The Two Faces of Creativity

The creative process often seems like a spiritual performance in that the artist appears to be blessed with a godlike vision into new insights. We all stubble upon those moments where new ideas just seem to be raining down upon us, although, truth be told, most of the time the connection with the creative source seems broken or even completely cut off. Opening up this connection and staying connected with the creative well has often been the theme of my posts on this blog. For any artists there are a number of methods to encourage creativity in ourselves, and it’s absolutely necessary to be aware of these methods and use them in order to develop this creativity of ours.

Creativity simply doesn’t come by itself. Most importantly I believe – and this I have pointed out before – is to do the actually work. As artist we need to keep creating, we need to transform our internal vision into something concrete, be it a photograph, a painting, a sculpture, a video, a performance or playing with our kids. The creative process thus consists of two faces: Creation and Execution. The creation is the mental or spiritual part of the process but if we don’t execute the idea, in the end we have not created anything at all. Eventually if we keep omitting the execution of the creation, our creative ability languishes and we will be cut off from our creative source. There are moments in the creative process when creation is present, but there are many more moments when it is not. Often the execution doesn’t involve creativity; it can even be boring in that we just have to implement the creative impulse; for instance as photographers applying the right technique in order to get a pictures as we had envisioned.

Sometimes creation and execution goes hand in hand, for example again as photographers trying out different settings in Photoshop. But without any execution, creation will only be but an idea. For that reason I find it useful to distinguish between creativity and creating. Creativity usually refers to inventing something new. According to Webster’s Dictionary creativity is defined as «creative ability; artistic or intellectual inventiveness». On the other hand create is defined as «to originate; to bring into being from nothing; to cause to exist».

So let’s go out there and create, let’s encompass both creation and execution.


34 thoughts on “The Two Faces of Creativity

  1. Wonderful photo and well said! If you are not knocking on the door no one will hear you or answer it.

  2. You’re right, it is a spiritual performance, and it’s so great when that area is at its strongest. Sometimes when I realize that I’m fighting with a painting, I let it have its way. It’s always for the better. If my life is crammed with too much society, and I don’t have my quiet time, I lose that godlike connection. One has to get still to tap into it, or at least that’s what works best for me. Z

    1. Being creative is always a struggle – at least that’s my experience. But most of the time a very satisfying struggle. And stillness is definitely one way to top into the creative well.

  3. Amazing photograph… Wonderful post again and I agree with you dear Otto, creation and Execution, not one of them, but both… Thank you, love, nia

  4. Otto, another inspiring post and on a subject close to my heart … so close I blogged on the subject just yesterday 🙂

    Sometimes I feel I’m more creative than artistic … other times the other way around. I want you to know that I mightily resisted using the term ‘creative’ vs ‘creationist’! 😉
    Sometime the muse speaks other time she is silent … no, more than silent … obstructionist! I go for a walk those days … I calm down and she generally speaks to me again 🙂

  5. Once again, Otto, I feel you are talking directly to me. I have had the creative moments lately and haven’t followed through with the execution. Thank you for that well timed motivation.
    Tell us a bit about the shot. I love it.

    1. The photo was taken quite some time ago in the old part of Havana – Habana vieja. The oldtimer was left there and had no better use than being a toy for the kids. I came upon the car and the kids during one of my many strolls in Havana.

  6. Great post! I always think of this process as a right foot/ left foot (or perhaps more accurately a right brain/left brain) process. You can get where you are going hopping on one foot but you can get there a lot faster using both. 🙂

      1. Me too! Otto, I just dissected my creative process for composing music in “What Lies Beneath” – you might enjoy it and it is closely related to what you are discussing in this post.

  7. Going to go and digest this about creation and execution…takes awhile before it sinks in and the light goes on. Thanks Otto! Love the photo!

  8. I just love the photo, Otto. I think those little guys were practicing their own creativity. One thing you do with your encouragement to get out there and just create, to DO it, is you remind me that we all have it in us. To build upon your thought about it being a spiritual practice, it also isn’t blasphemy to acknowledge that all talent isn’t equally metered out, and some of us aren’t going to make a big impression on others with our gifts! Nonetheless, we can enjoy the process and development and it’s for our own soul’s nourishment. I love your positivity and encouragement, Otto. I really do! Debra

  9. I’m not much with the creative process. I just love words and images, and was lured in by your joyful photo. Had to stay to absorb the content. Thank you Otto.

  10. Great find Otto. I’m just saying that if my parents had caught me jumping on the family car, they would have taught me the meaning of creativity!

  11. I’m a little late bit find it interesting. You are correct, to be creative you need to act. As photographers you can be creative when you take the photo, like using an unusual point of view. Or you can just take a “no special” photo and be creative with unusual postprocessing. Or editing and sequencing photos in a special way. But you have to do it, to work on it. And when you work on something important to you, from idea a new idea can born and this enhance the possibilities of a creative action. Important is to act, to work! Thanks for this reminder, Otto.
    PS: now back to work, trying a creative editing from the shots of my Prague visit 🙂

  12. Great picture ! This one is one of my favorites in your blog. And I like the way explained the whole process of creation and execution. Both are some how directly proportional to each other. With out the creation part, the final product can never the best one, does not matter how much effort we put in to the execution part and vice versa. Great post Otto.

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