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ddykstal
ddykstal

I’m thinking a bit about what creativity means. Who is a creative person you admire? Can you explain why you feel they are creative?

ChrisJWilson
ChrisJWilson

@ddykstal Really interesting question and I hope to see some other interesting answers. I'd like to suggest - Austin Kleon - I love how he collects ideas and other people's art and then turns them into new things - Matt Stuart - He notices patterns many people miss. - Radiohead - They could have stuck to a certain style but kept experimenting.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@ChrisJWilson Interesting reply. I'm trying to see if there is a pattern in developing creativity. Is it innate or is it nurtured? In each of these cases we seem to have someone who has found a niche somewhat off the track. Why is that? Can one be creative without being divergent?

BTW. I've heard of Radiohead but did not hear Radiohead, being a generation older. I'll have to sample. Suggestions?

ChrisJWilson
ChrisJWilson

@ddykstal I don’t think you can be creative and be “normal”, I think you can exercise creativity in being normal (an example might be creatively coming up with a bland brand name for a brand that wants to be seen as dependable. That brand won’t be seen as being creative but the process in getting the name might be). I may well be wrong there but that’s my gut reaction. As for Radiohead, I think it’s worth listening to something like Creep then comparing it to Pyramid song to see how they changed. But for a recommendation of good music, listen to The Bends.

aled
aled

@ddykstal I've come to think of creativity as the skill of silencing the voices that say 'this isn't good enough' or 'this needs to be perfect’. Everyone can create, but not everyone has the confidence to put stuff out into the world. I admire those who do.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@aled Now that's interesting. Surely creativity requires some level of skill and the ability to set a relatively high bar? IMO, one cannot just produce random trash and call it creative. One could be naïve or self-taught and create, which is different. I think folk art falls in that category.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@aled But you are leading me to think. Children are amazingly creative, but necessarily unskilled. Hmm.

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@ddykstal talking of trash ... ‘found art’ is a branch of creativity ... you ask an interesting question and did some poking around and found these .. not read them all .. but some look intersting.

Sorry for the ramble below ....

To me everybody can be creative ... but everybody generally isn’t. The ‘all children are creative ... when do we lose it’ question is answered by our education process where we teach how to conform, fit in, follow rules ... and those that try to break away from that pack are ostricised, shamed, stamped on ....

I am reminded of a Jonny Ives quote re design ... I paraphrase ... everything is designed ... even that bad toothbrush, or chair ... somebody sat down and thought about how that thing should work ... for better or worse.

I wonder if creativity relates. Everybody creates ... all the time ... but some not as well as others ... this very reply is an act of creativity, translating my thoughts into words that get tapped into a piece of glass that anyone can read .... few will though .. but are they any less or more creative than Stephen King writing these same words in one of his novels that will be read by milllions?

Why is Jackson Pollock throwing paint at a canvas on the floor creative? I did that when I was a kid, and told to clean up my mess.

BTW ... you should take a listen to Radiohead ... they have been putting recordings into the market place for nearly 30 years ... nobody is ‘too old’ for Radiohead 😀 and whilst on music aren’t there two categories ... the formulaic .. this worked last time ... let’s do it again ... and then the others that write with passion, for themselves, regardless of what the fan base thinks ... those are the ‘real’ creatives IMHO ... as in who people consider to. E creative ... massive reinvention over and over again ... think Bowie for example.

Moby did a recent interview about why his music failed after his massive success .. and it took him years to realize that subsequent albums were about him trying to repeat the formula of success from that one album ... once he stopped that, it all flowed again.

ChrisJWilson
ChrisJWilson

@aled I like this opinion. I came across something last week (can’t remember who) which said something similar. That being creative is vulnerable and you’ve got to have guts to make that different decision and then share it.

rnv
rnv

@ChrisJWilson @ddykstal A lot of this hinges on what we mean by “normality” and “creativity” — both these terms are defined within the context of one’s culture.

“Normal” simply means what is common, against which we measure anything unusual or rare. And when we use the term “creativity” in our current society, most of the time we’re really talking about an unusual method or approach to solving a problem or accomplishing a task, rather than the act of actually creating or making something. That is, although people make things all the time — sandwiches, babies, to-do lists — it’s only when one’s approach or method is unusual, bold, surprising, or eccentric that we say that person is “creative.” (This is why calling something “formulaic” is usually an insult: it implies that it was dull, boring, uninspired, that there was nothing startling or unusual about it.) And so we have therefore come to think of “normal” and “creative” as opposites.

