Monday, 23 April 2012

Creativity, the talent myth and craft

The process of creating original ideas that have value; more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.” - Sir Ken Robinson

This quote was taken from a TEDtalk that Sir Ken Robinson did on whther or not schools kills creativity. Which is quite a statement to make seeing as schools are meant to be, and indeed have been assumed, to nurture a childs mind. Yet, I can't help but agree with Sir Robinson's logic, bringing up the case that we are all born creative, and that as children we ARE creative but going through schooling and being taught that making mistakes is the worst thing we can do actually harms our creativity in a near fatal way. We don't grow out of creativity, we're educated out of it.

He goes on to say that 'if you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original'. And that was the most profound thing I've heard in a long time. It really made me think back to being a kid and that how I would have done whatever regardless of whether it would work out in the end, doing it solely for the point of doing. However after having gone through schooling I became less and less creative, I would take fewer risks, weigh up whether something was worth my time and rarely being adventurous. On top of this I'm quite a cynical person, not necessarily pessimistic, more realistic... and how odd that feels to realise that is probably holding me back. Is there a link between being creative and being stupid? By that I mean making silly decisions with the 'give anything a go' attitude.

On top of this I might be narcissistic to a degree, and a narcissist will rarely (if ever) admit to being wrong and will do whatever they can to make themselves never fail in the eyes of others because self-image is so important. I say to a degree because a true narcissist would deny being one altogether. Naturally, they will take fewer chances and thus taking into account what Robinson said about not being prepared to be wrong, would that mean narcissists as a whole are generally uncreative?

Of late I've also been doubting my imagination, not the quality of the drawings I do but the overall substance within them. I look at truly creative people's drawings of, say characters and am always befuddled as to how they come up with this stuff. My designs look simple by comparison. However, for a while now I've been aware of how important risk taking is in art, that it is a big part of learning the medium and that it is even encouraged so I've taken it upon myself to really drive it home every time I pick up a pencil. The results so far have boosted my confidence, doubled, if not tripled the amount of work I produce and the improvement in just the last year has been drastically larger then the last three combined. All because I take more risks. From small things like a mere brush-stroke to larger endeavours such as an entire painting. Before where I might have cut my losses and started something else, now I continue and see where it takes me, always appreciating the fact that ideas can come from the most mundane of places.

Back to the creativity of children. The reason they are generally creative is because they're not frightened of being wrong; too young to know of consequences they continue doing what they want. Picasso once said that 'All children are born artists; the problem is to remain artists as we grow up.” To which I can agree. What is being an artist if not the constant pursuit of creativity? To which children do this day in day out without realising. It just comes easy to them.

When we grow up we often lose that capacity and end up becoming frightened of being wrong.”

Can you argue against this? Companies and education systems scorn those who make mistakes, especially in companies where it could cause you to be unable to provide for your family. Noone wrong for not taking risks, if anything that's smart but the fact remains that it kills our creative capacity.

Yet with all this said it's odd that to a lot of companies, talent is more important then experience to the point where people who are perceived to be talented can get promoted faster and are groomed for the high spots where those who just have experience in the field are either left there or pushed out. I feel odd even wondering this but why is talent so highly regarded over experience? Surely an experienced person will know what decisions to make and be generally a safer bet. Low risk, low reward? I understand why talent is sought after, that's obvious, but it just seems weird that companies go on crazy recruitment drives getting people right out of universities, putting them above their preconceived payroll and neglecting those who lack creativity but have been solid workers. Is it the need to be the best, to be seen as the most innovative company around?

The talent myth assumes that people make organizations smart. More often than not, it's the other way around.” -anon

It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.” A final statement towards a company that died because it put too much stock in the talent myth, hiring anyone who was talented, because they were talented. Not for their experience (often lack thereof). I feel that it is quite a profound statement as it makes me wonder whether or not people who lack talent, or rather have less than what deems them talented, are essential to a business or teams success, as much as talented people, due to the way they work.

So with all this said about people 'growing out of creativity' and how I myself have tried to become more creative after realising I just wasn't by forcing myself to make mistakes and accept them I believe that like any skill; be it art, humour, chess etc, that we all have it within our power to become creative.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? 

The Talent Myth

Narcissism, Self Actualism, and Patrick Bateman

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