Monday, 16 September 2013

How to be creative

This piece was inspired by a profoundly uninspired photograph I saw at Banbury Station, of a boat on a pebbly beach (not the one shown - I wanted to somewhat protect the original photographer).  It was, like so many pretensions, in black & white, and the tone was moody, and very darkly processed even though it was a daylight shot.  Probably some attempt to suggest layer of meaning not actually present in the picture.  But I had seen this all before,  many many times.  It was a technically perfect image, but not at all creative. And yet it was on the wall. Photography is an art form split in a similar way to film making and I explain how it works in a previous rant here.

So - how do you become creative?

Well - in my experience, there are three types of creative person.

1.         The real deal.
This person is going to do it whether you pay her or not.  The only pain greater than her having to make art is the pain of NOT making art. And by art I mean anything from pottery to marketing. You should seek these people out. They will expand your mind and make you better.

2.         The Faker
This guy THINKS he is a creative. He consumes the media and art he thinks creative people consume (he's basically a cover band) and almost never takes risks, though he'd fight this point to the death. They are the dad dancers at the school disco of life.

3.         The Realist
This is a person who has a degree of self awareness and is pretty sure theres no creativity in them. They are wary of creatives although they know they will need to trust one at some point in their lives.  Problem is they are unable to tell the difference between 1 & 2.

I can help 1 & 3.  If a no.2 asks me for help - they just became a 1 or a 3. So there.

How can they become creative? Another list of three things. We love threes...

1.         Know thyself. Developing self awareness helps you understand what moves you, and will broaden your outlook. The ability to step back deeply enhances your experiences with art, and encourages lateral thought over literal thought ("Why are we here?" vs "Why are there no bagels left?").

2.         Know the other stuff. Other than you. Your life. Your level. Your world. At least once a month do something that "isn't really you".  I was recently on a con call with some people, one of whom admitted to being "not really into comedy". I pressed asking - you don't like to laugh?  She said she did of course, at which I suggested a diverse list of OTHER comedians she might like. It made me sad that she had bailed at the first live gig she'd ever been to.

3.         Ask why.  By asking why (about the good and the bad stuff), we develop our critical thinking faculties. These teach us to appreciate the art much more, which is important if we  are trying to buy creative services (, for hat matter).  My basic understanding of music means I can really appreciate a really wide canon of musical genres, and also chuck out the crap more quickly to make way for the good stuff.

4.         Remember you're a Womble. I know - there were supposed to be only three things. See what I did there?  I thought of something else AND I BROKE THE RULE previously self imposed. Someone once said: "Rules are for the protection of the stupid,  and the guidance of wise". Or it might have been me, just now.  The Womble thing? Wombles are scavengers - they gather ideas and stuff from everywhere,and they recycle (Yes - it's OK. Just don't claim credit).

Do we really need another "Boat on a Pebbly Beach" Picture?

There's so much new stuff out there, why would you want to go with the same old safe stuff?  Stop buying your art from IKEA. White rice goes with everything, but who wants to live on that?  You have a duty as a communicator to connect with whatever it is your audience is doing and seeing, but not be constrained by it. They will love you for the passion and intimacy that a great idea engenders. And once you've done it a few times, you'll be hooked, and it gets a lot less scary.

For practical way this can solve your problems at work, email me here.  

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