  • Social life? Evaluated. (Yes, this is hard to write.) I am a one-on-one, deep relationship kind of girl. My husband is an all-inclusive, wide-net kind of guy. Our realization that attempting to fulfill both of these styles quickly led to burnout was a rough one to face. However, the relationships we’ve chosen to build into and live intentionally with have grown immensely in their scope. (And I’m pleased to report that since this evolution, I’ve found it much easier to engage new relationships, knowing that my “home base” of deep connections are always near.)
This theme, limits create freedom, has grown to influence many areas of my life, both personally and professionally. In the same way that "black and white" provides cohesion and continuity for Ruminate's layout, edited choices in my personal life provide head space for focused effort, mindful interaction, and spontaneous thought. My hope is that in the same way I've seen limits draw out authenticity and excellence in design (certainly not spotlighting Ruminate in this comment, rather referring to the linked examples below), I will continue to grow personally toward a more honest version of myself. One with a clear mind and focused heart, living into the contentment and opportunity that limitation offers.

Coralie Bickford-Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald Book Covers Blow, 'wich Identity System Fuzzco, Ruell and Ray Denim


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