You know how sometimes things form patterns? Like, when you hear a new word for the first time, find out what it means, and that week you hear people use it several more times, as if there's some Grand Plan to reinforce your learning?
Yesterday afternoon, one of my friends made a post about the creative process, and how differences in people's creative processes can make it harder for them to relate to each other. The general drift (correct me if I'm wrong) was that while one person's creative process might involve taking a piece of used chewing gum, a stick and a box of matches, and creating a wondrous twirly disco light from them, another's creative process might involve finding a really cool toy on the internet and buying it. And how both are valid, just very different and one person may not see the other's process as creative at all, except by some mental gymnastics. It got me thinking about the people I know and their various forms of creativity.
About 2 hours later I was reading the Burning Man livejournal community, and someone in there had posted about where one could get pendants mass produced. There were a bunch of replies from people going "Make your own, hand made is better!" "I treasure the things that people have put effort into!" and the like. The general consensus seemed to be that a gift of a pendant is only valid if you spend hours making it from scratch.
Then mediavictim posted this comment. And I agree with him. The bit that made me laugh the most:
"So I think that whatever you give out should mean something or be a reflection of you. If you have theme camp based on the artisitc kitch of cheap shody merchanise from Asia - then give that out without guilt. If you want to spend the next year hand knitting sweaters from your own belly button lint - then thats cool too."
And you know, I can't think of a single person I know that doesn't have some form of creativity. You have people who claim not to be creative, who write wonderfully eloquent blog posts about the fluff behind their couch. You have people who, while pedantic and 'boring' in their work lives, perform in Gilbert and Sullivan musicals on the weekend. And my colleague, who's anally retentive in the extreme (more than me) makes bead necklaces and copper-bound 'wands' and other medieval stuff for her friends.
I get called creative sometimes because of my drawing. Thing is, I don't consider the drawing to be a particularly creative process. I can take a dog, or a person, or a horse or whatever, and make a minutely detailed, photorealist portrait of it, to the point where people go "Wow, it looks like it's alive!" But to me, the dog/horse whatever already exists. I am making a two dimensional copy of it on paper. I'm very very good at it (I should be, I've been practicing for 32 years), but to me it's not creative to make an accurate representation of something that already exists. It's skilled. But I'm making nothing new.
I consider myself to be creative in other ways. And here's where the grey area is HUGE in between the poles of 'fully creative' or 'not creative at all.' For example, last year pombagira and I were asked to design and build a large scale art project. We were given no brief except that it was to be a non-denominational temple-type structure. We didn't even have a budget. So, we sat down and scribbled on bits of paper, and *fanfare* we both came up with more or less the same design. Then we took our rough drawing and used it to make a scale model out of chopsticks, detailed it, ordered materials and, eventually, with a lot of help, built it. It was pretty rough and ready compared to my photorealist portraits, it lacked finesse and wasn't pretty. But it was a process of creating a thing from an idea.
And that's what I think creativity is. Making a thing (whatever that thing may be) come into being from an idea.
And taking that thought and applying it, I can think of people who:
- Take music tracks created by other people, and string them together in a unique way, to make something that's better, and affects people in making them want to dance.
Buy clothes from shops, designed and created by other people, but put them together and accessorise them to make an ensemble that makes people go "Wow, awesome!"
Have a vision of an evening's entertainment, and spend weeks organising, making phone calls and marketing, gathering together a lot of people/stuff/places to make that evening special for a bunch of people.
Build websites that not only look pretty and contain information created by other people, but work properly and reliably.
I consider all of these to be creative. I have a jersey. It's awesome. It's cable knitted, by my Mum, from wool spun by my Mum, from one of her sheep, that I lambed, raised and shore. But hang on! She used a pattern to knit the jersey! Does this mean this jersey isn't a product of creativity? Who gets to claim the creativity for my jersey?
I have an LED hoop. I bought it off the internet. It makes pretty patterns in the air when I twirl it around. The guy who made it, invented it himself, bought the LEDs (rather than building them), thought up a way of making it work, and sold it to me. But it isn't till I (or someone else) picks it up and starts dancing with it, that it really becomes the Thing that springs from the Idea/Vision of the guy that made it. So who's being creative in that? Him? Me? Or is it a team effort?
And I know that in my work, I've had to use some pretty creative justifications for some of the wording in documentation I've had to write. "Size, spacing and erection of all members is in accordance with regulations", anyone?
I guess the point I'm trying to make is the same one that my friend and mediavictim both made far more succinctly than me - that while the creative process may take many forms, be it making costumes from fabric that you wove yourself from cotton that you grew yourself, on a loom that you built yourself from trees that you grew yourself, or buying loads of stuff in a consumerist manner and putting it together in your own unique way - the end result is the same. Something has been created from an idea.
And everyone, no matter what they're doing, is being creative in some way. Somewhere along the line in this process, there was more than one person involved in the creation of things from ideas. So if that's the case, then we really are all creative people, whether we think so or not.
Now lets all hold hands and sing Kumbayah (which, no doubt, was created by someone back in the day for the purpose of getting people to group hug more often).
This post brought to you by thinking too much. And possibly too much coffee.