The Art of Creativity

If one more person tells me they’re not creative, I’m going to douse them with my acrylics – the quick drying ones that only come off with scrubbing and a bit of alcohol. 🎨

Everyone is creative in some capacity, whether painting, sculpting, gardening, cooking, singing, rearranging flowers or decorating, but few people see themselves in this way. That’s because the word ‘creativity’ is applied so widely and erratically that it has lost some meaning. It’s a paradoxical term: You may know what you set out to make, but you have no idea how it’s going to turn out. Worse, creativity is considered by many to have an end goal, to produce something of value (to someone, somewhere), not in a monetary sense but in a qualitative one. 

So, what exactly is creativity? Is it an art, a skill, a way of life? 

Creativity has some necessary conditions. It involves something new being produced, in other words, there needs to be an element of novelty and originality. This seems self-evident. If you are making something that already exists, you’re replicating, not creating. Creativity also involves a psychological and emotional component – a releasing of tension, a freedom of expression, a passion, a sharing of feelings. This externalising of the creative’s internal world doesn’t need to be extreme or even accessible (at least in a rational sense) to anyone, including the ‘creator’, but it needs to be felt by someone in some way.

To complicate matters, creativity can be both a process (being creative) and an outcome (a work of art is a creative piece, the result of the creative process). But here’s where it gets tricky. Creativity is also a disposition – at least, I believe it is – meaning the will to make or produce is inherently bound within the meaning of the term. In other words, if I considered myself to be an artist but had no interest in engaging in any creative pursuits, or if I did so without motivation or inspiration, performing technically, mechanically even (think AI), would I be considered creative? Arguably not. There has to be a desire and propensity to create. For many (including me), this can be a compulsion of sorts – an unsettling feeling, like something’s out of kilter and can’t be righted until the brush hits the canvas, the pen the paper, the hand the clay and so forth.

Why all this musing about creativity? I’ve been conceptualising to the point of giving myself a big creative headache in the context of my work in progress, a memoir piece with a creative thread. I’ve been working on it at the KSP Writers’ Centre in Perth, thanks to a writing fellowship. I was here five years ago and am thrilled to again be part of this amazing, supportive community. I’ve also been dabbling in poetry – just for fun, no end game in mind. It catapults me out of stale writing patterns and habits, activating my brain and God knows, that could use a boost these days.

Meanwhile, Fragments, both the web series and the feature-length film, has been touring festivals in Australia and overseas. I’m thrilled that the work has been nominated for Best Feature at the New Renaissance Film Festival in London, and has picked up a Merit Award at the Awareness Festival in LA. It will also be screening at Sydney Web Fest at the end of this month, when I’ll be hitting ‘The Pink Carpet’. Continuing the creative theme, I recently completed my qualification as an Art Therapist. The comprehensive course was a good mix of theoretical exploration and practical work, blending art, philosophy and psychology and yielding some unexpected insights. I don’t plan to work formally in the field, but I didn’t think that I’d write and executive produce an award-winning film/web series, and music video either.

Never say never.