Some examples of creativity enhanced through constraints are the De Stijl art movement, the music of the American rock band the White Stripes, and the novel “Gadsby” by Ernest Vincent Wright. Each establishes a clear set of limitations for constructing works of creative expression.
The De Stijl movement began in the Netherlands in 1917 and focused on a very limited set of guidelines for creating paintings. The style focused on only using primary colors and basic geometric shapes, a stark contrast to the vivid and sometimes garish aesthetics of other contemporary style trends such as Art Deco. By limiting the colors and objects that were allowed in the pieces, painters were forced to find new ways to express their emotions.
Similarly, the music of the White Stripes is constructed around using a very limited set of instruments and recording options to create each song. Starting with the first album, all the music the band created was played by only the two main band members using a limited number of tracks for recording. This forced each song to contain more driven and rich elements, instead of layering on numerous sounds to fill the space.
The 1939 novel “Gadsby” was written without a single use of the letter “E.” This constraint required the author to think constantly of new ways to phrase his story, as many words were not available to him.