The Agency Record Blog

Deconstructing the Creative Process – Part 2

What counts as creativity? And is it a uniquely Human activity or ability?

Pardon my reductionist tendencies for a moment while I boil down the whole of humanity to two gross generalizations:

  • We are the only species on the planet capable of truly creative thought. Ants and termites and birds have been building homes for billions of years, but they have always instinctively done it the same way. Primates are resourceful, using materials at hand to fashion tools, but I would argue this isn’t true creativity. Feel free to disagree. I have seen elephants who can paint, and this has definitely rattled my cage on my main point, but I am still unwilling to cede any ground here.

  • Humans alone have the capacity to act upon creative thought to produce what was conceived. For the astute reader, yes, this covers my bet in the first assertion, in case I might be wrong. I have no idea what the elephant is thinking when he paints, but I know he cannot set up a manufacturing plant to design and make jumbo-sized paintbrushes.

So what counts as creative thought? Is it purely intellectual, or inextricably joined with action? If I have a creative thought but do nothing more about it, have I truly been creative? (I know this line of questioning smacks of old rhetoric about trees dropping in forests, but bear with me, I am creating something here. For some masterpeices, the canvas must first be primed.)

Today, there are more creative tools available to the average human than at any other time in history. Audio and Video production is accesible to nearly anyone with an audiovisual itch to scratch, but this is only a decade after it was still solely in the purview of well-financed movie studios and record labels. Much has changed, but just because the tools are prevalent doesn’t necessarily mean that those using them are creative or inspired. Does it?

And where does creativity leave off, and training and experience take its place? A classically trained pianist can perform masterpeices, but if he has never composed a note of his own, is he creative, or merely well-trained?

These are just a few of the thoughts and questions I have had during a life spent pursuing creativity and experiencing and discovering my own creative processes. And if you will indulge me, I’ll continue this ponderous rant in the weeks to come.

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