But this is polarity is not the case everywhere, or at every time. In T’ang Dynasty China, for example, composing poems was considered a core requirement for absolutely every educated person. It was utterly common, and therefore completely normal. Was poetry-composition therefore not creative simply by virtue of its ubiquity? If anything, poems would have lacked creativity to the extent that they were formulaic. (And there were indeed tons of such poems…) But I mention this to demonstrate that someone could be “creative” while doing a completely “normal” thing.

So, because our society’s definition of “creative” mostly refers to method, I firmly believe it can be taught, although some people will obviously show greater aptitude than others.

And let me be clear — all of this is different from being bold or confident enough to put something out into the world that you made. Someone can be intensely and wildly creative and yet never show anything to absolutely anyone. And becoming bolder and more confident can also be taught.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal the ability to think creativly and express that through various means is vital to humankind. Unfortunately most schooling drills this ability of this out of the vast majority of individuals. So we often see creativity expressed more often through outputs revolving around art, design and humanities however creativity is crucial to all aspects of living on a planet with diverse species and ecosystems. More critically at this time Creative thinking is the only way humans will be able to advance in harmony with ourselves and our environment. That’s how I think about it. 🤔

adamprocter
adamprocter

@JohnPhilpin nice!

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal The Bends is immediately accessible I would say however OK Computer is an amazing piece of work. In Rainbows and A moon Shaped Pool also stunning. To be fair you can’t go wrong

rnv
rnv

@adamprocter Yes. This sounds like what @JohnPhilpin is talking about when he makes the distinction between education and training.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@rnv indeed, I tend to agree with @johnphilpin on a number of things 👍 ( I do however wish @manton would let me fix reply typos / grammer issues!)

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal also reminded me of Gnarls Barkleys cover of Reckoner in case Radiohead fans had not come across it. You may enjoy as well. YouTube

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal there are certainly approaches to thinking creatively which will develop creativity. UK Art School education would be top of my list for embedding this type of activity. Get it quick before anyone acts on the Augar report

Art School Smart School - BBC Radio 4

ddykstal
ddykstal

@JohnPhilpin I'm not sure the education process is to blame for always snuffing out children's creativity. Their creativity is of a different sort -- exploratory and playful -- one might even say immature. Schools can encourage or discourage that.

I'm thinking of creativity in adults. Yes, I suppose everyone is creative to some extent. Is it possible to pin down some process or attribute of those who are "most creative". Would it be possible to learn to be creative? Are there steps one could take to nurture their own creativity in a particular area?

ddykstal
ddykstal

@JohnPhilpin I have friends who do art with found objects. It is not trash. It is art using trash. :)

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal @JohnPhilpin I hope I have pointed to Art School being able to develop creativity in young adults (see other replies) I have to however link to Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk at this point Do schools kill creativity?

ddykstal
ddykstal

@rnv I like this. One can be creative within the confines of a form. Every sonnet is a work of creation. Of course, one could always write bad sonnets. I attempt to write haiku occasionally. It is creative, but I doubt they would be recognized as anything other than the work of an amateur.

I think those we consider creative are somehow either diverging from or extending the current art of their area of skill -- be it music, painting, code, housebuilding, physics, or medicine.

ronguest
ronguest

@ddykstal This is an interesting thread. It seems most people (?) limited creativity to the arts?

I was going to say I often feel I think the people are creative who can do what I can’t do. In my case arts such as drawing, painting or playing musical instruments particularly well. Yet I do think of myself as creative in other realms such as crafting new business and in computer science. The ability to be creative, think out of the box or etc is a key differentiator to higher levels of success in those domains. Much more so than schooling.

As far as the schooling of our 10 and 15 year old children I can’t see it has snuffed out their creativity. In fact it has exposed them to a lot of opportunities to express themselves (most of which they decided weren’t for them). What I can say is that some teachers are good at taking the ‘fun’ out of learning.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal @JohnPhilpin and a whiteboard RSA animation I like www.youtube.com/watch

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@adamprocter if betsy devos did .0001% of what Ken Robinson talks about - good reminder thankyou ... he even defines creativity on the way through!

side note - i also like RSA Animations - but on this one have always found the animation distracting - i just listen.

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@ddykstal i know - right?

