Thursday, September 13, 2012

How To Be Creative Until You Die

Are there prime ages for creativity? I hope not...because I hate the thought of uncontrollable absolutes being out there (yes, I know the obvious one).  There are so many factors involved in creative output - a big one being the culture in which you live and ours tends to favor the young.  Being outside of the "chosen" set can be discouraging, but let's face it, it's better than the alternative.

My goal is to do more than just stay creative - I want to know how to actually reinvent my artwork continually throughout the rest of my life. The prevailing science seems to indicate that there are two main approaches to creativity - the "experimentalist" and the "conceptualist." So says a study called Age + Creativity by David W. Galeson. In the study, he looks at a wide range of creativity, from art to science, and concludes "my work suggests that it is the characteristics of the individual that determine the shape of the creative life cycle. This implies that our opportunities for creativity are not dictated by our professions, but are determined by our own choices and abilities."

Looking at these two very different approaches to creativity, which do you think you are? The experimentalist is constantly on the search, but never quite attaining that perfect work. The process becomes the important part. They usually have a lot of things going and find that the "goal" keeps moving forward - the more they know, they more that want to know and generally have a lifetime of exploring. This is in contrast with the conceptualist, for them it is the idea which becomes paramount. That flash of insight, which is often planned minutely, and then the process of production is almost an after thought. This type tends to have those big splashes...but after that...not so much. I'm not sure if we can choose which type we want to be - but hey, why not give it a shot? 

I think life-long creativity has certain elements: must be willing to take a risk, to be uncomfortable, to risk looking foolish or awkward or even (especially) stupid! Turning off that "voice" in your head usually helps. 

Change, which often rides with its friend Risk.  As we get older we get more established - we can end up using the same set of solutions. Some of that is self-preservation so we don't have to reinvent the wheel every day, but if we're not careful, our avoidance of change can stop our growth. On the other hand, it's not enough to gobble up the latest trends and move with them - find a balance that allows you to bring in the best of the new and blend it with the strengths you already have. 

Obsession. It's been my experience that, once I get serious about a goal, then solutions start to present themselves. It's not that the solutions weren't always there, but in the act of identifying the goal...we start to understand what we're looking for.

• Persistance...just sticking with the process even after failing more than a few times. This goes with a willingness to work hard, to push yourself.

Be An Outsider - beginner's mind if you will. Being a "newby" with just enough information to do something, but not so much that you start limiting yourself, is a great way to stay continuously creative.

Good luck...let me know how it goes...

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