Funny thing being ‘creative’.
First signs usually surface in the form of remarks from a visiting Aunt, including such favourites as, “Wow. I think she’s got art in her.” and “Look how creative she is.” Without fail followed by, “I can’t even draw a straight line.”
Never quite understood how straight lines lead to great creativity, Picasso did okay with his curves, but that’s not the point.
Aunt’s remarks aside, this talent begins in a completely childish state, unadulterated by objective or measurement. It’s pure and raw and essential. It’s that child trying to get that message out. With whatever is at her disposal. Wax crayon. Apple juice. Whatever.
It’s effortless and unscripted. The best art the child will likely create. Sadly.
For what comes next is the bitter-sweet companion to creativity:
The critique. The appraisal.
Inseparable, art is the object, criticism the shadow; self righteously giving the work form, value and above all, purpose.
Wait, let’s pause to consider that.
Does it? Should it?
At this stage I really do want that bright eyed child to look up from her drawing and say,
“Aunt Mary, I appreciate your interest in my drawing, but, I really don’t give a shit what you think.”
Then her talent will be preserved and her creativity will grow with her.
But the script doesn’t go like that.
She looks up and says “Oh. Thank you.”
But it’s what she thinks that matters. Somewhere in her head, Pavlov’s Dog barks, a response mechanism is born, where after each reveal there’s an appraisal.
And after each appraisal, there’s a self-appraisal.
Why didn’t Aunt react as well as picture one?
Was it the aeroplane with the enlarged windows that caused the response, or the presence of family in the Dinosaur landscape? Maybe I should include more modern animals?
I’m not as good as I was at 4 and a half.
Am I losing my edge?
Cut to being 8. Cut to being 18. Cut to being 28.
All that time leaving its scars.
Child stars lose their shine from being watched too closely.
It’s a tough gig. I suspect a large proportion of extremely talented people pack away their talents early for this reason.
But the rest continue bravely. Cautiously. Into photography. Writing. Design. Music. Acting. Even Advertising [sic].
And this Pavlovian mechanism of reveal / appraisal continues with them.
The stakes getting higher as the commercial interest increases.
This isn’t art. This is the business of creativity. And sorry, it’s just business.
Stop. Rewind. Go back to being 4 and a half.
Your work is your work. What they think shouldn’t affect what you put down on the page.
Only you should. If you’re thinking Dinosaurs, go full on Dinosaurs.
How they react, well, they’re going to react. That’s the deal. That’s the Creativity / Commentary companionship combo I mentioned earlier. It is what it is. It’s going to happen anyway.
Just don’t dilute the Dinosaurs because of it.