Creativity is not creation. It is reorganization.
While visionary artists claim that art arises from an innate personal vision revealed in the creative act itself, I think Albert Einstein was more on the mark when he said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
One of the most common misconceptions about creativity is that it involves a moment of magic in which the incredible art idea appears (poof!) out of thin air. The truth is less romantic. Everything comes from somewhere. All ideas have been thought before and all artists, especially the most brilliant, have their sources of inspiration. Even the artists who finger painted wildlife on the cave walls in Lascaux got their ideas from the necessity to document the habits of the wildlife that sustained them .
Can you think of any major city that doesn’t have an art district? There is a reason why artists tend to cluster together within urban areas. Interacting with other creative individuals makes each more creative. An excellent and common way for artists to be more creative, is to observe and learn from each other....and believe me. It happens. I can’t think of a single artist who doesn’t borrow techniques and ideas. It all generates a kind of momentum...an energy, and as a result, this "competition' with one another increases effort.
It is vital for artists to visit galleries and museums with some degree of frequency. Everyone can learn from observation. Eventually, you will note how these museum trips will also reveal the passage of ideas through history. Can’t make it to a museum? Not a problem. Today is the ideal time for creative people because the internet has connected everything and allows us to draw inspiration from classic works of art and our finest contemporaries without leaving our homes. Be prudent in your observations, however. If one absorbs a mediocre style, his or her output will be mediocre. However, if the artist scours the museums for the most thoughtful, passionate creations in existence, his or her own inspiration will follow.
When you see a piece of work that you admire, dissect it carefully in your mind and discover exactly what makes it work. Note that collecting inspiration is distinctly different from plagiarism. If another person’s work has influenced your own, make sure the ideas that occur to you during observations are adjusted to meet your own artistic needs... that they reflect your personal artistic spirit and innermost thoughts and emotions. Just as Amadeus Mozart mocked the style of Antonio Salieri for the occasional laugh, in this way, you can transmit the exact message that you wish to convey. …and remember also, that variety is important. The work of the artist who repeatedly explores only one area of art will eventually have a dull generic feel even in its’ technical perfection. It is always important to push the boundaries of one’s level of comfort to explore new areas.
Creativity isn’t a spark. It is a huge boiling pot!
Sample an enormous amount of creative work and you’ll produce an inspirational soup. As harsh as this sounds, genuine creativity doesn’t exist, particularly in a cosmic sense. Living beings don’t create life, the existing matter is already there.Nothing original has actually been created since the Big Bang. It is our job as artists to repurpose whatever it is into offspring of whom we can be proud.
David Lynch at Berkeley
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