It is easier than ever to accumulate knowledge. What with online learning platforms and the freedom to share on social media, there is no lack of opportunities to learn new skills or get ideas. What we find as a result is an influx of content and a lack of originality. It can be difficult to find artists who use their skills to produce fresh and novel content, exclusive to their way of processing the world. That is, more importance has been placed in the skill itself instead of valuing the output of a creative vision. But for people in all fields, creativity is the most valuable asset we have.
WHAT IS CREATIVITY?
Creativity could be defined as the writer’s voice, a spin on an idea that only you can bring. Or adding value to what you’ve been given, in a way that is unique to you.
According to Stefan Mumaw, creative director and author of multiple books on creativity, creativity does not necessarily equal artistry (painter, writer, photographer, sculptor, etc). But creativity, he says, “is problem-solving with relevance and novelty.”
Similarly, creativity has also been defined as pertaining to a certain level of originality; and the creative act must produce value (Gaut, 2009).
Creativity, then, is equivalent to a wax seal with the writer’s own symbol or lettering, their handwriting on a blank sheet of paper. It is their description of a tree as something more than rough bark and green needles, but as a bristly giant with dropping arms, sagging from the weight of the snow – a description unique to the writer’s perspective and one that excites the imagination of the reader.
THE MARRIAGE OF CREATIVITY AND SKILL
Creativity brings substance to a thing. For example, the strength of a story often rests in the strength of its characters. In order to create a believable character in a story, the writer develops a detailed personality, a variety of traits, physical and emotional, and unique quirks. Characters like Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice, Rosie Betzler from JoJo Rabbit, Sherlock Holmes, and the Kim family from Parasite, keep you engaged because of their nuances, hidden or obvious motivations, flaws and development. A believable character is a rounded character. A character with depth.
When the details about the character are few and vague, the character falls short of the depth required to create believability. This is what we call a ‘flat’ character. The details could be as simple as having a scar or working as a carpenter. Maybe they speak with an Australian accent or maybe the story is about travelling to Europe for the first time. But these details are weak without nuances and quirks, and visible change and development. These details serve a greater purpose of creating a more rounded, deeper understanding of the character.
So it is with creativity and skill. Creating while depending solely on skill can be compared to writing flat characters. When we allow our soul to become part of the project, when we use creativity to bring unique ideas to the table, we create depth that is obvious to all who see and experience what we create.
That being said, this is by no means an argument against the value of skills. Where creativity brings an idea to the table, skill is necessary to bring it to fruition. The skill of showing, not telling, and creating engaging dialogue is necessary to create this unique and well rounded character. Skill is required in order for creative ideas to come to fruition.
Without skill, Creativity is somewhat useless. It’s like daydreaming. Daydreaming is a lovely thing to do. To be caught up in one’s own mind and emotion is so satisfying because for a moment, you are off somewhere, doing something, reveling in a new idea. But it is fleeting and the satisfaction stops there.
In the end, we want to create something that adds value, that lasts. Something that lingers in people’s minds in the form of a question or an image. And it is only through the marriage of skill and creativity – perhaps with creativity always one step ahead – that this is possible.
VOTARY USING CREATIVE STORYTELLING IN THE CORPORATE WORLD
As a production company, some of our biggest clients are corporations. When these companies bring a service or product they want to showcase, it is easy to subscribe our work to basic ads and trivial product reviews. But our goal is to find a unique angle to their story.
By using creativity to tell the story of their product and service, we help to add value in the eyes of customers by showing the depth in the company. And the skill we have as filmmakers allow us to accomplish this work with excellence and to create a greater impact.
Creativity is difficult to teach. But while it is true that some were born with wild imaginations and some think in straight lines and edge, each of us has the ability to create with novelty in our own field of work and influence.
In an interview with MusicBed, director and cinematographer Ryan Booth states that the job of a creative person is “to see the world in a particular way, and then to speak up with what you see.”
What makes the difference is whether we use the skills we’ve accumulated (graphic design, technical writing, photography, or culinary art, to name a few), and add something more to the world than we’ve already seen. We just need to cultivate it.
To cultivate creativity, start with where you are. The experience you have has so much value. Use that experience as your reference: your native language, the country you visited at age 10 and always wanted to get back to, the home environment growing up, or films with a specific shooting style that fascinate you.
Curiosity serves as a tool to cultivate creativity. Booth compares it to a muscle, “something you have to intentionally work out, continually do“.
Consistently saturate yourself with work of creatives, from various genres and lines of work that you hadn’t considered before. And always ask why. Why does this stand out? Why am I drawn to this place? Why did this story impact me so? You will come out with a deeper understanding of your distinct voice and the value you can bring.
IN THE END…
The use of creativity is what brings value and purpose to our own lives. Because it creates depth, it requires that we seek out that depth and be individuals of substance. From that place can our hands sculpt and our mouths sing. In the end, our personal lives are better, richer for it.