Creativity and ME

Of course I'm creative - I'm a glass artist!!

But... I haven't always been in a typically 'creative' profession - I started my working life doing an engineering apprenticeship and worked in avionics. I was also a training officer, training & development manager and an HR manager. If I asked you to name some creative jobs, I'm pretty sure HR wouldn't feature in your list.

I used to believe I was born creative - I grew up constantly turning my hand to something, as both my parents were creative. My mum was the queen of the fancy dress outfit and was always learning the latest popular craft technique. I remember 'pin-art' taking over any available wall space in our house during the late 1970's - the gold sparkly thread of a penny farthing, against a brown felt-covered piece of chip-board is permanently etched in my memory! I have to thank my mum for the many award winning fancy dress costumes she fashioned out of anything and everything - to the right you can see me as a court jester wearing one of her attractive purple blouses and my pom-pom sock/shoes which really stole the show. My all time favourite however was my random request to be a native american totem pole (yeah... we had been learning about Pocahontas). Without batting an eyelid, she gathered together an assortment of boxes and began offering them up to see which would fit over my body. Sadly I have no photo of this construction, but imagine a tower of painted boxes completely covering a small probably 7 year old child and believe me when I say I couldn't eat, drink or go to the loo once it was on! Walking was a challenge, but I was so proud of it - painted with all manner of brightly coloured shapes and symbols and topped with an eagle (obviously!)

My dad on the other hand was more into the practical creativity of wood carving for fun but also built 2 boats and a couple of rocking horses to pass the time at work in the New Caledonian Wharf at Surrey Docks, whilst waiting for the cranes to break down and do some real work lol. He was an engineer who in the true sense of the word, really understood what it was to use creativity to improve, fix and build - he looked at problems with a 'can-do' attitude and just seemed to come up with a solution which was sometimes crazy but always interesting!

Hence I always assumed I must have been born with creative genes, but I have come to realise that I was being trained from a young age to think creatively! So it's only natural I guess that my son is learning to be creative too! At around 6 years old I found him inserting his pencils into the chuck of an electric screwdriver, to speed up the sharpening process! How could I be cross - it was a genius idea!

So having been exposed to creativity all my life and then training in a scientific profession where large amounts of logic and process are also important, I feel very comfortable with the processes involved in kiln-formed glass, as they are both scientific and creative in equal measure. Pushing the boundaries of a material by applying varying degrees of heat and utilising gravity and chemical reactions is a constant learning curve!

Ready for work
Ready for work
Jesters were all the rage in the 70's
Jesters were all the rage in the 70's
Ellis sharpening the pencils
Ellis sharpening the pencils

What is creativity?

According to Wikipedia

“Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object.”

So it's about ways of thinking - this ring is made with dichroic glass; a metalic coating developed originally for helmet visors in the space program. Cool huh?

Why is it important?

Creativity is at the heart of innovation and invention - without it, new ideas would be stifled and progress hampered. Consider Steve Jobs - love it or loathe it, you have to admit that the Apple phenomenon was and remains a creative upstart in the world of tech!

Create-ivity is essential for problem solving and forming new concepts in design and engineering.

Consider applications such at 3D printing shown above - that took some serious creative thinking!

How do you 'get' it?

Is it nature or is it nurture?

Can you learn creativity or are you born with it?

I believe you CAN learn to be creative - it's a matter of mindset and practice. We have all heard of child prodigies and we could assume some people are born extraordinary, but truthfully, they had to practice - and we know that practice makes perfect!

Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia

So what's my point?

I have come to recognise that in all the jobs I have had, creativity has made the biggest impact on progress and problem solving. Even in HR! A potentially massive issue was solved when big changes in the organisation could not be implemented using our traditional methods - but with a bit of creative thinking, we found a new way. It wasn't about design or aesthetics, it was about mindset and allowing people to challenge norms.

Therefore I am a big advocate of encouraging creativity in any and all types of business and job. Giving people the opportunity to bring their ideas to the table has been shown to improve both morale and productivity, so it's a win-win situation!

If you are a business owner or an employee or an artist of some kind, when was the last time you challenged your own ideas about how things get done? Are you stuck in a pattern or cycle of ways of doing things, or ways of thinking? Is it because you haven't allowed yourself to think 'outside the box' (gotta love that phrase - it does what is says on the tin!) Could your business, your work, your relationships with others, your LIFE, be improved by training yourself to be a bit more creative in your thinking. With thinking, comes doing - so if you can start to think more creatively, you will find yourself BEING more creative. Go for it! Challenge the norms, push the boundaries, wear blue with green - see what happens!

My creative hero is Antoni Gaudi - architect, engineer, innovator, artist, creative thinker, problem solver. Looking to nature for new building techniques, brought us the phenomenal Sagrada Familia in Barcelona - a true coming-together of his amazing creativity can be seen in every aspect of this wonderful cathedral. From the plant inspired central columns holding up the roof, to the shower of coloured light transmitted through the stained glass windows - nothing ordinary or traditional about this place!! Creativity at it's finest in my honest opinion :0)

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