In business and in life, “creativity” is the latest buzzword. Articles, podcasts, videos all urge CEOs to foster creativity in their employees. Your personal life is somehow lacking if you aren’t being creative. What nonsense.
Not every company or institution rewards creativity and you don’t need to spend your spare hours creating artwork. But what is it, really? What’s the attraction?
Creativity can be anything from asking questions, changing your perspective, or challenging the status quo all the way to artistic genius. No one element has more value than another, they are simply the ways an individual makes real the very human urge to create, to observe, to live a life filled with inspiration and wonder.
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
— CHARLES MINGUS, jazz musician
For me, it’s all about curiosity. Asking questions, especially those beginning with What if…? As an artist, I need a lot of alone time to ask, to listen to my inner voice, to feel the way I react to sensory input. But at some point I need feedback, an audience, to complete the loop of the creative process.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
— MAYA ANGELOU, poet
I know the viewer’s response to my work makes a significant contribution to my continued growth as an artist. Presenting my work in a gallery setting, whether virtual or real, is a way to invite that kind of feedback.
You certainly don’t have to have any kind of specialized training to react to art, although this is a question I get all the time. Art should grab you emotionally and ultimately make you think or feel something. Positive or negative, elated, angry, inspired, confused – any of those are fine, but if you’re indifferent about the work, then I haven’t connected with you.
No artist or creative work reaches every other person. So you may not see what I see and you don’t have to understand it in order to respond to my work (or any artwork). You definitely don’t have to say you like something in order to please the artist. While it may be viable feedback, it’s not valuable to the artist. It may be a higher compliment to say that you’re puzzled or disturbed by a particular piece of art, for the artist wants to reach your inner core that you may not open up any other way.
The reactions to my work don’t change what I do – and by that I mean I don’t adapt my style or my subject matter to meet someone else’s preferences or expectations. My vision and the output are still my own. But communicating with viewers and readers is part of what art’s all about. Maybe inviting the dialogue is the most accurate definition of creativity.