Has someone in your life told you that you’re not artistic, can’t sing, or dance? Perhaps you didn’t make it to grade 5 piano so gave up because you thought you weren’t any good? Well if that’s you, you’re not alone.
As children, many of us are subjected to a lot of common myths surrounding what it means to be creative, then take those beliefs into adulthood.
When I talk about my creative projects like painting there’s often a raft of comments like; ‘I wish I was good at art’, ‘I can’t draw to save my life’, or, ‘you’re so lucky you can paint’. Most of these negative feelings of self sabotage come from our own learnt behaviour as a child, but even though most of know that art is subjective, how can we say we’re no good? After all, how can anyone really be ‘good’ at art, when what’s good to one person is not to another?
A dear friend of mine, runs the amazing Chandos Atelier, which run un-prescriptive, exploratory, art & making experiences to children and adults. I love Emma’s ethos and the way she runs her sessions. In Emma’s own words ‘We don’t teach art – we facilitate learning through art. By giving space and encouragement we try hard to share the belief that there are not really mistakes in the process of making art, just chances and opportunities that we wouldn’t’ve otherwise come across.’
When we are children we come up with ideas and are not afraid to try things out, but as we get older we become more cautious, and overthink many things we do. By comparing, worrying, having self doubt, and often being more concerned about the end result and what others might say, we can often stifle the creative process.
A couple of months ago Emma appeared on the fantastic podcast, Creative Cuppa. Emma talks passionately about her joy of creativity and her belief that we need creative thinkers. Something that I feel extremely passionate about.
Many years ago now, I recall my Dad naively referencing that I hadn’t used my degree (which was in Textile Design and Surface Decoration), as I wasn’t a designer. To which I very quickly corrected him, ‘but Dad I have been using my creativity in ways beyond using a paint brush throughout my whole career’, to which he seemed baffled by. I went onto roll off the many examples of creative thinking and problem solving I had used even in the last few years.
After experiencing first hand the work of Paul McKenna’s Neurolinguistics programming (NLP) seminars, Susie Pearl, author of The Art of Creativity. Susie concluded that ‘Creativity isn’t something we are born with, we don’t simply have it or we don’t, but we can be taught to develop skills of creativity, given the right mind training’.
But what do we exactly mean by Creativity?
So firstly there is artistic creativity: for example, the visual arts, music, literature, design, architecture, film and video, TV and radio, crafts and advertising. All of these fall under the umbrella of the ‘creative industries’.
But there is also a more general kind of creativity, which we might call ‘ingenuity’, ‘innovation’, ‘invention’, ‘lateral thinking’, or simply ‘problem solving’. We can find this kind of creativity in all areas of our lives.
Anyone that has ever worked with me will know that I like to think around problems, often prefer to think out side the box that follow the predictable prescript approach. These skills have developed over years, through the twists and turns in my career, but it’s quite clear to me that my artistic projects have made use of these skills and vice versa. The two are not isolated, but work in harmony with each other.
World economic forum predicts the workforce is automating faster than expected, displacing 85 million jobs in next five years, particularly in manufacturing, transport and administration. Making creativity one of the top skills needed; to support the digital sectors finding creative solutions to problems.
I hope the way in which we can each view our own creativity can change, be a bit more childlike in our exploration, less self critical, and embrace our own unique possibilities.
I would encourage the ‘creative’ in all our young people, by giving them space to see anything is possible, and that creativity comes in all disguises.