In this blog post, we're going to take a look at what creativity is and how it can be developed.
So are you a creative person? How would you answer that question? Some people believe that creativity is innate. It's something that you're born with. It's something that you have to have naturally, and if you're not a creative person there's kind of no hope for you.
But you know what? That simply isn't true. Yes, some people might be born more wired to be creative than other people, but that doesn't mean to say that you can't become a creative person.
Creativity is like a muscle that can be exercised. It's a skill that can be learned, but it is something that you need to invest time and energy in creating and in fostering. The trouble is of course, all of these messages that we tell ourselves go kind of deep inside us and we start to believe that we're really not a creative person. And we go around telling people, no, I'm not a creative person or I'm not creative enough to do that.
But you know what?
The stories that you tell yourself are important!
They actually have an impact on how you see yourself, how you perceive yourself, and actually what you allow yourself to achieve. So stop telling yourself that you're not creative. And I want you to start off with a daily mantra of saying to yourself, I am a creative person.
Most people know that interior designers need to be creative. It's part and parcel of what you need to do when you're a designer, is a skill that you just need to have. But what people sometimes don't realise is that you also need creativity in order to solve problems. And interior design is all about solving problems. In an ideal world, we would all work on buildings that are perfectly square, perfectly straight, where everything lines up, where there's the perfect amount of light coming in.
But of course, that's not the reality of the situation. We work with buildings that are older, buildings that are badly designed, buildings that are North facing, don't have good quality light coming in. There are all sorts of problems and issues that interior designers have to encounter. And one of the things that interior designers have to do is come up with creative approaches to making the space function well as well as to look good aesthetically.
So it's super important, not just from an aesthetic perspective, but also from a practical perspective that interior designers learn how to foster and develop that creative muscle.
So my first tip for helping you to develop your creativity is probably a little bit unusual and not one that you're going to be expecting. My advice to you is... to copy other people!
Yeah, absolutely. I know that that sounds really strange, but this has been done for centuries upon centuries. Now, let's just make it clear here, 'm not talking about stealing other people's ideas and walking all over their copyright. Not at all.
But people have been using other people's work as their foundations or their inspirations for centuries. Take William Shakespeare for example. A lot of his plot lines actually came from other people's stories that he took and that he developed.
We pass stories down the generations and it makes sense that with each new generation that comes, we kind of rehash it. We don't always need to go back and reinvent the wheel.
Creativity sometimes is about tweaking what's already there. It's about looking at what's already there in a new way and presenting it differently.
Pablo Picasso said, good artists copy, great artists steal. And again, he wasn't talking about running rough shoulder over everybody's copyright. He's talking about internalising what other people have done so that it just becomes part of your kind of creative DNA so that you absorb how good design works and that you understand the elements that make it up at a kind of intuitive level.
We teach children how to be creative in school. So when we teach creative writing, for example, we teach the children first off to imitate. So to copy they're meant to take a story and to copy it in their own words and it helps them to internalise the structure. It's the same with an interior design.
So to help yourself develop, try copying someone else. Just for practise of course!
Take a design, copy it and see if you can produce the same result.. You can do it just by creating mood boards or design sketches, whatever you want to, but get to understand how those designs come together.
So once you've imitated the next step is to innovate and that means that you start to swap out different things. So look at that interior design and start playing around with how you could change that.
Could you add in a different type of furniture?
Could you add a different lighting for example?
Could you change the colour scheme up?
So you've taken the original idea, you've had to go at imitating it, copying it, innovating to change it, to tweak it to see how you can play with it. And then the final part of that is to invent and you kind of have to go through that process from imitation to innovation through to inventing. It's a process.
So copying other people is a valid thing to do in order to develop your creativity. As I said, we're not talking about running rough shod over people's copyright. We're talking about educating yourself, looking at other people's creativity and absorbing the ways that they've done things so that you can then innovate from there and so that you can then invent from your own heart, your new designs.
The next thing that you need to do to develop your creativity is to expand your world view. So you need to step outside of your comfort zone and you need to start doing things that quite frankly, just scare you a little.
They don't have to be massively scary things, but you just want to trip yourself out of doing the same humdrum routine things all of the time.
So go and see a play that's not something that you'd normally go and see. Go and watch a movie that's different from something that you'd usually go to see. Visit museums and art galleries of different types and tastes and styles that you wouldn't normally go and look at. You can also learn a new instrument that doesn't have to be an expensive thing to do these days. You can get lots of YouTube videos about how to do that. It challenges different parts of your brain.
Learn a foreign language. It has the same effect. Do some mathematics. All of these things help your brain to create these neural pathways that start exploring new ways of doing things and that begin to help you to develop your creativity and to get better at what you do. All of this helps to expand your worldview.
If you can get out there and travel and experience other cultures. Looking at the world through other people's eyes is a fantastic way to explode your creativity. And if you can try to start to look at your own culture as curious, say, begin to see your own culture through the curiosity of other cultures eyes. We often look at other cultures and think, well, that's strange. Why do they do things like that without really realising that they're looking at us thinking, well, that's strange. Why do they do things like that? When you travel, when you mix with people from other nations and you learn about other cultures, you begin to get a much broader world view and that also helps to trigger and to fire that creativity. All of these influences from different cultures will feed into the way that you view the world and about how you develop your creative approaches.