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@ddykstalwhen I am asked if i am a musician of any kind - I reply no - I can play the guitar but I am not a guitarist.

my point is that anybody can learn to play the guitar - but few have the passion and dedication to become a guitarist - and so few of them are really ‘the best’ - whatever that means ... which I believe comes from 'something you are born with’ - and cannot be learned or taught …

replace guitar with …..piano, writing, painting ... creativity ... and i think the same thing applies

vega
vega

@ddykstal To me a creative person is someone who sees the world in a singular, unique way, AND has the ability to express and transmit their vision in a way that connects with others. Every person has a unique vision of the world, but not everyone has the ability or inclination to transmit that vision. I don't think any person innately "knows" how to communicate with the other, so that's where the hard work of practice, trialling, and "publishing/broadcasting" (ie. putting your work out there) comes in. So it's a mixture of both nature and nurture.

vega
vega

@ddykstal To add to my previous post... "not everyone has the ability or inclination to transmit that vision so that the viewer/recipient can access and identify with it, and also receive the uniqueness of that vision."

Different people have different methods of transmission which connect with different kinds of recipients. Which is why creativity comes in so many forms, and also why some of them fall flat with you.

Additionally, I may take it one step further and say that creativity isn't just having a unique vision of the world, and being able to transmit it, but in transmitting it, produce something new and emergent that itself gives rise to fresh ideas.

A couple of creative persons I admire. Gene Wolfe, a SF/fantasy author who writes "literary speculative fiction", emphasis on literary. Terrence Malick - layers upon layers of visual symbolism in his movies, plus they move me viscerally. Vangelis, who's composed some amazing albums (some of which are better than his movie soundtracks), there's something about his music that is unique and I've never been able to find the same "sound" elsewhere.

manton
manton

@adamprocter @rnv Editing replies is still planned. Probably similar to posts where there’s a time window for edits to show up in the timeline.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@ddykstal Replying to myself to keep it in the thread.

So I'm getting the impression from folks that creativity involves skill (could be self-taught) and passion. What else? What other attributes should one possess?

Ron
Ron

@ddykstal The ability to steal and remix the works of other creators.

smokey
smokey

@ronguest Speaking of creativity in computer science, or at least software development, long ago my fellow Camino developer Peter Jaros came up with a creative solution to a thorny AppleScript-related problem we were facing. (I suppose other developers I worked with also came up with creative solutions to problems—I worked with smfr, mento, and @Wevah in that time, for goodness sake—but since I wasn’t familiar with Obj-C/Cocoa most of that time, I wasn’t able to tell; AppleScript, on the other hand, I knew well enough.) Some outside-of-the-box, unexpected thinking saved that feature.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@Ron Is that too narrow? Perhaps something like "understanding and exploiting the prior art" would be more general?

ddykstal
ddykstal

@vega Is "publishing" necessary to be creative? Emily Dickinson rarely published.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@smokey Reminds me of the time I used COBOL (yes, really!) to solve a string manipulation problem easier than I could do it in C. Good times!

ddykstal
ddykstal

@vega I've put these folks on my list. Vangelis I know from his scores, but I'll have to check out his other work. Thanks!

I'd gotten out of speculative fiction genre for some time until I picked up N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series. It's one of those I have to read sporadically because there is no telling what is on the next page.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@ddykstal Motion: Genius is the epitome of Creativity.

I feel like this is a basis for an Intelligence Squared debate. 😎

vega
vega

@ddykstal Good point; I was reflecting on my earlier post, and realized that publishing (ie. scope, external recognition/validation) is somewhat adjacent to creativity but not inherent to it. But flip your question around: Is creativity possible in a vacuum?

I don't think you need to publish to be inherently creative, but just as input from the world breeds fresh ideas in you, outputting back into the world, and allowing others to engage with your output, also breeds more creativity in yourself and others. Without input/output, I think we all reach innate limits where we become less able to say new things (to ourselves, let alone to others).

What other attributes to possess -- perhaps the ability to synthesize ideas from disparate disciplines to produce a new space. The more removed the disciplines, the more original/creative that idea could be. I think this is the "invention" part of creativity.

Indeed, Jemisin's work is constantly surprising -- I read her Inheritance trilogy a few months ago and it was a kicker!

ddykstal
ddykstal

@vega Synthesis -- excellent point!

I'm reminded of a description of Jane Marple from "Nemisis" that went something like "Her powers of synthesis are formidable."

