The Big Cultural Mix-Up About Creativity and Art
"I'm not creative." "I'm not an artist."
If you've ever thought or uttered either of these phrases, you're not alone. If you ever said one, but also meant or assumed the other, you're also in good company.
But here's the thing. Creativity and artistry are completely different. Yet somewhere along the way, we started to culturally collapse these two concepts, leaving less room for all of us to think of ourselves as creative.
Case in point. An art student might recreate or copy a masterwork for an assignment to develop artistic skill. It could be the "perfect" artistic replica, but the fact remains that it's not so much a creative endeavor, despite its other values. Creativity refers to "the use of imagination or original ideas" and while it's often thought of in relationship to the arts, creativity can be expressed in any number of situations.
Why does this matter? Because the ways in which we mix up artistic skill and creativity can have broad implications for how we view ourselves and think about our own capacity to solve problems and thrive.
If our self-narrative has become "I'm not creative", that's often a fast track to assuming that we don't have the capacity to figure things out or think for ourselves in a new situation. And if we're defaulting to the idea that we don't have the capacity, then we might actively avoid new situations, which can get us stuck in all kinds of ways.
The other area of confusion is the problematic, but widely held assumption that artistry and creativity are both innate talents. They're not, although human beings as a species are perhaps best defined by our propensity for creative endeavor.
The incredible plasticity of our brains means that we can actually change the way our brains are wired based on our experiences (more on that in another post). In short, we can practice creativity the same way we practice anything else, and rewire the way we think about ourselves in the process.
Yes, for us, the tools for practicing creativity happen to be art materials, which we use specifically and intentionally to support well-being. Classes here pack a double dose of benefit, because stress reduction and emotional intelligence/well-being are also directly connected to increased creativity.
Yet distinguishing between (and more broadly and inclusively defining) "artistry" and "creativity" in our space is essential to keeping our physical, mental, emotional, and creative engines humming. It's our goal to set you up for openness to a new experience, to a new way of thinking about the world, and to new ways of thinking about yourself through the act of creative art-making. And of course, to also feel inspired and calm.