Lately I’ve been wondering how to define “creativity”. Is it pure originality? Pure novelty, and invention? If it were, I’m not sure whom I could call creative. It is so hard sometimes to be entirely original. Everyone desires on some level to do something and be something different from everyone else. To make a mark on the world in a way that no one else has. There are always worries at colleges about plaigarism and lack of inventive thought. We as human beings long for something new that stretches our imaginations. Something we didn’t think of before, or that takes something we had thought of and rearranges it in a new, exciting way.
I want to be creative. I call myself a creative-type person, but I am not Van Gogh, Edison or Einstein. I don’t rank among those that I deem truly creative with theories and paintbrushes, with ballet shoes and pens. I do not think of myself as really inventive in that sense. Most of the time creative people may suffer from feeling that they are able only to do mimcry- to mimic the greatness of others. In truth, every creative person engages in mimicry, for if God is the source of creativity and the very definition of all that is “creative”, then as artists we mimic His greatness. Is this really a bad thing?
God is the Creator. He made all. He is more imaginative than any human being. We cannot improve upon His greatness. Yet He has given us the gift to be creative. The greatest thing about creativity is not whether someone has done it before, necessarily, or whether we are the only people capable of doing something. It is not about mimicry. Perhaps it is that creativity makes something meaningful. Not necessarily useful in the more natural sense, but something with purpose. The artistic means is one of the greatest for moving men’s souls. If we spent all our time worrying about whether our idea was “new”, we might miss the mark of creativity entirely.
Yes, we should seek to be imaginative, and innovative thinkers, especially if God has given us the opportunity to be especially creatively-inclined, or “opportunistic” thinkers. We should brave trails, make, do and be positively progressive. But we should not become so consumned with being original that we cease to seek to make something meaningful. I think this is the malady of some (though not all) modern art. Creativity does not exist solely to break rules of tradition. It moves men’s hearts. It has power and potent potential.
Never underestimate the power of other’s ideas in your inspiration within the creative process. It is a fool who ignores the creativity of every other person in the name of seeking “originality”. Understanding the value of other’s artistic achievements is vital.
“The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.” – Charles Spurgeon
Make something meaningful and you will help to retain a sense of quality in art. You will still invent, dream and do: but you will do it better than before, because by embracing a broader understanding of what it means to create, you may also get a glimpse at what it means to be created. You were created by a purpose by the Creator. Art, though its definition has grown diluted in our postmodernity, is at heart all about meaning. When you begin to see the meaning within it, you will begin to see the Creator behind it, and maybe even get to know Him better. Which is what all art should really do: show us a greater picture of the greatest picture-maker the world has ever known.