The poet John Keats talked about “Negative Capability”, a willingness to live with mystery, make peace with ambiguity, and embrace uncertainty. The search for the unknown drove the poet to use imagery and sound effects to write his three famous odes. The video below focuses on creativity in art. The term creativity is often linked to art and artists. But a creative approach to thinking is necessary in innovation, science, and social science.
The idea that creativity is the same as creating art can be seen in many popular presentations about creativity. For example, Ken Robinson, an adviser on education in the art, challenges the way children are educated. He suggests that art can be used as a way to unlock creativity.
When Ken Robinson talks about ways to prevent schools from killing creativity in children, he suggests that schools should pay more attention to painting, sculpture, music, and drama. But is it enough to simply be involved in art? Or is something needed for a person to be creative and to have a creative approach to thinking?
Any artist knows that simply being exposed to art does not help you develop into an artist. A painter needs to learn to think in colours, an artist working with sculptures need to think in 3D, and a songwriter needs to learn to think in lyrics. A child who is copying someone else’s idea is never going to learn to think creatively about art or gain a creative approach to thinking that can be used to create innovations. The child simply learns to use different techniques, such as mixing colours and drawing perspectives.
Yet exposing a child to ways to transform a toilet roll into a puppet can be used to teach a child to think creatively. Just like an innovator can learn by engaging and adopting methods that artists use. For example, twisting and turning ideas around like an artist making a sculpture has to consider all the different angles from which the sculpture can be viewed.
Skills and knowledge about how to paint and innovate are not enough – a person needs to be aware of what he or she is doing. If you want to splash paint on a huge canvas on the floor to show your emotions, you need awareness of what you are doing. The moment you start to improve upon the outburst of emotion – you probably end up ruining the painting.
Musician Phil Collins said this in an interview about how he wrote the lyrics to the song “In the Air Tonight”.
“The first time, the last time we ever met’… Contradiction?
I didn’t go back to look at the thing and say – ‘Now, does this make sense because someone’s gonna ask me years later?’ I just said, ‘does that sound good?’ – ‘It’s the first time, the last time we ever met’ You know, I said, ‘yeah, that sounds great’. Because I’m not very good with words. I mean, although I’m writing lyrics, I’m not very good with words talking.”
An innovator needs to have a frame and awareness of when to stop twisting and turning the ideas around to make the innovation look good. Visual appeal is important yet an innovation that lacks practicality is deemed to fail.
While you watch the video compare creative thinking in art with creative thinking in innovation. Enjoy!