Another really key thing to do is to hang around with creative people. They say that you are the product of the five closest people to you. You literally absorb the ideas and the opinions and the world views of the five people that are closest to you in your social network, your family network.
So just have a think about that. Are there people that you could surround yourself with that would help you to develop your creativity, that would help you to broaden your worldview and that will help you to really see things through different eyes. So what you're looking at doing is getting some variety into your life, having some new experiences and stepping just outside of that comfort zone to find out new things and to help stretch yourself and to develop yourself.
So aside from going out to art galleries and museums and learning instruments and all of these other things, something is absolutely key to developing your creativity is to really fine tune your awareness of what's going on around you. And I want you to begin gathering sources of inspiration.
So you need to set yourself up for creative expansion if you like. What I mean by that is you want to make sure that you've got a scrapbook that you can gather ideas as you're going around. So it might be things that you tear out of magazines, it might be photographs that you take as you go out and about. It might be a shell that you pick up on the beach or a feather on a walk, whatever it is, have a central place that you can gather all of those sources of inspiration so that when you have time to come and develop those ideas, you've got all of these things that can trigger off those ideas in the first place.
We call it magpie-ing! In the same way that magpies gather shiny objects. You're going to be gathering together anything that catches your attention, and it doesn't have to be physical things. It can be a line from a song or from a movie or something that you've heard. It can be something that you've tasted, but whatever it is, record it.
Make sure that you're carrying something to collect inspiration when you're out and about. If you've got your phone with you, you can record something on a voice memo. You can record something on a note, but make sure that you've got one central place to record all of those sources of inspiration.
And when we come to do a brainstorming session, you've got everything that you need in one place and you have a constant stream of inspiration to help you to develop new ideas.
And finally we're going to talk about bringing it all together in a brainstorming session. So this is where you actually sit down and begin to develop your ideas.
As I said, creativity is a muscle that you need to exercise. And in the same way as if you're doing your Couch to 5K, if you want to develop your creative muscle, you need to put some time in your diary to do it. It's best to find the time of day that you feel most creative. For some people that's first thing in the morning. Other people get a burst of energy late at night. So whenever you feel most creative, try to shed some time at least once a week to sit down and actually go through the process of developing your creativity. Now link to that, don't wait for motivation to come to you.
It's no good saying, Oh well I don't feel like it at the moment. You won't feel like it. You sit down, you do the work anyway, and as you start getting into it, that's when the motivation comes. Once you start doing it, that's when you begin to enjoy it and that's when the ideas begin to flow.
So don't sit there waiting for inspiration and waiting for me to ovation. Just dive in at the allocated time that you've already diarised and get on with it. Now that said, you should see this brainstorming session as fun and not work. Get into it and start playing around with ideas. And one of the main things that I kind of want to drive home in this video is to let you know that you should be playing with your ideas. You should be experimenting, you should be taking risks.
So in your brainstorming session, you are going to be looking at all of your sources of inspiration. Take a piece, shell or a feather or whatever you've got and start to just draw ideas that come to it. You can sketch things. You can look at the colours of the object that you've got, or the shapes or the feel of it, or the smells and start sketching, start writing ideas down. Start making connections. Allow yourself to go off at a tangent and to start thinking of other things. When you begin to look at idea development, you will find the ideas can jump around and you get this kind of snowballing effect where one idea moves into another idea, moves into a bigger idea, goes off at a tangent, and that's absolutely okay. We call it snowballing or piggybacking because you're piggybacking off of the previous idea.
Those things are fantastic and you just want to record every step of the way, but don't allow yourself at this moment to stop yourself. Don't allow yourself to close down any ideas, no matter how ridiculous or crazy the ideas are that you're coming up with. Quite often you'll find that that will develop and that you will find a nugget of something precious in the middle of it.
So don't restrict yourself when you're brainstorming. Take risks, play, experiment, and really get that creativity out. You can brainstorm how you want. You can do on a computer program with a mind map, you can get giant pieces of paper and scribble with pens. You can get a whiteboard and put up all of your ideas up with sticky notes. Whatever comes naturally to you and whatever you like to do best is the way to do it.
So just go with it, play with it and have fun. If you get stuck during a brainstorming session, there are some things that you can do. So first off you can get up and walk away, go and change your environment. Whether that's just pop into the kitchen for a cup of tea or whether it's going out for a quick country walk. Now, don't allow yourself to get away from the brainstorming session for too long, but sometimes a change of environment can be really helpful.
Another thing to do if you're getting stuck with the brainstorming is to make sure that you're collaborating with other people so you can actually sit down and brainstorm with other people. Having people that have a different worldview to you, a different viewpoint, a different set of ideas, a different set of experiences can actually be really helpful in coming up with all sorts of creative solutions. Because when you've got people addressing things from all different angles, you are going to have a wealth of experience to draw from and you are going to get the best solution when you've got lots of ideas coming to the forefront.
So in this blog, we've looked at the fact that creativity can be learned. It is a muscle that needs to be exercised. We have learned some different strategies for exposing yourself to new experiences. We've looked at how you gather sources of inspiration and making sure that you're acting like a magpie and gathering sources of inspiration to you and keeping them safe in one place. And then we've looked at how to go through a brainstorming session.
So I hope that you've enjoyed this blog and if you'd like to keep the conversation going, then come and join us over in our free Facebook group, interiorchat.com.