The Observer interviews various leaders in their field about what creativity is, their creative processes and inspirations. Some heroes of mine in there:

J.G. Ballard

“If you’ve got a strong imagination it’s there all the time, it’s working away. You’re kind of remaking the world as you walk down a street, sort of reinventing it. I have a walk every day and a good think about things. I sometimes think maybe this town is a complete conspiracy, or maybe it’s a very advanced kind of psychological experiment – all these ideas occur to me and every now and again I think: ‘Hey, that’s not bad. That’s worth pursuing.'”

Jan Kaplicky

“Architecture is generally presented by one name, but it’s a fantasy and very 19th-century to claim it is a one-man product. A lot depends on the people you have around you and how good they are.”

Peter Saville

“Ideas never come out how you first imagined them – something else happens along the way, and if you’re lucky it turns out better. For me the process of thinking about things goes on all the time. I’m very often quite happy to sit down and watch some football, or pornography, late at night, in order to avoid thinking about things, to avoid reading another interesting magazine or journal or a new book.”

Some good quotes in the intro to the interviews by Guy Claxton, a psychologist:

“Essentially, creativity is all about learning to listen to the unconscious and being able to cultivate that relaxed and alert time that is typical of meditation and dreaming. Very creative people may be able to do this intuitively, but it is important to realise that we were all born with creative minds.”

This is great. I can’t stand it when people maintain that “creativity”, especially in the field of design, is some special exclusive right of those in the mysterious turtle-necked/expensive-vintage-t-shirt caste, and any idea originated outside of “the design team” is automatically to be discounted.

To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke again, creativity isn’t magic, it’s just indistinguishable sufficently-advanced thinking; and anyone can do that.

» Observer Magazine: “Here is the muse”

  1. nick sweeney said:

    Interesting that you quoted a different piece of the Ballard interview. The thing that struck me the most was these lines: “I think the enemy of creativity in the world today is that so much thinking is done for you. The environment is so full of television, party political broadcasts and advertising campaigns, you hardly need to do anything. We’re just drowning under manufactured fiction, which satisfies our need for fiction – you scarcely need to go and read a novel.”

    Combine that with the reading of the introduction to ‘Crash’ on R4 last night, and I’m convinced it’s time to take a long vacation from the Web. Too much material to process, not enough space to think.

  2. paulpod said:

    Creativity is certainly an undefineable moment (not, i’d like to point out, a process as so many of my peers seem happy to put it). In my “zen:art:motorcycle” moments, there is something special that happens, that allows you to tap into bite sized chunks of thoughts “bigger than your head”. These moments are rare, and I fear that many creatives confuse these real moments for self-sythesised ones – which is fair I suppose, considering that if you are getting paid day in, day out to be creative the pressure is on to be “inspired” more than once in a while.

    Truth is, it happens a lot less often than we’d like, and the importance in recognising them is huge. Fail to notice and act is shameful.

    I’m not a religious person, but theres definitely something out there that sparks real creativity – I’ve always felt it and I’m sure I’m not alone. Anyone else? Or am I just nuts?

  3. matt locke said:

    Creativity is such a buzzword, but the Observer article really rang true. My bugbear is the selling of creativity as a process that can be managed and replicated at will. Organisational creativity isn’t something that can be ‘improved’ by funky workshops or consultants – it happens all the time, all over every organisation, and often in the most inaccessible places. If an organisation wants to be more creative, then it needs to learn how to capture all the lightbulbs that are going off in every office, every day – not think that 2 awaydays a year makes them more ‘creative’. But then, its a lot easier to hire a consultant than listen to your staff…


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