Sir Ken Robinson gives his take on creativity:
‘It’s sometimes said that creativity cannot be defined: Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.
There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative, another is that creativity is only about the arts, a third is the creativity cannot be taught and a fourth is that it’s all to do with uninhibited “self-expression.” None of these is true. Creativity draws from many powers that we all have by virtue of being human. Creativity is possible in all areas of human life, in science, the arts, mathematics, technology, cuisine, teaching, politics, business, you name it. And like many human capacities, our creative powers can be cultivated and refined. Doing that involves an increasing mastery of skills, knowledge and ideas.
Creativity is about fresh thinking. It doesn’t have to be new to the whole of humanity – though that’s always a bonus – but certainly to the person whose work it is. Creativity also involves making critical judgements about whether what you’re working on is any good, be it a theorem, a design, or a poem. Creative work often passes through typical phases. Sometimes what you end up with is not what you had in mind when you started. It’s a dynamic process that often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies.
Being creative is not just about having off-the-wall ideas and letting your imagination run free. It may involve all of that, but it also involves refining, testing, and focusing what you’re doing. It’s about original thinking on the part of the individual, and it’s also about judging critically whether the work in process is taking the right shape and is worthwhile, at least for the person producing it.
Creativity is not the opposite of discipline and control. On the contrary, creativity in any field may involve deep factual knowledge and high levels of practical skill. Cultivating creativity in one of the most interesting challenges for any teacher. It involves understanding the real dynamics of creative work.
Creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. Focusing on skills in isolation can kill interest in any discipline. Many people have been put off mathematics for life by endless rote tasks that did nothing to inspire them with the beauty of numbers. Many spent years grudgingly practicing scales for music examinations only to abandon the instrument once they’ve made the grade.
The real drive of creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done. Their mastery of them grows as their creative ambitions expand. You’ll find evidence of this process in great teaching in every discipline from football to chemistry.’
(Excerpt taken from Sir Ken Robinson’s book Creative Schools; pages 118-120)
Inspiring Creativity is a short film (11 mins) created by Liberatum, directed by Pablo Ganguli and Tomas Auksas, and presented by illy, featuring 21 artists and cultural figures from art, fashion, film, design, technology and music. The film is an insider’s perspective on inspiration from the minds of leading creative personalities including:
Diana Picasso, Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, Academy Award nominee James Franco, Joan Smalls, Johan Lindeberg, Jonas Mekas, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nico Muhly, Karen Elson, Karim Rashid, Klaus Biesenbach, Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, Lola Montes Schnabel, Marilyn Minter, Mark Romanek, Tracey Emin, Moby, Paul Schrader, and TED founder Richard Saul Wurman.
Through the authentic interpretation and responses from these individuals, the overall project communicates what inspires creative thinking and behaviors for nurturing inspiration, while provoking thoughts on how culture, society, and technology continue to affect creativity.
You need to be determined to maintain your own views, your own tastes and be your own you.
As a father, I may not want to have stubborn children (they must get it from their mother!) but if it means that they keep on creating, I will be happy!
Cleese said that his teachers did not recognise the creativity that was within him. “People who don’t have it can’t recognise it,” he said, “Creativity doesn’t have to be taught; it has to be liberated.”
However, the process of being creative is a complicated process. According to Cleese, creating and improving ideas is a three-step cycle that pairs the brain’s slow-moving unconscious with the fast-moving logical side.
Step 1 – Preparation
“You’ve been preparing all your life,” Cleese says, by living and studying and working and thinking, but the task at hand may require asking specific questions of specific people or carrying out other research.
Step 2 – Incubation
Ever notice how the solution to a problem strikes you when you wake up? Give your unconscious a chance to think, starting with a quiet space you can let your mind slowly wander. “Incubation is not about wracking your brain. The enemy of incubation is interruption.”
Step 3 – Inspiration
“That’s the ‘aha’ moment. Hints from the unconscious [need] to be interpreted, and it may take some time.”
This process would explain why an idea seems to come all of a sudden, but in reality, it is a result of long period of observation, fermentation and a rapid coming together perfect moment that leads to a creative explosion!
NB: Parts of this article was originally written and published by the Upstart Business Journal.
Today I experienced my first “living room gig” with Tullalah Rendell! Fantastically inspiring and creative!
When’s the next gig?
Being creative will often mean going against accepted thinking or behaviour. Here’s Welby Ings giving a really insightful TEDx talk at Auckland on his experiences on working with creative people.
It’s called Disobedient Thinking and I highly recommend you watch it!
Being creative means trying new things and taking risks. To be creative and successful, you need to persevere to be successful.
To see this in action, take a look at the highest ever slackline walk. It’s just under 2 minutes long. Enjoy if you can watch it!
Creativity takes many forms. Rather than thinking of the output, I believe creativity is a state of mind, a conscious desire to be different, unique and original. You want to be known for what you create, not for what you can reproduce.
When I attempt to draw, others can tell the age when I stopped drawing regularly (it was about 10). Your ability to draw reflects the age you stopped drawing, or more correctly, when you stopped practising. It is only through regular application that you understand the artistic skills that you have, how to improve them and work to improve them.
Creativity is a muscle. Physical muscles need to be regularly used otherwise they weaken; it can be very painful to reawaken and strengthen a weak muscle. The only way to develop a muscle and make it strong is to exercise it.
To be creative takes effort and practice, lots of practice. Everyone can be creative, it comes down to desire and will. Maya Angelou, the American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer, says it best:
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Do you need any more reasons to be creative?