What is Creativity?

Two weeks ago we began using insights from our creativity wall to develop a definition of this slippery concept. We were inspired by Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity, and our own observations and experiences over the course of this quarter. Here is the working definition we came up with —

Creativity is a functional awareness of the subconscious and the willingness to raise it to consciousness, the ability to think intuitively and act concretely.

It exists simultaneously in opposition to and in cooperation with the existence of culture.

Creativity is translative.
Creativity is inevitable.
Creativity is human.

I. There are no rules to creativity.
II. Creativity happens at all stages of the process.
III. The Process has two stages.

A. Subconscious

    1.  Look & See

        Observe the world around you. You can’t change something if you‘re not aware of it.

     2. Touch & Feel

        Experience. Discover. Engage. Live.

B. Conscious

    3.  Push & Pull

        Define boundaries, then break them or ignore them. Explore the unknown.

     4. Think & Do

        Be brave. Be confident. Be fearless. Be active.

    5.  . . . & Enjoy

        Laugh. Revel in the act of creation for its own sake.

After giving it a week of breathing room, we revisited our definition to further clarify and define its meaning. Here is our final version —

Creativity is the ability to think intuitively and act concretely. It emerges from conscious awareness of the subconscious process, from observation and incubation.

Creativity exists in balanced tension with culture, simultaneously antagonizing and cooperating with existing norms and structures.

Creativity is translative.
Creativity is fluid.
Creativity is human.

I. There are no rules to creativity.
II. Creativity exists on two levels.
III. Creativity can be described categorically in five ways.

A. Subconscious

    1.  Look & See

         Observe the world around you. You can’t change something if you‘re not aware of it.

     2. Touch & Feel

        Experience. Discover. Engage. Live.

B. Conscious

    3.  Push & Pull

        Define boundaries, then break them or ignore them. Explore the unknown.

     4. Think & Do

        Be brave. Be confident. Be fearless. Be active.

    5.  . . . & Enjoy

        Laugh. Revel in the act of creation for its own sake.

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Pop up

In order to expand our already forming definitions of and perspectives on creativity, the class wanted to conduct a pop-up event. This event would be spontaneous and it would serve to stimulate creativity. It would take place in Paris, as we were traveling there in the coming week.

Before leaving for Paris and conducting the pop-up event, we had to meet in order to plan the event. The class gathered at the Café de France, a local bar and eatery with an amazing view of the valley – not a bad place to brainstorm.

The initial idea for the event was to hang a large piece of butcher paper in a public space with a prompt across the top. The prompt would be a question or idea and would encourage people to draw and write on the paper. After placing the paper, the class would disappear into the crowd and observe the interaction.

After some debate about materials, weather and feasibility, a new direction was taken. Some class members had already been working with speech bubbles, blank pieces of paper in the shape of speech bubbles or brackets. It was decided that the pop-up event would use the speech bubbles as well.

The initial idea was that, the class would take the speech bubbles to a public place such as the Eiffel Tower or a train station. Class members would begin by writing short snippets in the speech bubbles, photographing each other in front of their inspiration. For example, someone would take a picture holding the Eiffel Tower in their hand and write, “I have big muscles.” The hope was that as people watched, they would want to get involved, write their own speech bubbles and allow us to take pictures of them with their creation.

With this plan, the class boarded a train with 70 speech bubbles ready to pop-up in Paris.

The first event took place at the Palace of Versailles. As a group of us were waiting in a very long line to enter the Palace we realized that thus would be a great opportunity for the pop up event. Below are a few of our favorites.

The pop up event started by the group of us starting to fill out the word bubbles inspired by the surrounding of Versailles.

Our new German friend, that was behind us in line, was intrigued by the word bubbles as we explained the project to her.
We asked her if she would like to fill one out. She was very intrested in trying out her dutch. “Wat kost dot?”
“How much for this (Palace of Versailles)?

As we were waiting we noticed acts of creativity happening around us, whether it be style, interactions or even planking. As we witnessed these acts we tried to engage with them to see if they were interested in participating in the event. Most were a little confused at first but then were enthused.

We found that some people could not think of anything to write and pulled inspiration from their normal influences not being present.

Overall this first pop up was a success and very entertaining for both the people involved and the bystanders. This also passed the time quickly and more people were willing to participate because they were either bored or just waiting idly.

Put a Speech Bubble on it!

Bonjour, we’re back! After an amazing week in Paris we have so much to share with you. The week was filled with immersing ourselves in the city through site seeing, unexpected adventures, meeting new people, and last but not least food! Needless to say, we all left with happy stomachs and great memories. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea.”

However, it wasn’t all fun and games. Before we left we thought about different possible approaches for our Creativity Probe. We knew that all the students would be super busy with daily trips as well as personal exploration of the city so it had to be something that would be fun and easy to do while they were out. And, since the students would be out the majority of the time we wanted it to be an activity that would engage them with their surroundings.

The Creative Probe we developed was inspired by the Speech Bubble Project. Throughout the quarter our class has been adding pictures of what we find inspiring or creative onto our Creativity Wall under the five categories: look and see, touch and feel, push and pull, think and do, and enjoy. So for this activity we wanted to see what the students would put under each category and caption it with a speech bubble. The day before we left on our trip we posted our own speech bubbles that we wrote around the cafeteria to get everyone interested and wondering what it was about.

 

 

As for our kits they included speech bubbles of various sizes, instructions, and a list with descriptions of the five categories. These were passed out on the train ride to Paris.

 

The breakdown in our plan was that the students were having so much fun in Paris that they weren’t thinking about our Creativity Probe. Most of the students also had to complete sketchbooks for their other classes as well, so doing this activity wasn’t a priority. We also felt that they may be getting tired of us asking them to do something every week. It’s possible we would have been more successful during a different week when everyone wasn’t so busy with school work and preoccupied with Paris (totally understandable, it’s Paris after all). However, that didn’t stop us from having fun with it ourselves!

Napkin Sketch Paris

In preparation for Paris, we created two sets of napkin sketch packets. One was passed out Tuesday morning at breakfast and intended to be collected on Friday morning; the other was passed out on Friday morning and was intended to be collected back in Lacoste at Sunday brunch.

This was an optimistic plan.

After all, WE WERE IN PARIS!

Distribution of the packets went smoothly, but collection was sporadic. Less than ten packets were returned to us while in Paris, and only one was submitted once we returned to Lacoste. Despite the low response rate, we received some fantastic submissions.

 “The Potato of Paris”

“KILL French people”

“Go away Pablo. I’m eating.”

 

Overall enthusiasm for the napkin sketch workshops seems to have lagged, so we are going to discontinue them. In their lieu, we will plan another style of workshop to share with the SCAD Lacoste community.