Be Creative By Going Beyond Tradition

I wrote this one page article in 2001 and spent the morning today revising the syntax (proof that I’m a different writer now). I also added two books to my list of recommendations to get creative, be creative, and maintaining your creativity. If you know of any good books not on my list, please share.

Have you ever considered the possibility that as you’ve matured you may have become less creative than when you were younger? That isn’t good news if you make a living creating. Consider how I had taken a Creativity test in high school that catalogued me in a high percentile. I assumed that I would stay there because I was regularly drawing and engrossed in many aspects of art. I never thought I could lose my creativeness. However, another test taken almost fifteen years later showed that my score had fallen by almost thirty percent. Had I become less creative than when I was a teenager? It appeared so, but how?

Creativity is the ability to tap past experiences and come up with something new, whether it is new to the person or the entire world. By that definition, we should continuously become more creative as we get older. Unfortunately, we don’t. We become controlled artists, willing to let others pave the way and then follow the leaders. Some of us are afraid of being the creative geniuses with new ideas about art, and so we make our living as artists in their shadows, not being inventive, not taking expression to a higher level, not being original, and unwilling to break the rules lest we sever the safety net beneath us.

But I believe we should always be changing, always experimenting with our art. After all, artists today have tools that never existed. We no longer need to make the same salable art repeatedly like automatons. We’re humans with fantastic minds. Why would we want to stifle that?

If I’ve sparked a creative urge inside, here is a list of my 3 favorite books along with some others to help rejuvenate your creative mind.

  • Edwards, Betty. Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1979. “The classic art book in the field of whole-brain education.”
  • Gelb, Michael J. How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Seven Steps To Genius Every Day. New York: Delacorte Press, 1998. “The ultimate self-help book. This is one of my absolute favorites because it deals with more than art.”
  • Maisel, Eric. Fearless Creating. A Step-By-Step Guide To Starting And Completing Your Work Of Art. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1995. “A truly motivating book.”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Leland, Nita. The Creative Artist. Cincinnati: North Light Books, 1990. The New Creative Artist. New York: F+W Media, Inc.; Revised edition 2006. “Fun activities to exercise your creative muscle.”

After you have found and read these books, try using these following 5 steps to regain some creativity in your next art project.

  1. Be expressive, spontaneous and free. Skills, originality and quality are unimportant.
  2. Be inventive. Look at various things possible. Show ingenuity with materials, techniques and methods.
  3. Be innovated. Modify the basic assumptions of aesthetics (the nature of the artist, the role of the art, and the relationship between the viewer and the work of art). An understanding of the principles of art leads to new ideas and methods of working.
  4. Be productive and non-judgmental.
  5. Be emergentive. Discover uniqueness by going far beyond tradition.

Do not let old habits or society alter your course as you pursue the journey of rethinking and rebuilding your creativity. Perceive the thrill of creating something distinct and feel a degree of mastery of your environment by going beyond tradition.

2 thoughts on “Be Creative By Going Beyond Tradition

  1. Wonderful post, Steven, many thanks. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for some of those resources. “Spontaneity” and “not being judgmental” really jumped out at me from your list. I was rigid and judgmental about my work for a long time– and boy, does that attitude hold you back. Very thoughtful commentary, and very well expressed. Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Steve Campbell

      Being judgmental was very true for me when I tried to be like other artists and copy their style. This became more evident when I began writing. All artists, whether they are visual artists or authors, have their own, unique voice. And therein lies their creativity.

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