The root cause of creativity
“Necessity is the mother of invention!”
Art and Science are like twins from another mother. Science and Art both require creativity and the courage to explore the world around us as well as the world within us. Observation and gaining insights are the first steps, which then lead to questioning what would happen if we changed certain elements in a given system. Science wants to understand and then use the understanding to innovate, whereas Art wants to understand so to express (the subconscious) and reframe. A lot of times creativity, which is the process of thinking in new, innovative ways is born from a place of pain. If we are joyful and happy, there is little need to change things or think of why things make us happy. We just enjoy where we´re at and want to maintain “what is”.
Whereas if things bug us or if we are in pain and misery, we want to understand why we are where we are, so we can change things. We live in a “positivity” culture, where people tell you to just think positive, and yet, the negativity bias is one of the greatest drivers of evolution. Our negativity bias not only made us spot danger early on in order to secure our survival, but also was a driver to finding more safety through innovation. So, with that said, you might look at your sufferings and pain from another angle. They are a place of potential.
The less resources you have, the more creative you must be!
But, what´s more. Talent and skills are great if you want to live in a world of maintainance, but it´s a lack of skills and resources that makes you have to find ways to cover up those deficits and build bridges towards your goals with what you have. This is where in my opinion artistry is born. Let me give you an example.
If you were to listen to a great vocalist like Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin and you love what you hear and kind of know you have a talent to sing as well, then you may start working on your own vocal technique, make fast progress, master the art of singing and become a copy cat. You like what they did and now want to do that as well! Nothing wrong with that! This is how great performers are born and we all get inspired by others.
However, if you love what you hear but do not have the vocal capacity to copy those great singers, you will have to become “creative” and not just “performative” and find a way to develop your own style instead. Now, instead of singing in a wide range, you will just use your smaller range, but add different instrumentation or changing the melody slightly and the vibe of a song. Your limitations force you to work with other tools and this is where new ideas are born and you develop an original style.
Think of a painter. Let´s say Picasso, who was a great realistic painter painted people who sat for him for years and became a master of copying what he saw in front of him and now one day he decided to paint a scenery from his imagination, instead of something that was placed before his eyes. He might not see all the details, all the places of light and shadow and so on with his mind´s eye, so in order to cover up for the lack of details he might use a mix of colors to place in certain spots just to inform the spectator of something that´s happening there and this lack of “applying the actual rules” and replacing it by more abstract strokes might create interest and a new, modern style.
What I am saying is, that we often get so hung up on trying to master something perfectly instead of embracing our limitations and finding our unique way of expressing something that is dear to our heart, even if we do not have the “full capacity” we think we need.
Do it anyway!
Emmylou Harris once stated something like “Personal style is just our lack of executing things flawlessly” and I totally agree. It´s our flaws that can become our biggest assets. It´s our “lack of” something that makes us look for “insteads” and thus creates original pieces.
You will say, a skilled singer will be able to create new styles as well, by mixing and borrowing from different vocal styles and that is absolutely true and a lot of skilled singers are also amazing creators. But often times, skilled people that can do it all will construct a piece of art, borrowing from what´s already been said and done and thus losing touch with their original intention to express something that´s urgent. This can result in a fun new re-mix for sure. All I am saying is, that this is not the only way to do it and there is a danger of losing the core message.
Dare to be different! Art is not about what is being said, but about how it is being said. All else could be communicated in an essay or through simple prose.
Keep exploring your own artistry and if in doubt, do it anyway! You might find something golden!
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