You first need a box to think outside of it.
When approaching a new project, be it an identity or system for an experience, I establish parameters. Why is this the move? Am I not creating unnecessary hurdles for myself – stifling creativity, blah blah? Of course not ya crazy! Structure can be your best friend. It is the filter you use to weed out extraneous information, allowing your mind to truly be free and focused on viable solutions.
Understanding this has helped me form the practice of creating design principles for projects. These principles (often 3) are the constants I refer to when working through a problem or reviewing visual direction. I also share these principles with clients, painting a high level picture of my approach to their project and showing thoughtfulness (which is often appreciated).
Does this mean I ultimately stay within these parameters? Nah. I change course when appropriate. Maybe I have received new information which alters my perspective on the project. Maybe my initial framework became too stifling and needed to chill out a bit. There are many potential factors like these which call for you to act. I have found I rarely diverge far from my initial structure, but I keep my options and mind open when it is inevitably necessary.
All this to say, its okay to box yourself in a bit. This process can give you the often allusive gift of concentrated effort at the infancy stage of work. Remember, you need a box to think out of the box.
Thanks to Alyssa and Tori for reading drafts and making notes.