Can you be truly “creative” if you don’t make mistakes? Who decides on how creative you are, or if you are even creative at all? Is being creative a state of mind or is it displaying things in exhibitions and galleries for all to see?
As someone who has struggled with being a perfectionist, I often argue with myself about not doing things right vs chilling out and accepting my “faults”. I’m not quite sure where this comes from. Whether it’s my upbringing from parents; my education; my “catholic guilt syndrome”; or just my own in-built conflict.
Cause and effect
I remember being in school and drawing a lot of Christmas cards for my friends in class, at one point, I was even drawing cards for other classes. They were all entered into the annual Christmas Card competition and a card would always win which had an element drawn by me in it, yet I never won. In my last year of school I did receive a certificate saying “Highly Commended” which (to this day) still leaves me asking the question “…was it pity for all the drawings I did” or “…was it a because they noticed something looked the same on all the cards”?? Either way the result was my card just wasn’t good (or “creative”) enough, right? These experiences took me down the path to attempt at being “perfect”. I.e. not taking risks. But being creative must be the opposite.
As a “creative”, I think your mind should be free. Light. Expressive. Colourful. Have no fear of taking risks. But even though I have quite a surreal imagination, and pretty much visualise and mashup conversations all the time, I don’t consider myself as “that creative”. Maybe it’s because society says “your portfolio doesn’t stand up to the quality of this person” or “you’re work is not critically acclaimed by someone at the national galley”. Or some people don’t hold the same value or you work and therefore doesn’t put a monetary value to it (does that make it less creative.)
Embrace your mistakes
Over the last few years I’ve actually gone out of my way to do things out of my comfort zone and break away from this quest of being perfect, which to me, can suffocate my creativity. I like to experiment… So, if I’m experimenting… this means I have to mistakes… and ultimately take RISKS.
Everyone has different measurement of risk, but for me I started doing small things like drawing in pen so I couldn’t rub out. Surprisingly I didn’t get agitated or angry over an ill placed pen stroke, I just covered up the mistake using cross hatching or by over the correct line with more pen pressure. Without realising it, I was creating a solution to a problem without much thought at all. Some people say “thinking outside the box” or “blue sky thinking“, but ultimately its called “being creative” and finding a solution to a problem!!!
When creativity turns into perfection
Being creative isn’t new (but it is “thinking new”) but it’s something you care about then embracing it to find a “new way”, improving you and others around you. In this TEDx talk, How to get better at the things you care about, Eduardo Briceño describes how Beyoncé reviews her performances each night and works to make them better.
But at what point does an idea… stop being “new” or creative and turn into perfection?
Beauty (or mistakes) are in the eyes of the beholder
The glorious web is littered in artists who have made a creative career by accident!