Creativity. What If We're Doing It Wrong?

Some thoughts from a non-creative creative on creativity.

Creativity isn’t Decoration defines creativity as “Having the quality or power of creating,” a further definition is “originative; productive.” The Wikipedia entry goes further to add that creativity results in the creation of something of value.

True creativity creates, it doesn’t decorate.

The more creative someone is — by the very definition of the word — the higher their potential *should be* to create. There’s a certain objectivity to this that find missing from the common understanding of creativity. “Creatives” are often enough the worst at getting shit done, stumbling over the need for “inspiration” crafting meaningless and intrinsically valueless things to look pretty. Decorating.


The need to consume inspiration in order to create is a modern one. For a large portion of Western Culture’s existence, creation was understood as a process of discovering both existing and new connections. Creating was unearthing potential or truth that was always there.

Creativity Isn’t Novelty

There is a difference, and although subtle, confusing novelty with creativity undermines the real potential of creativity. At its best, Novelty has the ability to amuse, capture our attention, appeal to our desire for “new things.”

Creativity can be novel, and vice versa. But equating the “creative value” of anything to its novelty is wrong.

Be careful not to deride someone’s creative contributions simply because they’re not “first ever” or have "been done". An electric car isn’t a novel idea. But Tesla is an incredibly creative and (dare we say) novel company.

Creativity Isn’t An Industry

We denigrate creativity through narrow associations. What Exactly is the creative industry anyway? One where grown people draw? Making things that are pretty?

What’s a non-creative industry?

People who disrupt and shape industries outside of the “creative industry” are creative. Even if they can’t draw for shit. Or work photoshop, or write children’s books.

Creativity Isn’t A Look

Stop giving people bonus creative credits because they wear ripped jeans, ironic Hawaiian T-shirts with Aviators and hand-decorated Converse “One Stars.”

You don't wear creativity, you work it.

Creative Isn’t a Layout

This one is for you marketing and advertising execs. When you call the output of whatever your “creative team” has been working on “The Creative” you’re sucker punching yourselves.

Product at Canva. Creative heart, curious soul, connective mind. Past lives in Advertising, Digital, Insurance and Christianity. Adoption advocate. Beer. ADHD.