THE CREATIVE COMPULSION
images and text by RARE PROGENY
I was asked, what is the spark that makes a person pick up a pen or a spatula or mouse – whatever, and create something. Could I pinpoint what triggers that desire to create something and what mechanism, internal or external keeps it going? It was a question that has stuck in my mind for the past few weeks. When I put it in terms of my own creative urges I see how complex a question it is.
I think much of it has to do with the realization that one truly is creative. The moment you pick up a pencil or crayon and with intent set to drawing something specific – that is the moment you realize your creativity.
Now, a step back in time.
The moment was in my childhood perhaps when I was six. I remember my obsession was with a tablet of colored construction paper. Once my desire was fulfilled (thanks Mom) I drew the front elevation of each house in the neighborhood. One per sheet of paper. Lost long ago, that was my first concept book!
Of course I put it in terms of “concept” now but I can recall the drive I felt back then to document the different styles as I recalled them – I did the drawings from memory. And, as with everything I have ever created, there were reactions to my creations!
Good reactions. Questionable reactions. Objectionable reactions.
Chain reactions. When I was a kid, good reactions to my creativity were OK and led to other attempts. Creativity was my distinction.
Back to the present and the question. For me the creative spark is firing constantly. It could lead to madness if only because there is not nearly enough time in one life to turn all the ideas into reality. Only the ones that yield the most promise rise to the surface as viable and upon which a creative life may be built.
But what triggers the spark?
For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the inspiration I get from nature. Whenever I am in nature I see composition. Whether I am in a national park or the city park near my home, the sight of trees sparks my creativity. Oceans, the sky and volcanoes are also triggers for my creativity. I find architecture and bridges not only awe inspiring but also a springboard for creativity. And people. Faces. Bodies. Beauty. Strangeness.
Whenever I take it upon myself to draw or otherwise depict someone or something I always start out by telling myself I am not out to best nature. Many times I do not take on natural subjects because I do not see the point of recreating what nature has already perfected. The desire to simply create becomes the desire to create one’s own unique statement in one’s own style.
It often becomes a matter of abstraction and distillation. Or a desire to experiment with a certain technique or creative material. There are artistic supplies I find fascinating and materials I find compelling. Fascinating and compelling to the point at which I must attempt to create something.
Among the fascinating materials are thick paints and watercolors, paper, clay, stone, pencils, pens and ICING! Of course computers, cameras and scanners are essential tools and they do inspire, in me a certain type of creativity. In any case, it becomes a matter of discipline to master any tool or material or technique and this in and of itself can be a trigger to create.
Perhaps the spark of creativity stems from a desire to break free of the mudane, everyday world. Once a person realizes he or she has the potential to be creative and discovers the entrance to that world it is a matter of will to embrace that and see where it leads. Maybe it is a god complex in which one must re-create the world in one’s own image.
As I said, my creative spark is constantly firing. I see inspiration everywhere. Too much. I start to filter what I see and determine I will only look at things objectively for now.
The creative spark can be doused just as easily as it ignites. I can ignore my creative impulses in favor of chores or socializing or even what I may consider “real work.” Creativity and the desire to create must be nurtured or all is lost. I think it is interesting to see how easily creativity can be “turned off.” The creative spark may fire and the ideas may flow, but without the intent to begin and the determination to see it through, there will be no creative output.
Finally, there is the creative energy that is fueled by a desire to simply create something of beauty that is worthy to be called art. This has been a motivating factor for me throughout my artistic life and has certainly been a factor in my professional life as an art director and designer.
I consider myself fortunate to have been able to incorporate my artistic skills into my professional career. Even now, three decades into my career, my drawing skills add great value to my day to day duties and I am routinely called upon to draw.
This has given me an appreciation for my own talents and I do not take those for granted. I know the creative spark must be seized upon because it is transitory and great ideas can easily be forgotten. An artist must have the desire as well as a method to capture those ideas for future use, whether a sketchbook or voice recorder.
An idea may come to me over and over again, like a recurring dream. At some point, if the idea holds up it will be documented as a sketch or a note and only through will and determination will it ever become art. I do not lament the ideas and concepts I forget or disregard. As long as my eyes are open and I remain observant I will benefit from inspiration I find everywhere. The creative spark will ignite and art will occur.