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May 7 ~Am I a Creative?

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

Are you an artist? A creator? A "Creative?"

Design, a deceptively simple word, is a concept so neatly outlined in this article that I saw no need to summarize it here. What I want to tell you is that designers create at different levels of technical skill and expertise, with different intentions around design use, and with different levels of exposure and accountability. A bridge is a design. A hairstyle is too. If one fails, lives will be lost and a host of lifesaving resources get deployed. If the other fails, repeat clients may be lost, and there might arise the need to save face on the part of the disappointed customer: a wig, perhaps? If you create and experience your creativity in an irrepressible way, you are a Creative. If someone tells you that you aren't, they probably mean "you do not create like I create," which would come across as more accurate, kinder, and less arrogant.

Like physicians, lawyers, and psychotherapists practice their professions, creatives of all stripes create studies in ____________ (you name it). As we get closer and closer to the image in our minds, we experience more satisfaction and, often, more angst!

A 40 year-old divorcee might create his first love poem and decide its first draft is perfect. A fourteen year-old contestant might create a toothpick tower and rebuild it dozens upon dozens of times before it is what she imagined. At a family reunion, a kindergartener and a hundred year-old might create crayon drawings of a house and a dog that look identical to one another's. If they exchange the drawings, they could elicit in one another a joy that a million-dollar painting could not elicit in either. For in that moment, they recognize themselves in one another and form an indelible memory. A family photographer captures the moment and sends it to her cousin in New York whose son works for the New York Times. Suddenly, millions of people are viewing it online and want their own copies. The 40 year-old divorcee is still a poet if he wants to write poems. The fourteen year-old, whether she wins or loses in the contest is still a S.T.E.A.M. leader and toothpick architect, and the artists at the reunion might have no interest in drawing. So, we must be careful how we qualify and quantify what it means to be artistic or creative.

Regardless, when you understand how the designs of the animal and human habitats that help us survive interact with capitalism and mix with our social and professional incentives to innovate and twist around artists' and scientists' and engineers' drive to create and then get conflated with our complicated desire to consume or coopt the work and wealth and cultural pride of others... Whew! ...then perhaps you will understand why we litigate intellectual property, why we create a "pure" category for design categories whose techniques or strategies have not expanded or shifted from one generation to the next, and why creativity is an intelligence we measure - ineffectively - apart from other intelligences.

Here's an idea. Create from the place that feels authentic. Society has ways of letting you know whether you may build the beautiful bridge you've sketched. Architects and engineers require a particular type of education, training, and aptitude. Then, they need special licenses. If you sculpt, describe in fiction, or write a song about a bridge that cannot be safely constructed, you are no less a connector of people, no less an artist, no less creative.

Go ahead, Creative. Design!


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