About one-and-a-half years ago, I followed a minor at art school. It were probably 5 of the most interesting months of my life, mainly because I could spend my days doing photography and make videos and actually get grades for that. One of the things that stuck by me most was the below video which was shown in media class. John Cleese, who is a fantastic comedian and actor, talks about why creativity is not a talent. It might appear peculiar, as we always say things like: “But you are such a creative talent!”
Cleese says it is a way of operating. It is not an ability you have or don’t have and it has nothing to do with IQ. In fact, most creative people have the ability to play and in this state are more childlike. They explore ideas not for immediate practical purpose but solely for entertainment. I suggest you watch the video as Cleese is very good at describing the process of creativity.
I see myself as a creative person. Not because I am extremely talented in either drawing or photography. Even in my creative field of choice, which is writing, I do not excel compared to far more experienced authors. The reason why I do consider myself creative is because my approach to a new idea allows me to discover new things. It allows me to make mistakes. “What if cats are truly the rulers of the world?” (this is just an idea okay, I am more of a dog person).
I observe cats. I watch how cats behave. I spend time with them. I imagine what they are thinking and if world domination is truly on their minds. I make up characters and I let those characters occupy my mind. I talk to them. They talk to me. They become real to me and tell me a story and I write this story on paper. Sometimes I think the story is great. Other times I think it is terrible and I delete it as soon as possible. But I learn by doing. By playing. By creating. I learn by doing things. I learn by making art.
Make good art
I also recommend watching the above video of Neil Gaiman who made an excellent speech about making good art.
Having a degree in creative arts does not make you more of a creative genius than those without a degree. In fact, I think those who have not studied to become artists are more free in their approach to their work. We are not bound to rules set by colleges. We are free to discover what is wrong and what is right and we learn by doing. By playing. Not by being assessed. This does not mean that dislike art schools. On the contrary, I loved every second of my time there. I was shocked however by how many students looked down upon us, the ‘non-creative’ people. “It must be hard for you to be here. I mean, you’re not used to the creative process. We are because we are artists.”
You are not just an artist because you study an art. You are an artist if you create something, anything, and consider yourself an artist. I have been writing since I was 9-years-old. I did not choose to do an art course because I wanted to make sure I could get a job (I know, lame but I have to eat). In the meantime, I try my best to become a better writer and hopefully publish stories. But I am every bit as creative as they are, because I create. I write, I play.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not creative or that you are not an artist when you identify as one. Just keep the child in you alive. Be curious. Be brave. Create.