I thought I wasn't a creative person, then I learnt we could all be one
Besides all the negatives the pandemic has forced on us, we surely cannot help but notice that this past year and a half has seen a surge in creativity - and we couldn’t be happier about it. In fact, in absence of physical events, artists and those working in the creative industry had to find new ways to make art available from home. Starting from the groundbreaking Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert, some have experimented with virtual clubbing, while digital art has seen a huge success. Now, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are for the first time enabling high profits from the sale of digital art, and that is revolutionary. As a result, actual NFT-based artwork marketplaces have been put in place, like this one or this one.
Most importantly, not only has everyone in the creative industry had to adapt and find new ways to get things done, but also those whose main occupation is not associated with art and crafts might have at some point felt the need to create something. I myself am not a creative person, but this common experience has given me the opportunity to think about how I was contributing to the community (and if I was somehow). Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the act of creating gives us purpose and contributes to our individual and social well-being.
Then I wondered whether that creativity I thought I was lacking could be somehow acquired.
Many argue that creativity is inherent to every human being. We are born creative, they say, but just some of us remain as such in their adulthood. In fact, creative thinking appears to come easy to some people as opposed to others. This could, on some level, be associated with the environment we grow up and live in through our lifetime, and the education we receive. Obviously, that is something we have very little power on. So, given the different circumstances each of us faces, what is it that really allows us to express creativity in our adulthood?
Illustrated by Giada Maestra
One point where to start could be concentrating on doing what makes us feel good. Especially in western thinking, our self-worth is largely dependent on our productivity and the accumulation of property we collectively define as valuable. In other words, we are taught that being productive in the economy makes us a worthwhile person and that such productivity should materialise into objects in order to obtain external validation.
But, whenever we think about our well-being, our mind often goes to all those activities that require self-expression and allow us to show our personality to the world. That could be cooking, gardening, knitting, sewing, styling new looks, creating pottery with clay (part of the heritage of 2020), but also photographing, painting, drawing and writing. As a matter of fact, research shows that flourishing comes, among other things, from taking on new habits that involve some form of creativity and pursuing our true interests. According to this study, this way we would be able to grasp a sense of satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment.
One could argue that this crisis, despite the increase in creative activity, has left many of us feeling all but flourishing, losing - rather than gaining - engagement with the world.
But, crises also represent opportunities as they can be the start of something: we have been forced to re-evaluate what really matters and what makes us feel good, whether that was out of boredom or anxiety. Plus, we have been more willing to take risks and we have had the opportunity to experiment, to try different things.
As I’ve recently approached creative practices for the first time as an adult (like many others), I came to realise we are so used to looking externally for validation and self-worth, we normally don’t do things just because we feel like it. This is the positive I have managed to drag out of this collective tragedy: the need to adapt to crisis facilitates the emergence of our true nature. As human beings we need to create, and even if we do it for its own sake, it leads to a sense of achievement and pride.
What I want to suggest is that we should take this opportunity to approach art, which is ultimately what helps us the most develop creative thinking. In other words, to be more creative we simply need to actively engage in the creative process and allow ourselves to enjoy it without feeling the pressure of productivity we are becoming so used to.
and also about how artists could be paid in the digital era: https://li.substack.com/p/the-case-for-universal-creative-income