Monday, February 18, 2013

8 Principle of Creativity. Lessons from Bert Dodson.

Hello creative souls!

Have you ever wondered where creativity comes from? Or what makes a certain act "creative"? I often ask myself these and many other questions about creativity. In one of my earlier posts I speculated about creativity being a form of "undetected plagiarism" (in William Ralph Inge's words). In this post, I would like to talk about some points made by Bert Dodson in his book Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Your Creativity .
While the book aims to develop an artist's imagination and apply it to visual art, many principles of creativity that Mr. Dodson points out can definitely be applied to a variety of life's activities:
  • Creativity occurs in action: Theorizing about creativity does not help much if one does not do much. Creativity occurs in the process of creating.
  • Creativity begins with simple ideas: There is no need to wait for great creative ideas to hit you. Starting with small ideas and actually working with them will eventually lead you to better and bigger ideas. 
  • Creativity lives in the present: The point is to do it now. One has to be engaged with one's work, be focused in the present instead of thinking about a future goal to be more creative.
  • Creativity increases with practice: Disappointment in the execution of one's ideas is normal and happens for almost everyone. Ideas almost always look better in our imagination then on paper/in reality. That is why it is important to practice your craft and do it a lot!
  • Creativity increases as judgment and criticism decrease: It is easy to discourage yourself with general self-criticism like "I don't have any ideas" or " I have lots of ideas, but I don't [insert what you do] well enough".  Silence that self-critic.
  • Creativity likes constants and specifics: While exercising freedom in your craft is good, complete freedom can overwhelm us by possibilities. Our imagination needs something to push against, a problem to solve. That is why "it is ironic that constraints can actually give you more freedom." This principle makes me think of Project Runway. When given certain parameters to work with participating designers have no time to entertain endless options about what they can make. They have to come up with the decision fast! That pressure can fuel one's creativity.
  • Creativity emerges in experimentation, manipulation and exploration: This principle is self-explanatory.
  • Creativity is about having a plan and a willingness to depart from it: Spin off, add-ons and variations are a natural occurrence in the creative process and should be embraced and exercised as they can often lead to new creative projects. 

Although many of these principles are not new I find a reminder is always good. Suggestions like suspending judgment, working with rougher materials (as opposed to your best ones), not planning out your work are all great ways to boost your creativity. And if you are into visual art definitely take a look at Dodson's book for more advice on expanding your imagination.

What about you? Do you ever find yourself stuck or disappointed? What do you do to let your creativity thrive?

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