December 04, 2010

What is Creativity? Part 1: "Voices from Everyday Artists"

I thought it would be interesting to begin the exploration of this question by asking everyday artists, “what in your opinion is creativity?” I opened the question to both short answers or well thought explanations; and anything from serious to amusing. This question was posed on two different graphic art website forums. Additionally, I asked a handful of my personal artist-friends from one non art website if they wanted to add their 2cents. As you read what others say, you may hear similarities. I am allowing these to be heard for the purpose of emphasis in what others think. In order to maintain neutrality on my part, I have ordered the answers alphabetically by name. All names are substituted with numbers. Those who chose to participate vary in skill level and artistic genre. Here are many of those answers:

One said, “Creativity is being able to do without thinking- and ending up somewhere you expected to be, and somewhere you weren't expecting to be; but [you] are equally happy with...”

Two said, “For me creativity is being in the mood for creating...[It is] the ability to see new things out of old things or recombining [things]... a sigh...It would be easier to explain how a banana tastes.”

Three said, “ I work in the nude with a team of monkeys around me...”

Four said, “see:   It's a very useful site for this sort of thing.”

Five said, “There seems to be definite moods of creativity, where I'm in the frame of mind to think creatively and can focus on that alone and not be distracted by other things. When in that mood, things seem to work.

Six said, “Creativity is something that is done with the right brain and over analyzed with the left brain... Creativity is what creative people [do] intuitively”

    Two said in response to Six, “What do you mean with intuitively? It is the Muses, those entities that whisper in your ear new idea's. Mine [my Muse] stinks by the way.”
Seven  translated said, “Creativity [is] establishing an idea into reality by means of (your) imagination”

Eight (edited) said: Creativity in the sense I think you mean it is a state of mind.  [If we] leave aside [the] sterile argument about whether this is a birth or a nurtured state; in essence it is a way of looking at things. There is nothing new under the sun. So striving to be new, I believe, is the wrong emphasis. It's more a question of making [the] associations between things that are unusual. This brings me back to the way you look at, and think about things.”

Nine said, “I finally figured out an answer.  Your question.  'What is Creativity?'”

    I prompted Nine for an explanation.

Nine said, “A dog may need to be creative to escape from a back yard, but when humans try to give meaning to their world through art, it is a much higher form of creativity. Part of that higher creativity would include asking, ‘What is creativity?”
Ten said, “For myself personally, creativity is really about expanding beyond the most obvious and going for something that's more unique or unexpected. Since a lot of so-called "creative" work--be it music, art, writing, photography, design...etc can be just "paint by numbers" and following the most tried and true templates, essentially regurgitating what others have already done over and over for decades, if not centuries, it becomes easy to just piece together your influences in the most obvious way and then call it your own. It's usually easy to spot works like that if you know the source of the influences.
    So essentially there are two levels of creativity--the first level is when the average person who was never exposed to doing anything that requires a lot of creativity starts to try his hand at it for the first time. We're not just talking about what's typically considered creative, since there are other forms of creativity in daily life that has nothing to do with the arts or entertainment or design, yet still require a lot creative thinking, such as programming, engineering, marketing...etc. At the first level, it's all about learning how to create competent works that's at least acceptable and not totally embarrassing. At this level the person if often struggling to just get the technical aspects right--the craft. Even if the person is innovative and imaginative, often the craftsmanship doesn't do the ideas justice and thus the work is not up to par overall.
    The next level of creativity is when someone has learned to master the craft to a certain level, and now concentrates on imparting a unique creative vision, and this is when the work becomes the most interesting. Often at this level, the creativity extends beyond just unique ideas, but also into innovative ways to execute the work. That is possible because the person has already attained an authoritative mastery of the craft, and now can start to break the rules or revolutionize the way things are done with new techniques and approaches, setting new standards and push the medium they work in.

