How ever perfect your workspace
However beautifully equipped you are
You are on your own when it comes to creativity
You can’t buy it
You can’t learn it
Its the Elephant in your workroom
Do Craftspeople need to be creative?
Nope, you don’t. Lots aren’t
Enjoyment in making things does not make you creative. Many craftspeople are attracted to repetition and want nothing more than to run quietly along in their groove. Their skills increase over time and they can have a good business producing well crafted objects “The public wants it, I make it” They may introduce variations in terms of new colour-ways or sizes but they see no reason to reinvent the wheel.
However there is a different sort of crafts person, the artist-craftsman, who is driven by the desire to make something more and more exceptional. These run on creative energy, they are volatile and vulnerable to its whims. Their heart is always in the next piece. This article is for you guys
Accept that creativity is destructive and wasteful
Creativity wastes huge amounts of time. You just have to accept that most good ideas turnout to be bad ones. But you have to try them out to find out if they are any good.
Be careful not to dismiss try outs too quickly.
You are trying to reproduce something in your head. There will be a disappointing gap between the imagined and the real, but the result could be truly worthwhile even though it is not what you meant
Many creatives run on a depressive cycle, the low tending to herald a creative surge.
You need to accept that and block any negative actions at your low point.
Its pointless to drive on through a low, better take a break, it just needs waiting out, not fighting, as your subconscious brain is really busy. The low is a way of allowing it to concentrate.
Think of creativity as a lover; when it arrives you drop everything and serve it . It is an opportunity.
When you are making and you have a ‘what if ?’ thought, let it in, try it out, expect disappointment, but it just might open a different door ‘by misdirections finding directions out’ that leads to a real step forward
Don’t judge, just get on with it
Judging needs different skills than creating and its really important to give your new born space and respect
American creativity business coach Tom Monahan said that you shouldn’t try to test the validity of an idea in its fragile early stages, all new ideas have flaws. If you judge too quickly you drag down the whole creative process. Look for what is good about it
Your judgement can be behind the creative curve. Sometimes American Expressionist painter Philip Guston found himself painting what he had destroyed five years earlier because when it first appeared he was not ready to accept it.
Yeah this is the bit you think I can’t deliver but I can, watch me. Some of it might be placebo stuff ( you think it helps so it does)
Here’s some wacky stuff. try to break out of the norm it helps to unrestrict the mind . So an oddly lined notebook frees you up.
Absolute silence hinders creativity, research shows coffee shop noise at no higher than 70 decibels is perfect. You can get it here and I have been using it to write this and its great.
Research also shows that dimming the lights makes you feel safe so more ready to take risks
Don’t take responsibility for creative outcomes –let your imagination entertain you, with something unexpected.
Let projects stew, don’t try and think about solutions directly. They have a way of growing in the dark.
Trying to control and direct deadens what you are trying to achieve. For Gods sake forget the need to sell that’s the cyanide pill of creativity.
You can’t grow as a artist-craftsman without exposing yourself to visual stimulus and Nature alone will not do. You are not a gardener, you are making something man made.
You must expose yourself to the past of your speciality and the contemporary best makers.
You also need to be contrary. If you respond to nature, then walk the city streets. Leave your comfort zone. Bump start your thoughts.
Go to the exhibitions that leave you spaced out and mystified, that make you feel as if you are in a vacuum of something bigger than you.
Seek out unexpected experiences, altering daily routines, abandoning the well travelled neural pathways
Do as many courses as you can afford, adding new techniques to your skill set.
Creativity belongs right across your work. Its not just about product but also about marketing, display, websites; the whole gamut.
Being creatively driven means you assume that everything you touch is up for improvement, you need to look and re look. Sometimes you change something and realise it was better before. That is the cost of always trying to drive things forward.
You must spend time trying to come up with the right questions. What do you need to sort? Forget the solution achieve absolute clarity on the problem. Also look for the assumptions and challenge them.
Here’s an example:
A maker’s problem is they need to create a reliable low cost market stall product to add to their product mix
They examine the fundamentals of that task. One of the assumptions is that the new product must use low cost materials. But what if you turned that on its head and used high cost materials but very little labour so you could make ten in an hour instead of five? Suddenly your creative energy is working in a new and exciting place.
Lone maker and Creativity
Business works with creative teams. Craftspeople mostly don’t have that comfort.
Do not ask your friends and family for opinions, they are terribly unlikely to be truthful or informed.
Seek friendships ( proper ones) with other craftspeople and artists, but paddle your own canoe.
Be an understanding and sympathetic boss to yourself .
Dismiss self doubt on principle.
If you spent all day trying out a new idea that didn’t work consider you had a particularly hard working day, when things work out it feels like play. Just don’t turn it into a melodrama of failure. Its just another working day.
How is it for You?
Creativity makes me hungry, distracted, thirsty, cold, wound up.
I like to approach it at arms length, I collect elements for a post in my ipad notes. I don’t bother about form or headings I just jam it down. I don’t read any of it until I can’t think of any more.
Then I read the stuff and try to see what sections would contain what I have. Then off to Google images to see what could work .
Then its out of creative and into judgement mode putting it all together.
What about you, how do you work it?
Want to see how you come out on a creativity test then try this one
Listen to artist Philip Guston talking for two mins on video about how his paintings emerge here
Check out what sort of crafts person stereotype you think you are here