Breaking the myth: Creativity can’t be learned
When I first tell an acquaintance that I am a graphic designer, I typically receive the warmest responses filled with encouragement. “Wow, you must be so creative!” “I bet you are such an artist!” “I could never do that, I am more math brained.” Though these responses boost my morale a bit, I’m always left puzzled. You know those off-handed comments that people mention in small talk, sometimes those comments linger with me, and I begin to over-analyze. Most likely, I’m not alone in this conundrum! Today I wanted to share why these friendly responses rub me the wrong way, and how you can change your mindset if you currently agree with those responses.
What begins as friendly small talk, can often tell a lot about the mindset that others have. Though these responses encouraging my career path and skill set are overall positive, I find that they are also self-deprecating and critical of oneself. Why is it because I am a graphic designer, that somehow my creativity level is put on a pedestal above my peers? Though I have a bachelors of fine art (BFA) in graphic design, that doesn’t make me any more or less creative than the mommy blogger, computer engineer or social media expert.
So, can you learn creativity? My answer is a resounding YES! Let’s dive into how:
Why yes, creativity can be learned
Everyone is creative, but it looks different for each person. Many people associate creativity with fine arts: painting, design, photography, music, theater. This myth wildly limits the spectrum of creativity, and excludes the rest of the population. Creativity isn’t reserved for artists, it is a mindset that just requires a bit of cultivating.
Spend time honing in on your creative perspective, and refine from there. Maybe this looks like problem solving, writing, teaching or parenting. One of my favorite topics in school has always been math. In pre-calculus, I especially enjoyed proofs. Did I lose you here?!? I can hear your gasps now, that I actually enjoyed proofs! They were a form of problem solving to me. I challenged myself to solve the puzzle as fast as I could, and explore what substitutions I could make to work my way to the solution. Math is highly creative, and involves creative strategy and brainstorming. Take the time to discover what makes you creative, and embrace it!
Cultivate your creativity
It isn’t one single moment, a spark of genius, or one idea. The beauty of creativity is that it is an ongoing process. It is all about the mindset, and positioning ourselves for creative thoughts. If you count yourself off of the “creativity” wagon, than you are stifling that creativity and neglecting the freedom to explore innovative ideas.
Keep a notebook handy, Google doc or Evernote app to record your ingenious ideas! Through recording your ideas, you welcome creativity and the brainstorm process that inevitably comes.
I absolutely love this quote from my friend, Fran: “We all have creativity, but it needs to be cultivated — the more you use it, the more creative you are.” This sentiment is so true, and a reminder that it is important to allow for creative moments, and not to stifle them.
Add a dose of play
When writing this post, I decided to take the conversation to Twitter, and see what my friends thought about creativity. I absolutely loved the conversation happening, and adored Ashley Beaudin’s response: “Creativity is at its best when its mixed with a playful spirit.” Can someone please create an art print of this quote, to remind me of this daily?!? Getting creative, embracing unique ideas and brainstorming can be such a fun + playful process. Don’t set parameters or expectations. Avoid limiting your creativity. Leave room for new ideas, and embrace them!
[Tweet “”Creativity is at its best when its mixed with a playful spirit.” –@ashleybeaudin”]
This sentiment is exactly why I actually take one day off a week from client work, and devote it to side projects. I am such a brainstormer, and always dreaming of new ideas. Through devoting 20% of my work week to play and get creative outside of client work, I stay renewed, inspired, and consistently develop refreshing ideas. I highly recommend incorporating “play” into your schedule one way or another. It really adds energy to your business, and keeps you moving forward!
In the spirit of “everyone can learn to be creative,” I’ve created a course for you! If you are eager to learn how to create share-worthy design + get your blog noticed online, I’ve got you covered. I created a 3-part course, all about how to get creative with your branding, and stand out online. Did I mention it was FREE?!? I really believe everyone can learn the essentials of design, and use it to their advantage to get noticed on Pinterest.