Creative Something


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When can you call yourself creative?

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Calling yourself “creative” is certainly a popular thing to do.

Creativity is – after-all – a much-needed resource.

But when everyone believes they’re creative, the word becomes diluted. Confusion sets in. What does it truly mean to be creative?

Is it enough to be a designer or musician? If I pickup a marker and write some fancy words, will that make more a creative? Is the man who doodles sketches in his notebook during boring meetings more or less creative than the team of engineers who produce revolutionary rechargeable car batteries? Whose to say?

Ultimately being “creative” requires that you produce ideas that are original and valuable, of course. But when nothing is original and when we’re forced to ask: “valuable for who?” calling yourself creative becomes muddy water.

So, is it fair to call yourself a creative if you haven’t invented a new standard for tech production? Can a starving artist who sells only one painting a year (for just a few bucks, nonetheless) still be considered creative? What about the amateur writer without a book deal, or even really a completed chapter, is she creative too?

I’m going to say yes, as long as the thinking is there.

Steve Jobs was right all along: creativity isn’t about revolutionizing the world, it’s about thinking different. If you just so happen to invent something world-changing or create a masterpiece that sells for millions of dollars, that’s just icing on the cake.

But if you have the guts to pursue the path least followed, to ask questions nobody is asking, to daydream and doodle and sing and design like nobody else is, go ahead and call yourself creative. If that’s the case, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course you’re creative.

Photo by James Victore. Follow him on Instagram.

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A solution to feeling uncreative

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“I don’t feel very creative.”

Whenever I hear someone say that (or when I catch myself thinking it) I ask the question: what are you working on that allows you to be creative?

If you’re not tackling a creativity-invoking project at work or on the side – or if you’re not attempting to do something out of the ordinary as a hobby or out of sheer tinkering – then you’re not going to feel creative. We call this “routine.”

There’s unfortunately a common confusion between not being creative and not having something to creatively explore.

The former is a fallacy anyway, of course you’re creative. Anyone with a healthy mind has the capacity to be creative under the right circumstances.

Not having something that allows you to express yourself creatively is typically what causes us to feel uncreative, even though it’s not true.

The solution to feeling uncreative is straightforward enough: find something new to work on.

It can be anything. Big or small, a project at work or school or a side project. Something for money or fame or simply to scratch a childish itch of wonder.

The old saying from Picasso makes a lot of sense in this context: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Find something new to work on, something you can really explore, and you’ll discover you had a lot of creative potential wound-up inside of you anyway, you simply didn’t have any way to express it.

Don’t wait for the right project either, start now with your next idea (or a past one).

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“In all creative work, there is a balance between what you want to give the world and what the world needs: if you’re lucky, your work is in the middle.”

The always great Austin Kleon in his interview with The Great Discontent.

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“Being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things, you’re an artist.”

Seth Godin in The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

Posted at 9:13 am by

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“Everything is interesting to someone. That thing that you think is bad is probably just not for you. Tools don’t matter very much, all you need is a sharp knife, but everyone has their own mise en place. If you need an analogy, use an animal.”

Frank Chimero’s advice for graphic design students (and pretty much everyone else too).

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“Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature—all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.”

Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

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