Eleven said, “Creativity, like the word Art, is a much overused and so devalued word. It should be saved for descriptions of the finest example of the fruits of mans ingenuity and imagination, whereas it’s often applied to banal examples of popular ‘culture’ to the extent where true examples of creativity are often lost in the morass of loudly advocated and decidedly average achievement.”

Twelve said, “I don't really try to be creative but I think I have an OK eye on composition...I just love the natural world and that comes through in my photos.”

Thirteen said, “For me, the ability to convert my visions into tangible images. Also, the ability to make connections from seemingly random ideas. I always think of the first thing Six taught me many years ago without knowing [that] he did. That connection allowed me to develop a lot of my future ideas.”

Fourteen (edited) said, I don’t understand creation (small ‘c’). If I paint a picture, was it there before me?...Will it survive me?...But the creation was only there when the image was being formed. It ceases to exist at the very moment it exists. Although the image will fade with age, creation stops there. The painting [then becomes] a part of Creation.

    Also said, "A brief moment of inspiration when something new is added to the collective consciousness.”

    And also said, “Me. A long time ago. When I had hair and...creativity??”

    Two responded to Fourteen with, “So creativity has something to do with hair. 'Hmm', [this] is why these creative artistic types have long hair.”

Fifteen said, “To come up with something original, clever, and innovative. [This] would be my quick definition.”

Sixteen said, “Most creative things are derivative. Just as with all realms of human activity we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Many creative people have studied others or had some kind of influence in their life that they draw upon. The real talent/genius is in making that connection or leap that the rest of us can't make.
    I don't think applying the label "creative" needs to be reserved to those with stunning talent or making breakthroughs. I often see things in boring daily life that sometimes strike me by the creative thought that went into it, whether it's subtle or flamboyant.”

Seventeen (edited) said, Creativity is the ability to generate novel solutions to problems which also have value or appropriateness; and are outside of merely being different or fanciful. Ironically I find artists, generally speaking, are some of the most uncreative people. Sometimes relying on simply being different and equating that to originality. A lot of people confuse creativity with mutation and imitation. Creativity without innovation usually lacks substance- to me anyway. An artist’s unique personal expression does not necessarily imply that it is a creative act either.
    As mentioned, artists tend to retread ideas. The literary critic Harold Bloom in his book, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, gives a unique twist on what it takes to be truly original. He said “…authors of real power must inevitably misread their precursors' works in order to make room for fresh imaginings.”
    So, without a unique and appropriate resolution a creative work may not be so creative after all. Just another 'same thing' in imitated form.

Eighteen said, “In my opinion, creativity is coming up with an answer to something when you're stuck.”

Nineteen said, “I have lately become somewhat wary of the word creativity. It seems to have become an elusive gift that everyone aspires to and the certain 'creative types' are usually envied by the more mortal humans. Well, in my very humble opinion, creativity is nothing but self-expression. The way I see it, any painter, animator, musician, actor (etc.) good at his work and envied for being so creative is not doing anything but expressing himself in the best manner possible for him.”

Twenty (edited) said, My thoughts on creativity [are] doing something tangible with an idea conceived in ones mind. It could be something envisioned or perceived from another object. For example, should you find a unique design on the beach or in the forest and want to create your own impression of it. You can do so digitally by taking a photo, or use a carving knife and create it in wood.

Twenty One said, “Honestly I created the flock of seagulls hairdo in my bathroom when I was 13 before I ever knew what the band was or how lame they were...I thought I was so original and creative.  [When] I showed my mom...she laughed, showed me a picture and enlightened me about the band. I think in that moment of discovery I felt the most creative I [had] ever been. [When] my mom shattered my world [that was] the lowest. Now I just look back and laugh.”

Twenty Two said, “Creativity I would say is [the] ability to think 'out of the box' so to speak; to be able to go away from your usual routines and come up with new, fresh, [and] different ideas.”

If you would like to add your 2cents on givng an answer to the question, "What is Creativity?", please feel free to do so by leaving a comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment