If you don’t feel you’re a creative person, you’re not alone. Many adults don’t believe they’re even the slightest bit creative. But just because you haven’t taken an art class or made art for years, it doesn’t mean you haven’t been creative in other ways. Seeing creativity in a black and white definition (i.e. paint on a canvas) limits the potential of what creativity can be. Ken Robinson in Out of Our Minds encourages, “Creativity is not a separate faculty that some people have and others don’t.” Even if you believe you’re not creative, it doesn’t mean it’s true. As Robinson argues, “Everyone has creative capabilities, but they often do not know what they are.”
Creativity can be found in many different areas, from the obvious (within the arts), to the sciences or in our daily lives (i.e. problem solving, organisation, connecting with others, cooking to name a few). With creativity being defined as “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something,” there’s no mention of it being limited to gallery art or being skilful at painting.
While this blog has a focus on making art, you have the capacity to be creative in a wide range of different ways. Whether you use pen and paper or not, dropping the story of not being creative and instead looking for all the ways you are creative may give you a different (and more truthful) perspective.
Are you a creative person? If you instantly reply no, consider questioning the belief you’re not creative. If you define being creative as someone who makes masterpiece art and has built a career out of their work, then no wonder you can’t match up to such a high level of creativity. It doesn’t leave much room for most of us when you set the bar that high. What if being creative meant making something? No details about the quality, quantity, style, look, feel or outward popularity of what was made. You make something and therefore you are creative.
Ken Robinson in Out of Our Minds argues “Being creative involves doing something. It would be odd to describe as creative someone who never did anything. To call somebody creative suggests they are actively producing something in a deliberate way… Creativity involves putting your imagination to work.”
You are automatically creative through the act of making something. Don’t let yourself tell yourself otherwise and go get to work and make a thing today.
Failure. It has multiple definitions but if we take “omission of occurrence,” then a failure is the lack of something happening. For example, you didn’t complete the art you intended. That doesn’t sound serious but we can make failure mean something much more heavy and dangerous – I am a failure. The mind complicate things by making it feel the stakes are higher than they actually are. The mind interprets failure as life-threatening and will try to avoid at all costs, which is why it feels so bad not to reach a goal. It’s trying to protect you from getting ‘hurt’ again. But picking up a pencil to draw is not life-threatening and ‘failing’ at making art is a vital tool in your art-making practice. How else are you going to improve as an artist and learn what you like visually?
Ken Robinson in Out of Our Minds talks about failure: “I asked the renowned chemist, Sir Harry Kroto, how many of his experiments fail. He said about 95 percent of them. Of course failure is not the right word, he said “You’re just finding out what doesn’t work,” Albert Einstein put the point sharply: “Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.” I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever come up with anything original.”
Expect to fail, expect to make mistakes, expect that there is no perfect way to make art and if there was is would be boring and predictable. The joy of making art comes from making messy mistakes, being open to spontaneity and colouring outside of the lines. Safe and perfect sounds far less fun. Robinson encourages us that “A good deal of creative work, especially in the early stages of a project, is about openly playing with ideas, riffing, doodling, improvising and exploring new possibilities.”
Failure is a vital part of creativity and not something we should try to avoid. So when your overdramatic brain whispers “You’re a failure,” know that you’re on the right pathway to letting more creativity into your life. Thank your brain for its concern and then go make more creative mistakes.