Creativity: such a subjective term that causes quite a problem of definition. Reading through Punya Mishra, Danah Henriksen & the Deep-Play Research Group’s article entitled “A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity: Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st century,” had me questioning and wondering why it is so difficult to define what is “creativity” or what being creative actually looks like. “A creative solution is NEW, i.e. it is Novel, Effective and Whole or creativity is a goal driven process of developing solutions that are Novel, Effective and Whole,” (Mishra, et. al., 2013, p. 11).
To further understand and define creativity, I interviewed my friend Shane Konte who is an artist (and in my opinion, all around creative person) who currently resides in Portland, OR, a major hub for creativity, art and talent. Through our conversation I found out that Shane has always had a knack for being creative and that he felt that it was something that was innate, passed on through genetics. His mother, to this day, is “crafty,” and does a lot of sewing. During his high school career, he won several Scholastic Art competitions and as a young adult he has been drawing, tattooing and now currently painting as part of his income.
I asked Shane how he would define creativity and he said this: “I think creativity is being able to come up with ideas that aren’t the mainstream and apply it in ways that are unique and captivating to other people.” And when I asked him what inspires him to be creative he said, “I like doing things that other people haven’t done and I like finding ways to do things that other people have done but do them in a different way. I like the fact that I am able to create things because it makes people happy. When I do my paintings it’s very rewarding to know that I made something that was unique and one of a kind, and that someone smiles when they see it — they really cherish it.”
Shane also states that to be creative, you should be open to every idea you come up with. “I would even say in an entrepreneur type-approach, just seek new ideas. Even if the first idea out of your mouth is not something that would be successful or be turned into something – that idea could always spark and grow into another idea that could be the success or solution to something that you’re looking for. So, I think creativity comes down to not necessarily questioning yourself, but also being confident. In order to express yourself in a creative manner you have to be confident because you’re probably pushing the norms in a lot of ways,”he said. “You have to be ready for people to judge you and say ‘no, I’m not okay with that.’ That can be a real personal thing. So just having the confidence and encouraging your students (for example) to speak up and have new ideas and be open-minded to those ideas, because everyone has good ideas and they come from somewhere.”
His final tips or advice to people who feel like they lack creativity, such as myself was to: “basically allow yourself to be open, allow yourself to be confident, and encourage others to do the same.” He also said, “take a risk and don’t second guess yourself. Keep it simple. Take the dive and try something out because that’s the only way something is going to change and things will go anywhere.”
I normally don’t ask Shane about his creativity or what inspires him, I usually just look at his work in awe and tell him that “I wish I could do that!” This assignment inspired me to think about my classroom and how I can take his advice to heart. His points about brainstorming ideas and being more open-minded to them is something I’d like to incorporate.
In my professional life, I think that I normally second-guess my initial thought process and I don’t have a lot of confidence in the ideas that I come up with. I want to turn that mentality around and push myself to take on a new idea for my class and test it out. The worst thing that can happen is that it flops and we are back to ground-zero and I have to re-teach the topic (or unit).
In my personal life, I’d like to try picking up a new artistic hobby — maybe drawing or painting and just push myself to create the first thing that comes to mind and not second-guess it. Just let it flow and be open to others’ opinions after creation rather than be my harshest critic and scrap the creative process entirely.
Check out Shane’s work here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HairyMonkeyBoy
Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013) A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. Tech Trends (57) 5, p. 5-13.