What is Creativity?

Kapil Vaishnani
by Kapil Vaishnani  |  26th Nov, 2013 in Life

Can creativity be captured in words? Can it be defined? Most important, can it be cultivated?

If the best way to predict your future is to create it; isn’t it a tad sad, we never make the effort of creating a beautiful future?

Who can create an object of beauty?

Obviously, a person who has the courage and the conviction to follow his heart’s desire in a dogged manner of a besotted lover who cannot allow anyone or anything to stand in his way!

Creativity, I think has nothing to do with a particular artistic activity – painting, poetry, dancing, designing, sculpturing or singing. Creativity has nothing to do with anything. Yet all these activities can be creative – if an artist is able to bring a touch of his uniqueness to that piece of work.

Does that make sense?

Creativity is not an activity. It’s a quality – a sort of purity – that you bring to an activity. The activity in itself may be value-neutral. Singing or sculpturing, for instance can be creative pursuits, only if the artist lends something uniquely personal of himself to that art form. He can, for instance choose to paint abstract cubes or twisted, non-charitable portraits of his dear ones in the typical Pablo Picasso style; or he can choose a highly impressionable, poetic for his yearnings in Van Gogh style and both outputs would be legitimate and creative – only if they characterize the person who made them.

Going by that logic, even a sweeper can be creative, if she has mastered the technique of mopping the floor in a certain, difficult-to-define way that leaves it polished and sparkling and no one else is able to do it in the manner that she does. Likewise, the chai-vendor at the corner store can be creative if he uses a masala (spice) in his tea that spreads its aroma far and wide, and no one can figure out what exactly it is!

Creativity to my mind is a mysterious quality that you bring to your work. It defines the intrinsic worth of a piece. It captures a creator’s attitude, his inner approach, the meaning he attaches to the material and the non-material world around him; the people he values etc. In short, it defines how he views the world around him and uses that inspiration in a very special, creative manner.

The thumb rule of creativity then is that it must capture the essence of the artist – his values, sensibility, even the way he walks, talks, dresses or designs or deals with his friends and folks. Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, doing nothing, while contemplating the meaning of life and the mysterious world around us can also be creative, provided the artist has figured out the meaning of that experience.

Have you ever played word association with your child?

Show her a drop of oil floating on water and ask her what it reminds her of and I can bet my bottom dollar, she won’t say, “Its oil floating on water, Dad.”

Indeed she’ll travel far beyond that mundane meaning and say something as unique as “it’s a rainbow” and you if you look closely, you might also be able to spot the sun’s glowing rays making a rainbow on that film of oil. The other day, I threw a wad of cotton at my daughters and played the same trick. My eldest one said it reminded her of “snow,” but I loved the response of my little one, who said, “It reminds me of a cuddly polar bear, I’d watched with Daddy on the National Geographic.”

Now, that’s really creative.

We are fools when we attempt to destroy a child’s natural-born creativity, while teaching them rules of painting, singing, dancing – what have you! Doing so, we force beliefs on them, bind them to norms, distract them, and worse, simply kill their unique way of making sense of the world around them. Endless modification, repairing, editing and revisiting saps spontaneity out of an artist’s work that can easily become a masterpiece!

Picasso once said, “To finish a picture? What nonsense!”

Finish implies ending, whereas creativity is just the beginning – of self-discovery. Go deeper; master the tides of emotions to one day, accidentally land at the heart of your soul, which is the point from where all creativity springs.

If you are really serious about creating something unique, climb out of your confines. Do the unthinkable. Begin to explore your creative territory. Don’t set any limits – go anywhere and everywhere you want to in your imagination. A clever wag once observed, “Our world is a cosmic blender.” What he implied was anything and everything can inspire an artist’s work, if he has the courage to take that experience within himself and contextualize it to create the final stunning output.

Don’t grope in the dark. “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

I suggest you begin to move forward, now, if you are in search of the creator in you.

Kapil Vaishnani

Founder – Chairman, Litmus Branding Pvt. Ltd.
Very grounded, very centered and happy in his own skin and the work that he does – that’s Kapil Vaishnani for you!

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