As creative people in the creative industries we are always on the lookout for new inspiration. Inspiration is very intangible and there are times when we can try to reproduce the way a good project has gone in the past but we can never quite recreate the flow or get the same insight of inspiration. Creative people tend to have an intuition about this process. There is an instinctive realisation that the brain needs to fully disengage in order for that creative spark to happen. We all know that some of our most intuitive creative ideas manifest themselves when we are doing mundane tasks, or when we are half or fully asleep. Sometimes we need complete distraction from the task in hand in order to see things in a fresh light.Composer Steve Reich would apparently ride the subway around New York when he was stuck for inspiration. Many of us have suffered from creative block, and it can be a scary phenomenon when it manifests at the same time as a looming deadline.
So, do we just need to chill? Relax, and let the inspiration simply come to us? Science journalist Jonah Lehrer looks to neuroscience studies on brain activity to explain some of the process: “The relaxation phase is crucial. That’s why so many insights happen during warm showers. One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.” This movement from focussed concentration to mental disconnection can be really important. The musician and producer Brian Eno has his creative process dissected by Eric Tamm in his book “Brian Eno: His music and The Vertical Sound of Colour” and Eno describes it as: “A Practice of some kind. .. It quite frequently happens that you are just treading water for quite a long time. Nothing really dramatic seems to be happening… And then suddenly everything seems to lock together in a different way. It’s like a crystallisation point where you can’t detect any single element having changed”.
This seems to be mirrored in the thoughts of science author Steven Berlin Johnson who in his book “where Good Ideas Come From” talks about the “Slow Hunch” as a primary engine of creativity. He believes that rather than a “Eureka” moment, ideas can need years to gestate, and frequently require the often chance meeting of another idea which is its antithesis. We find we have to try and find a different way of accessing that inspired thought. What Eno is saying is that inspiration is a state of mind, an unconscious process of seeing solutions. The critical point is that you can’t force that to happen. When we try to do this we can find ourselves spinning around stale ideas and becoming increasingly frustrated with the task in hand, and in some extreme cases, almost to the point of creative self-destruction.
Keep a scrap book of ideas, keep a notebook. Stick things on a Pinterest board. Gathering inspiration is a lifelong process. We must be open to receive it every day. Treat every day as an adventure. Look around you, take it all in. It’s all there to inspire you.
Nice animation from ilovedust.
Some (very) rough character sketches. Hmmmmmmmmmmm
Awesome. Subwars. Animated short film by Sean Soong.
On a musical note, this is sooo cool.
This is going to be the first in a number of articles in which I will look into the process I and many others hold as almost a definition of self…
Defining Creativity? Part 1.
What is creativity? It is not something that we can easily define. As an Illustrator and Designer as well as a semi professional musician, the problem of defining creativity has always been one that I have struggled with. The spark of a creative idea is certainly not something that we can touch (although you can certainly touch some of the end results), and yet our global society depends and thrives upon it. As a human society, creativity is one of our most valuable resources.
Science, Art, Business, Economics and almost all other areas of human endeavour and development have creativity and creative thought at their very core. But, where do you find it? You certainly don’t seem to be able to dig it out of the ground.
At its most fundamental level, creativity can be thought of as a process by which we bring something new into being. Nothing more, nothing less. From a very early age, if we are lucky, we are encouraged to create or to be creative.
As human beings are we not required to be creative in all facets of our existence on a daily basis? For example, does the often overused phrase “Think outside the box” not simply imply thinking about a problem in a different way, therefore thinking creatively? We all face situations in our daily lives which require us to adapt and change. To think creatively.
But do we ever really create with a purity of thought, or do we all simply expand on pre-determined ideas? (I actually believe that it is more complex than this, a subject that I will expand upon in later articles.)
Some will say that the ability to think creatively is something that we are born with. You either have it or you don’t. Sure, not everyone has the capacity, drive and patience to become the next Picasso or John Lennon. That does not imply, however, that a myriad of differing creative abilities are not latent within us all. Do those that we think of as genius “thinkers” hold any less value than our great artists? Of course not. No one is going to deny that Plato was a genius creative thinker. And Steve Jobs. Clearly, his thought process manifested itself in our world in many creative ways (I still marvel at my iPod) even if he was not actually the creator of its aesthetics .
Personality type, disposition, upbringing and relationships play a major role in forming who we are and the role we feel we play in the world. From an early age we form an identity, an “I” that we build structure around. This has both positive and negative effects. I like to think of the self as the entirety of the Universe that has been squeezed in to a box and gaffer taped up. The phrases “I can’t” and “I’m not” become part of our personalities from as early as we can remember. Phrases such as “I can’t do that” and “I’m not that creative” are negative false identities that we create and that have an impact on us as we grow older. They grow in strength until we feel that they define who we are. If we are lucky we may have an “I can” attitude to the world, but the reality is that most of us are a mixture of the two.
Stripping everything away, I believe creativity is a mental and emotional process by which we discover new ideas and concepts. No one, however, creates in a vacuum. The creative process relies on associations of existing ideas and concepts. These associations are then combined by conscious insight as well as that most intangible of ideas, the unconscious thought process. Is it these unconscious thought processes that hold the key to true originality? And how do we tap into that?
This is something that we will look into in the next instalment.
Until then, enjoy life people. And stay creative.
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Awesome 2012 Showreel from Nando Costa.