I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why the theme of creativity makes me behave like I’m on a mission to discover the secret of mankind or something.
Maybe, I am – or maybe I’m just acting on my impulses like an alien just visiting planet Earth for a limited time. Whatever the reason, it’s fun so I will carry on.
This transcendent act of creativity feels exhuberant. It anchors my life and pivots me in different directions of inspiration. It’s like a wave on the shore – you can’t catch it, or hold onto it but you can see the energy, the momentum, the cause and effect it has on all things it touches. And, I came to a conclusion that the reason why creativity can be trixy is because we sometimes restrict its natural flow. And, the flow originates from inside each and every one of us – even you, yes you.
Let's start at the beginning
When you were first creative – you might consider the creation of you. It was pretty unique. In fact, the odds of you being born is about one in 400 trillion. I’m not down with the latest miracle this side of AD, but on the originality scale, it’s better than Uber, Snapchat and the iPhone put together.
So, with those incredible odds why do so many of us shy away from being creative and feel unoriginal?
And, I'm not talking about creating a drawing, dress, novel or product. I'm talking about creating the version of yourself that feels right, connects to your core and is inexplicably and undeniably you. Dr Suess said it best;
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
But E.E.Cummings nailed why being creative isn't easy;
‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.’
I just finished reading a wonderful book 'The Art of Creative Thinking' by Rod Judkins, an artist and lecturer at Central St Martins and he says;
‘Everyone is searching for originality, ironically it is right there within them, but most people are too busy being someone else. Creative people are prepared to be themselves. They make the most of their own experiences whether good or bad. The advantage of being themselves is that they are original. There is no one like them. This makes whatever they do unique.’
As a designer
I think in terms of patterns and shapes, colour and monochrome, flat and textured, landscape or portrait. But, that's just a tiny fraction of me. I also see the world according to my childhood, my parents, the battle of the roses and being the youngest of three sisters. The friendships and relationships I've been lucky to have and unfortunate to loose. The jobs, the places I've lived and the amazing communities visited. All of these experiences have shaped my world, in possibly expected and unexpected ways. But, the point I'm making is that they are uniquely mine. And, so are yours. Own them with pride. No one sees the world like you do, so don't be scared of being different. That's what makes the world an interesting place to live.
'In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different'. Coco Chanel
The avant-guard french fashion designer Coco Chanel knew what she liked and what she didn't, she had a strong instinct and vision. In a world where corsets were the standard of good taste and stature, she believed that 'Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury'. She changed the face of fashion in the 20s and her little black dress is a staple in many women's wardrobe today. All it takes is to own your ideas, believe in them and don't worry what everyone else is doing.
And, if you're still wondering how to connect to the raw creative flow. Go get a piece of paper, find a quiet comfy spot and write down all the things you loved when you were a child. Now, take time out to discover the things that pique your interest, engage your curiosity and go set yourself free and run with it.
Whether it's that you want to start roller-blading again after 19 years or have a desire to collect marvel comics. You want to start a charity to help neglected Guinea pigs (it's a thing) or you want to create the best party for your five year old son who loves Strictly Come Dancing or you want to start a coaching start-up for women in charity or improvisation classes in schools for disengaged kids. Don't wait for a sign or permission because you'll be waiting forever, just go do it.
Finally, if you need an extra kick-start this is the quote from Judkins' thought-provoking book that inspired me to write this article.
'Don't be distracted by the views of others: focus on what engages and inspires you. The most exhilarating experiences are generated in the mind, triggered by information that challenges our thinking. If you're excited by a subject that no one else is, all that should matter to you is that you're interested. Revolutionary thinkers who create totally new ideas are driven by their interests, not whether or not others are as interested'.
Write it down. Read it everyday until you know every word and give yourself the permission you need, to be you.