Do you have a secret Michelangelo or Caravaggio hiding deep inside you, aching to surface, but when asked about your creative capabilities, you clam-up or change the subject?
A lot of people claim they are not creative, but when pushed, eventually admit they haven’t actually given it a proper chance. My challenge to you is…relax, let your mind go, remove expectations and simply see what you come up with.
We all know that creativity comes in many varieties and is more than artistic creativity. You may be a visionary, mechanical engineer, architect, pianist, entrepreneur, barkeep or barista — all known problem solvers, but they still may not practice the relationship between creativity and problem solving.
This is where I think we could all do with a generous helping of creativity every day! If you are concerned about your artistic abilities; don’t be.
Artistic ability is just one kind of creativity. Because I’m a designer, let’s concentrate on the artistic kind of creativity. Since some of the others creativities happen as a result of tiers of processes, artistic creativity is something we can easily see.
So how do you know if you have artistic creativity? Typically, you understand relationships and comparisons and then define the discovered relationship in an artisitic way.
Before taking my college illustration classes, I eagerly planted myself among the illustration wallflowers. It was never an issue (despite being a graphic designer and art director) because I knew I could always hire the experts when I needed a custom illustration done properly.
However, I quickly learned that despite being able to sketch and convey ideas while storyboarding or simply describing a layout, knowing how to create simple illustrations would just make me a better designer.
So today, if I choose to create an illustration myself I revert to one guideline that has stuck with me and proven to be a lifesaver over the years. This is quite literally a quick drawing tip if you want to utilize artistic creativity:
The difficulty most people have when attempting to draw is that we perceive our world quite differently than it is in reality and the more familiar the item we try to draw, the bigger the challenge; because even though we are overly familiar with it, we are actually only familiar with our perception of it rathecr than its reality in time/space and perspective. So here’s the trick my amazing art teacher shared with our classroom that made a world of difference to all of us: she instructed us to “…separate your mind from the object.” (Yes — what followed was an audible, collective, “huh?” from every participating student!)
It turns out, the easiest way to separate your mind from the object you are drawing is to literally turn the object upside down or on its side. This break the predisposed image your mind is used to seeing and instead, it allows you to draw what is really before you. This way, you will learn to draw a large oval with an opening on one side and a swirl on the other…or in other words, you will learn to draw a pitcher. Same idea with any still-life: instead of drawing an apple, you learn to draw the heart-shaped, red, shaded object before you.
So the next time you’re asked about your own creative abilities, give it a try, you might surprise yourself! I belong to the “everyone can do anything they want to do, once they make the decision to” — school of thought. That, and a lot of practicing is the answer for me.
But let’s get back to those of us who may hold a pencil like a chopstick and honestly have no ambition nor interest to learn drawing or painting or any of the obvious ways to artistic problem solving…you still have options! Consider this Toronto-based nurse who made a masterpiece out of ephemeral little plastic caps and pieces that are typically thrown away and unused when she prepares an I.V. or any number of other daily responsibilities for her patients.
She still managed to problem-solve and did it extremely creatively. We can all learn from her ingenuity!
So again, keep your mind limber and practice problem-solving everyday…in one way or another, your creativity won’t have any other option than to blossom with each and every problem you solve!