There is great value in pushing yourself creatively. I believe that no one is excluded from being creative. Creativity is not solely reserved for Artists. If you’ve ever had an idea, had to figure out how to bring it to life and then brought it to life – you are a creator. If you’ve ever had to problem solve, you are creative. Merriam-Webster lists “Marked by the ability or power to create: given to creating” as one of the definitions for creative and “To bring into existence. To invest with a new form, office or rank” as a few of the definitions for create. I wish to point out that no matter who you are or what you do, you are a creative being.
Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk of “lacking creativity” or “muse”. I’ve been there and I totally understand what you are feeling. What I can tell you, from having lived a life full of art and creativity, is that you have to exercise it otherwise it goes away; but not forever. Creativity is like training for a race, competition or any other fitness goal you might have. You have to do specific exercises tailored for what you are doing and if you stop doing those exercises and shift gears in your workout, you’ll start to lose your progress in that area. For example, I’ve run multiple 5ks in my life but I have to train for them. When I stop training for a 5k, it becomes a big challenge for me to run all 5 of those kilometers. It doesn’t mean that if I stop training I won’t be able to ever run again, it just means that I will need to pick my training back up and in the beginning it might be really hard to get to where I left off. Creativity is the same. When I created my very first composite image in 2017 after YEARS of doing heavy Photoshop work I was proud that I could finish an image but I noticed how hard it was for me to come up with concepts for my work. It took me a full month to create an image from start to finish – sometimes more. I knew that my creative muscle in this arena had weakened over time and I just needed to keep exercising it – so I did. It was imperative to keep creating no matter what – no matter how terrible, how un-inspired or how un-creative I felt.
I knew that in time, it would become easier to create. In time, the concepts would just come to me like a flash of light. But, what if, one day I found my inspiration had dried up? What would I do then?
This is where my tangent comes full-circle. You have to challenge yourself. A couple of months ago, I had purchased a styrofoam skull from Michaels. I had a veeeery vague idea of what to do with it so I just placed her in my closet. One morning, I really wanted to create so I forced myself to be challenged. I looked at that skull (named Skully BTW) and said to myself, “What can you do with this prop?” then I had one idea which prompted me to challenge myself to the following, “How many concepts can I create TODAY with this skeleton head? Aaaaaaand GO!”
The next few hours were filled with idea after idea after idea. I photographed 3 concepts that day: “Mrs. Death Waits for No One”, “No Escaping Mrs. Death” and a third concept that I need to edit. But my creativity didn’t stop there – I wanted MORE. I wanted to see what character I could develop Mrs. Death to be. Could I create a series from her? What would Mrs. Death’s story be and what would her personality be like? So, with Skully and her outfit in tow to every photoshoot I did (just in case an idea came to mind) I began to create.
You see, a creative challenge like taking an object and forcing yourself to create can spiral into something much bigger than you ever expected or it can help you fine-tune your skills. Perhaps a skeleton head is not your jam but you can move onto the next object until something beyond your wildest dreams is born.