Self-Initiated Projects

Create For Creativity

How I lost my creativity. And what I've learned from slowly nurturing it back to health.
Create For Creativity quote Pharrell Williams
Create For Creativity quote Pharrell Williams

Create For Creativity

Creating things can spark creativity. Sometimes making something you didn’t think would work, evolves the idea into something which will work, or it can inspire you in ways you couldn’t initially anticipate. “Create For Creativity” is my mantra to keep making in an attempt to stay creative.

You can see the brain as a whiteboard, with ideas on them, some of them appear bigger than they or, they’re not equally good, and you didn’t have too much control over what appears. Whenever you work on an idea, you get to wipe it off the board, leaving space for new ideas. 

That’s how I’ve come to see creativity in recent years. We all have it, but acting on it can be a hard thing to do. It’s externalizing something very personal. 

We get better at doing things by doing those things. And the more we learn, the more we can create by going on autopilot. Learning to make is a journey by itself, and improvisation the prize at the end.

There’s so much more I’d want to say about creativity, but for now I want to highly recommend a talk by Adam Savage’s talk about building. And a talk by Charles Limb about what happens to our brains when we improvise. Both are fundamental in my thinking about how we experience creativity.

Adam's "Sunday Sermon" from Bay Area Maker Faire - Adam Savage

Adam talks about the outward facing aspects of making, and how creating opportunities for others is an importact facet of of maker culture.

Designed by Humans

Everything in the world was either designed by nature or by humans. We build, make and create, and the internet has made ideas spread quicker. Drastically increasing the speed at which we are building collectively.

Regardless of what you are designing, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it, many angles to consider and problems to solve. We do this in part through the knowledge of experts, experimenting and our experience. These come together to create sometimes wondrous things.

I'm not a creative person

Having moments in which we feel our creativity fails us, can be a common emotion for many of us. But what if those moments start to feel more common than not.

When I was a little girl I didn’t understand it when people said they weren’t creative. It seemed intuitive to me; you think about something, and it gives you ideas. It was probably an advantage that I was doing improvisation classes, but at the time creativity seemed a natural occurrence to me.

This all started to change as I got older. At 19, during a trip in Cologne (Germany) at the start of art school, I lost my sketch book. I had it since I was 16 when I started in a new school, and collected three years of exploring creatively and learning. 

Your Brain on Improv by Charles Limb - Ted Talk

How can the brain generate that much information, that much music, spontaneously?

Making is a vulnerable thing

Making can be such a vulnerable thing, and the closest thing that I can compare this to, was the feeling of hopelessness and disappointed when I found out my parents don’t actually keep all the art you give them.

But nothing could prepare me for how hopeless and desperate I felt when I realized my full body of work from my first year in art school had been destroyed.

One of my classmates saved my portfolio, which I greatly treasure, and I’m forever thankful for. But the sad thing is that even this is incomplete, much of the work still needed to be documented. Sketches, paintings, swatches, a DVD, a collage, so many test materials from the entire year were gone. 

To be fair, this is in part my own fault. For days there had been signs throughout the building warning that the cleanup would happen. I had seen them, and I thought I was prepared.

What I didn’t know was that my own class room was the only that would be cleaned one day earlier. I had spend the last weeks in the printing studio, and wrongly made assumptions. It 100% was in part my fault, but it still hurt.

Creativity is a gift

From then on it became harder and harder to make things, to dare to dream, to envision, because what if I lost it again? I’ve never had my house broken into, but I can imagine it’s a kind of invasion to your person, that can make you uneasy to continue to be in that house. 

As Pharrell Williams said; “Stay loyal to your creativity because it’s a gift.” Creativity is not garanteed, and it was a painful lesson I had to learn.

Create for Recovery

This is when I learned that creativity is more likely something you learn, not something everyone can access by default. It took a long time to feel comfortable to make things again, it felt really uneasy, but in time became easier, and I became more confident.

“Create for Creativity” became my mantra that embodies this. A reminder to myself, that by doing I am nurturing my future creativity. I will have to deal with my work potentially being lost again in the future, but I think I am more resilient now. 

Now when I speak to people who say they are not creative, I have a different understanding. I believe them. But I do make it a poiint, to tell them this story, because I do believe, in our own way, we can nurture creativity by using it as a verb, rather than a noun.