The Two Faces of Creativity

The creative process often seems to have much in common with a spiritual experience in that the artist often 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, a lot 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. Besides, I hope you keep enjoying the summer (or winter—if you are situated in the southern hemisphere).


50 thoughts on “The Two Faces of Creativity

  1. Helpful words yet again. Sometimes creativity, comes from the act of creating. Maybe an “Ah-Ha” moment when you least expect it.

  2. Spot on Otto! This is my paralysis of creating – ideas I have, getting past the feeling of “not good enough” and actually getting it done is the hard part…… Thank you for an excellent article (yet again!!!)!!!!

  3. it is true that creativity does not come by itself. I had to practice day and night and I am still not creative but I am better now than before. But it is also true that some people do have the talent?

    1. A difficult question. There might be something that we can call talent, but I believe we can all find it if we do something we love. Talent – or lack of such – certainly isn’t a limitation. More important is doing the work and keep creating – whatever we are doing.

  4. A very inspiring text, Otto. Creativity is a process, not just random and I find having fun during this process is essential for me coming up with (original) ideas that have value, that I can stretch further. Social media can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it works like a brake or – like a smart motor. 🙂

  5. What a fantastic photo, Otto. You really captured not just the movement but the fun! I do see the difference between creativity and creation. I can lose myself in landscape gardening. Dozens of labor hours each week create a pleasant environment while weeding, pruning, watering and fertilizing. But it’s the many additional hours combining accents and color spots, adding interesting pots and garden art to accent particular views and finding opportunities to inject a little whimsy that take the act of creation into a display of creativity, making a more profound statement. I think when we become really absorbed in what we’re doing creativity is more apt to appear!

    1. Or maybe the other way around, if we do something we enjoy and get fully absorbed doing, we trigger our creative self. Or maybe we are saying the same. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience from the garden, Debra.

  6. I think you touch upon something inside all of us that must be pursued in some form or another, and you do this with your first sentence: “The creative process often seems to have much in common with a spiritual experience.” No matter where or what you do in life, there has to be some spiritual connectedness to life and the ideas in your head. For you, it definitely is photography and writing, with the one shared ingredient that every successful artist has ~ a yearning to learn, learn, learn. Perhaps learning is how we evolve, improve our execution. Wishing you a great day and adventures.

    1. And I think you put emphasize to something that is very important in the creative pursuit; a willingness and eagerness to learn – and keep learning. Thanks a lot for the comment, Randall.

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