Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” and I must say I feel I had the privilege of being on the highway to creativity since I was a kid, so thanks mom.
I see many authors talking about how our youth is being treated in a disastrous way when referring to cultivating a creative generation. The main problem seems to be that creativity is always put aside in our education system. And this has been the basis of our society since we were six years old. We follow what our teacher tells us from day one and try to be the best at what they teach us. Students are labeled as the most inteligent and with the brightest future if they are great at mathematics, grammar, history… And the classes with creative areas are either optional or very basic. And the great students at this creative areas are labeled as ‘artists’. But this should be an a area of interest for a wider public. Creative intelligence is used today from CEO’s to Scientists and even store managers always looking for more and more ways of creative thinking to solve their demands on a daily basis. It’s wrong to think of pratical or creative people as two different groups. All areas of science , from theory to practice need creativity as a bedrock to success. What I mean is that great scientist or dancers, they share one thing in common, they are highly creative. Both are great at their own areas, and you can’t tell that Einstein was more intelligent than Pina Bauch, because both were brilliant at their own “show” there was only a difference in the type of work that was combined in both cases with great creativity. “Creativity is as important as literacy” (Ken Robinson) and if the educational system doesn’t do anything about this, the ones who escape it are either ‘the lucky ones’ or the ones who owe it to someone in their life that pushed them beyond what was expected of them from society. I had the chance to live under the wing of a wonderful woman that took me to ,what at the time looked like really boring museums in Barcelona, Istanbul, Paris… some stupid dance classes, embarrassing puppetry workshops, playing with clay (instead of computers) and congratulate me even if the final result wasn’t the one everyone expected… Because what this was really all about was to get me to learn to do something without fear, and that is actually the first step in being creative… to do something, even if I didn’t understand it at the time. It’s never too late for that , don’t try to teach creativity to yourself, try only to rediscover it.
“It is very important to embrace failure and to do a lot of stuff — as much stuff as possible — with as little fear as possible. It’s much, much better to wind up with a lot of crap having tried it than to overthink in the beginning and not do it.” (Stefan Sagmeister)
So why do we still hear so much of “I can’t deal with that I’m not the creative type”? Probably because somewhere along the way someone mocked some work, and criticized it in a non constructive way, making a creative child turn into a fearful adult. I recently read a story of a “little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was 6 at the time, and the teacher said this little girl hardly paid any attention in any class, but that in this drawing lesson she did. The teacher was fascinated and he went over to her and asked: “What are you drawing?” and the girl replied: “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Then the teacher replied “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And then the girl said “They will in a minute.”” (from “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”)
The big diference here is that a child doesn’t have shame of the ridicule, or of being wrong. Did you ever cry in front of an whole bunch of people in a mall because you wanted that new toy? But when was the last time you did something as scandalous for something that you really wanted? It’s that lack of confidence and commitment that makes people less creative than they were in their childhood.
So whatever your area of expertise is, try something different for a change, try to be creative on your own zone, hear David Kelley as he says “Failure sucks, but instructs.” don’t be afraid of being the first one, because if you succeed then you will be the one that others look at as a reference. It won’t happen from day to night but try it step by step, because creativity and confidence will make a huge impact in your personal and professional life. Remember that it’s something you practice instead of some gift you are born with. It’s not a talent but a skill, and as any skill some persons might be better at it than others but it doesn’t make it an exclusivity for them.
“Creativity is based on thinking unconventionally, having time to daydream or simply reflect, understanding that there is no single right answer, and appreciating and valuing failure. All of these experiences run counter to what’s measured, and thus valued, in the public school system.” (Cevin Soling)
If you didn’t have someone in your life that helped you preserve your creative inner child, don’t panic there is always time. Exercises that will help you rediscover it by building confidence, promoting curiosity and exploration and forcing you to be resourceful, are worthwhile endeavors that build up your creativity. And how will you know if you are being creative enough? You just don’t! Try to remember the story about the little boy that tried to make dinosaurs with clay and even when they looked like rocks he heard “Wow! That looks amazing, congratulations!”
“Striving for perfection can get in the way during the early stages of the creative process.” (David Kelley)
So please, be like my mother and inspire creativity in others.
ROBINSON, Ken. 2009. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Portuguese Edition). Porto Editora. Porto.
KELLEY, David & Tom. 2013. Creative Confidence. Crown Business. New York.
BROWN, Tim. 2009. Design Thinking. Harper Collins. New York.