When is creative too creative?

Avada News   •   June 2, 2016

The true nature of ‘being a creative’ is found in immersing yourself in humanity — in culture, politics, science, sociology; the things that impact us as people, as individuals. The things that really move us.

From my experience, creatives are too close to their industry — they are constantly on top of the latest trends and tools, they seek approval from their peers, often other creatives.

They think this is the path to inspiration, the way to becoming a better writer or designer, when in reality it cultivates groupthink, tunnel vision, and more often than not it causes us to close ourselves to those ideas which may prove contradictory to our own creativity.

If the person has become more important than the idea, that is the first sign of trouble.

Is a certain artist your favorite because of their art? Or is the art your favorite because of the artist?
If your answer is the latter you are in danger of being a small creative. Here is how I escaped this dangerous trap.
My Reason

I write for myself.

That’s it. Different businesses call it different things: your ‘why’, your motivation, what have you. A few will say some reasons are better than others, but in the end if you’re not writing for yourself, you’ll never make it to where you want to go. It doesn’t have to be a big reason (i.e. having your article featured online), but if it’s anyone’s reason besides your own, it just won’t fit.
My Medium

My medium, or my brush, is more a long list of things to avoid, or bad brushes.

I stay away from the trending design challenges, or challenges on creating the perfect grid, or the latest prototyping tool that will “change the way you think about design” because, well… I find them boring. I could find notoriety by having the best solution, but I’d just be one among a million others all writing about things we don’t care about.

Why bear the burden of being a creative if I’m not even going to write about things I enjoy?

New tools and techniques are important, but they don’t make you a better creative. If you have created something incredible with a new tool, your focus should be on what you achieved, not on what buttons you pressed to achieve it.

The old adage “Cameras don’t take good pictures, photographers do” holds just as true for writers and designers.
My Paint

As creative, we naturally create bubbles for ourselves–we attend creative conferences with other creatives, read books and blogs on design–the bottom line is that we narrow our view.

We’re human, after all; it is natural. We avoid ideas or beliefs that are contradictory to our own–it makes us feel comfortable, even successful, but it creates an inspirational trap.

In truth, however, nobody has figured it out (including me) so I personally don’t put a lot of stock in design books or blogs. Theirs is only one in a sea of opinions and professional advice.

I do try to stay current on the trends, the new styles, but far enough away to avoid being biased by them. I’m a creative because I believe my way of doing things is new, unique, and important, why would I want to try to be like everyone else, then?

I became a better creative by looking beyond my own field. Just because I may be right, does not mean that you, or experts in other fields, are wrong.

From what I’ve seen, the great creatives are able to collect the best parts of other aspects of life, other businesses, and connect those dots into something new and beautiful–once they accomplish this, design as a skill just provides the tools and framework for their ideas–the instruments that allow them to make sense of the information they collected.

The idea guides the brush, the brush does not guide the idea.

Creativity is an essential quality which is present in all aspects of our lives. It is in our way of thinking, presenting, building, preaching, and even the little daily chores we do at home. If we are not imaginative and innovative with ourselves, life becomes pretty boring doesn’t it? Being creative helps us stay organized and come up with new ideas and techniques for the work we do. Simple inventions like Snapchat and Facebook wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for the minds that thought out of the box and helped create the world we live in now.

As essential it is to be creative, it shouldn’t come in between professionalism. Studies have shown that proposals that show too much creativity often fail, and that humans are drawn to what’s familiar to them. Despite being original with your content, people tend to sometimes try too hard to achieve something and end up overkilling it. It comes out as a cry for attention, be it by an unemployed candidate or a simple youtuber. People tend to overdo in trying to impress the audience they are approaching.
Less is more

Yes there are expectations for people to bring a unique and different idea on the table in order to be noticeable and inventive, but sometimes less is more. An article printed in Brigham Young University’s school magazine tells of an MBA student who sent his resume to Johnson & Johnson, only to have it returned with the instructions that it “needed to be printed on white paper, mailed unstapled in an 8 ½ x 11 envelope, and could not have fancy printing or graphics, bold, underlines, italics, or small print.” This is a great example which teaches us balance between our creative thinking and knowing how much is too much. In trying to create an impression, overdoing can easily bring down the value of your work.
Know your audience

Know when to demonstrate your abilities and how much. Being too flashy or overly creative for a 9-5 job resume doesn’t really fit in a professional work place, does it? This just ends up portraying an individual who has misplaced priorities, someone who spends too much time amusing themselves with creating a project instead of focusing on putting that project to work in order to achieve its intended result. In industries like graphic design and advertising your resume can be as vibrant and spirited as you want.

It is all about the right balance between being familiar with your knowledge and being too surprising. It’s not enough to simply come up with the most creative idea you can – you also need to make sure that it contains some familiarity. If an idea is so new that it’s hard to understand and explain, it’s unlikely to be successful.

By |2018-10-09T04:17:33+00:00July 22nd, 2016|Latest Articles|