At the end of every episode of The Terence and Philip Show I challenge our audience to “Do something creative,” but what do I mean by ‘creative’?
Creativity is a mix of randomness and restraint: extreme and editing. If there is no randomness, no sense of doing something different, then it’s hard to be considered creative! It’s equally easy to be completely random without restraint or editing and be unable to decide what is effective design or art. (More on those later.)
A long time ago in a country far away, I employed a graphic designer for some publishing work we were doing. I distinctly remember him generating three versions of an ad where he was unable to decide which was “best.” What was so odd, was that one of the designs clearly communicated content and mood better than the other two, which was immediately obvious (to me). He had random down, but lacked the editorial eye.
Creativity isn’t something exclusive to painters, sculptors and other practitioners of the “fine arts.” While they are a sub-branch of creativity, it is not limited to fine arts. To be really creative one has to be outside common bounds, while fine arts define common bounds!
Design is creativity applied to problem solving, which is why it appeals to me. Whether that problem is an icon design, a garden landscaping challenge or a new iPhone, the same skills of trying something new and different (randomness) combined with an editorial eye, work to solve the challenge.
It’s also beholden on the designer to be aware or changed opportunities: new tools, techniques and material make new opportunities possible. Applying those new solutions is definitely creative.
Art adds another dimension: passion. For about a year I shared a house with a college art student, David Middlebrook, now one of Australia’s more prominent landscape artists. Even then he had a very savvy understanding of “art” and had two working definitions, both equally true. “Art is what the art world will buy” and the much less cynical “Art is Passion.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a passion for people, for landscapes or for changing the world, Art is the expression of creativity with passion.
Bottom line: you can’t be conventional and creative.