Hello, dear readers! It's Dr. H here with you and today I'm delving into my personal experiences in the art world, to bring you some key lessons I've learned about creativity. If you don't already know, creativity is our Q2 intention (if you missed our explanation, you can find it here). Though Dr. Donnelly and I are both keen to broaden discussions of creativity outside the normal bounds of the art world, hopefully making it more accessible in the process, art and artists are still a huge part of how our society understands creativity.
Over the past 4 years, I have had the pleasure of participating in an artists residency project located on an uninhabited island of the west coast of Ireland. My maternal great-grandfather was born on Inishlacken, which is how I found the Inishlacken Project, run by Belfast-born artist Rosie McGurran. My mother and I visited Roundstone (the coastal village near the island) over the past four summers, and spent considerable time on the island, interacting with the artists at work, talking to them about their processes and philosophies.
It is from these experiences that I've devised 5 lessons about creativity that I feel can be broadly applied, whether you're working on a painting or an office project.
If there is one thing I have learned from spending time with a host of visual artists - writers, film makers, performance artists, painters, print makers, musicians, etc. - it is that each person has their own creative process. There is no cookie cutter method to creating, each artist I interact with has their own way to be creative, to make something new. Whether you're solving a household problem or creating a new marketing campaign, remember, everyone has their own process. As leaders, we can recognize that process and give them the space to work.
Spend enough time with artists and you realize that patience is a necessary part of creativity. The residency lasts a week, and for some of my friends, they would spend the whole week on one project, or try and get through as many as possible. Each one required patience and adaptability. If you plan to paint outdoors for a whole day and it rains (as it often does in Ireland), you have to stay patient and adapt your plan. Creativity is not something that can be rushed (unless that is a person's process) and having patience is necessary to ensure a complete process.
This may seem a rather obvious part of creativity, but any time we create something we have to be willing to experiment, either with the method or outcome. Once you start a new creative project, it rarely, if ever, goes according to plans. What I've learned from my artist friends is an openness to accept that the project will change as you move through it. The idea you originally had may not prove feasible or desirable. By being willing to experiment throughout the process, you can adjust to any unexpected changes or challenges.
Creativity is a risk, it takes a certain level of bravery (see what I did there?) to make something new. Starting something new always comes with the potential of failure, but it is a reality that I watched my friends welcome throughout their creative process. Part of this is tied to their willingness to experiment, because in that they accepted the possibility that their experiment would fail. Each failure turns into a lesson on how to improve the creative process, or how to achieve your desired outcome. Creativity takes risks, and risks can lead to failure, but it's all part of the process.
Perseverance is really the culmination of the four previous characteristics. When undertaking any new project, perseverance is necessary to reach completion. When you encounter obstacles that require you to change your process, experiment, and risk failure, you have to keep working to ensure you finish the job. Working on an uninhabited, craggy, boggy, exposed island presents many obstacles, and I have witnessed my friends persevere through small and large challenges over the years (mostly related to weather).
By sticking to their process, staying patient, experimenting and adapting, and being willing to fail, I have witnessed some truly magical creative projects. While we may not all be artists at heart, we all have to be creative through our working and personal lives, and there are many lessons we can learn from those who spend their days as working artists.
I hope you've learned from an enjoyed these lessons. What are the key lessons you have learned from being creative? Comment below - I'd love to hear from you!