Creativity is the hot topic of 2019. Scan almost any magazine within the past six months, and chances are you will find articles on creativity. Some are fluffy click bait, but many offer decent tips on improving your creativity.
Most provide tips on becoming more creative. Is that even possible?
50 Shades of Creativity
Yes, it’s possible. There are at least 50 shades of creativity. It is NOT a one-size-fits-all concept. And your DNA doesn’t hold you captive.
Scott Barry Kaufman raised an interesting point in his Psychology Today article, Genius, Genes, and Gusto: How Passions Find You. A person’s natural endowment may explain between 22 and 36 percent of the differences in creative achievement in the arts and sciences. The flip side is that a lot of creative passion is because of things other than genetics.
Some component of creativity comes from heredity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to become more creative. You can. Marily Oppezzo, in her TED talk, states that creativity is a choice that any of us can make. However, your expression of creativity is unique.
Creative Work and the Creative Class
New York Times Magazine, in “Does ‘Creative’ Work Free You From Drudgery, or Just Security?“, defined the Creative Class. Judy Rosen called it “a catchall that takes in web coders, graphic designers, copywriters, actors, painters, D.J.s, cocktail mixologists, Instagram influencers and all the rest of the culture-and-information-industry professionals that the sociologist Richard Florida famously called ‘the creative class’.”
The creativity inherent in these job functions differs, as did reader comments to the article. There were a couple I thought valuable in highlighting different shades of creativity. The first is part of a comment by Tucker from Baltimore, Maryland.
Creative Expression from Baltimore, MD
“I am a full-time professional artist who owns a small creative company with 4 employees and the starving artist myth is just that – a myth. The majority of greatest artists in history have been shrewd businessmen, hard-working marketers, and managed large staffs of employees. From Michelangelo to Warhol, walk through the museum and with few exceptions, you will see the work of hard-working managers. If you treat it like a business, it will treat you like a CEO. Making art is work and the arts are a product every civilization wants and needs. It follows the same economic principals as any other business in the end. Poor economic outcomes usually reflect the artist’s own lack of self-esteem rather than the market’s need for the arts. I would love to see fewer artists statements telling me why you made it and more telling me why I should buy it as a basic start. I’d like to see more artists collecting and buying what they expect others to buy. “Starving artist” is simply an excuse for “lazy, self-absorbed, artist.” Get over yourself, get to work, stop whining, do what you love, and change the world.”
Creative Expression from San Francisco
Another reader (Jen from San Francisco) concisely compared and contrasted artistic (seamstress) and scientific (engineering) creativity.,
“I am an engineer and a seamstress by hobby. Both require creativity, but very, very different forms. Not all creativity is the same. Skill is the difference. What most people think of as creative work is skill based, one that creates a sense of flow. The song writes itself. This story pops out of my head. The fabric spoke to me. Getting that flow requires skill and practice. The engineering skill is about laboring over the details, making sure everything is just so. It is not a job where flow is involved, though you think very creatively. Due diligence is the antithesis to creativity, though it is needed to make sure that creatively works. Where the “creatives” fail in this piece is that lack of laboring over the details. You may be able to create flow in your work, in your social media outreach, but unless you can realistically focus on the details, you will fail. The Fyre festival could have been a success in the hands of less “creative” people who cannot see past the flow of “now.” They ripped people off because they couldn’t face the reality that real-world stuff is hard… You cannot create something big off ideas alone. You’ve got to be able and willing to work it. Due diligence isn’t fun, but it’s the foundation for most success. You can’t build most things by relying on skill alone. Living creatively means being able to live off the proceeds of selling your skill. That is why a creative life can be so precarious.”
I loved the personal interpretations these two commentators shared. They recognized the truth of creative expression—even to the point of execution. Don’t allow the “I’m-not-creative” meme to hold you back. CHOOSE creativity, and find your own path.