I'm also reminded of the Manny character from "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" who refers to himself as a JOAT (Jack of All Trades).

ddykstal
ddykstal

@vega And now I see that you refer to yourself as a JOAT. Nice!

aled
aled

@ddykstal It's a great question that's making me think pretty hard. Here's where I'm at: creativity is an energy, art is one example of an output of that energy, skill is a modulating factor affecting the likelihood of the output being widely regarded as 'good'.

aled
aled

@ChrisJWilson Fully agree with that. I looked for some quotes about creativity and came across this by Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt” which is a similar sentiment. Maybe that vulnerability is partly because creativity needs imagination, which is deeply unique and personal.

Ron
Ron

@ddykstal I don't like the verb exploiting. That sounds like marketing, whereas remix has been thoroughly delineated and includes creating something new, though sourced from the past.

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@ddykstal if publishing was necessary to be seen as creative ... publishing would be ‘the oldest profession’. Even with ‘self publishing’ ... it as an extra gate that has to be gone through ... and has nothing to do with whether you are creative or not.

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@Ron @ddykstal yes ... but ‘steal’ is a pretty emotive word aswell .. the remix culture takes, borrows, adds, mixes and has been done for a long (relatively) time ... when It started to make real money ... the publishing industry stepped in and said ... oh no ... you are stealing ... here’s the contract that says we own that ...

ddykstal
ddykstal

@JohnPhilpin @Ron Hmm. Lots of words for basing one's work on others. I didn't see "exploit" as perjorative when I wrote it. I guess one could say "adapt" or "adopt".

Composers have always stolen themes from others and freely admit to it. In many cases it is considered an homage.

Every creative work is not entirely new.

JohnPhilpin
JohnPhilpin

@ddykstal as George said .. and I paraphrase ... “when you’ve only got 8 notes to play with it’s hard.”

And agreed - doesn’t stop the legal cases though!

gebloom
gebloom

@ddykstal And schools are designed to leave them skilled and uncreative, which is often successful at only the second. I’d conjecture that creativity and skill are codependent.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@gebloom I would agree that creativity requires skill. I disagree that schools are designed to drive out creativity. I would expect that there are schools that do, but I will not make such a generalization. I know too many people who've been inspired by their teachers to be creative. Nor do I agree that schools fail in teaching skill.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal Having worked in education for 20+ years and connected to a lot of people at school, FE anf HE it is unfortunate but for sure in the UK at least that most schools (pre 18) are failing in regards to creative education and to be blunt most types of educating, beyong exam and hoop jumping by a long shot - learning-reimagined.com/keri-face... - there are many of us trying to transform this mind

ddykstal
ddykstal

@adamprocter I am sorry to hear that. There is an overemphasis on exams here in the US as well, but there are efforts in various states to reduce that. Some more than others. My children had both good and bad teacher and good and bad (especially math) curricula. Both came through it with their curiousity intact. The quality of schools and their improvement is probably another branch off this topic. I'm trying to understand if folks think creativity itself is a skill that can be taught and learned. I think it might be.

gebloom
gebloom

@ddykstal You’d have to define creativity. I would argue that children are naturally curious, which leads to creativity. And that creativity doesn’t need to be taught, but it can be stifled.

adamprocter
adamprocter

@ddykstal creativity I think that it can be taught and learnt for sure.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@adamprocter 👍

ddykstal
ddykstal

@gebloom When I asked the questions I was interested in what you might call "adult" creatitivity in a particular field. I agree totally with your statement about children's curiosity and creativity. I think it is of a different sort though. I think I called it immature in a previous remark. "immature" as in having lots of room to grow.

nickkearney
nickkearney

@ddykstal I think there is an aspect of creativity, that is often played down, because the notion of inspiration is given such emphasis, there is always an intentionality. This may be initial, the novelist that sits before a blank page, or post-inspiration, the artist that sees a pattern in a pile of trash and then works intntionally to bring that out. Jackson Pollock set out to do what he did, wherever his original vision may have come from. So there are skills (teachable) and vision (which can be developed). What is miussing form the equation is attitude. The creative, artist, engineer or administrator is fundamentally non-conformist, seeks to improve the "rules", adjust them, or discard them. The child is creative because she is not fully aware of the rules, the adult is creative against a background of imperfect rules (one of which may be, but rarely is, the very notion of "rules") We are social beings, and we are creative within, and despite, a social framework.

ddykstal
ddykstal

@nickkearney I think you've hit on the thing that differentiates what I've been calling immature and mature creativity. Intention requires a level of expertise, a grounding in the fundamentals from which one can branch.