Creativity is not imagination. It’s realisation.

January 13, 2021 • CreativityConnect ↗

Abstract painting depicting a persons shadow and colour splashes.
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve stumbled across multiple different conversations that put me face to face with an interesting question…

What determines the creativity in a human?

I am sure, if you are creative — or not, you have come across a situation where you are left wondering what really defines creativity in one way or another. Whether you yourself have been described or have listened to others be described as such. What really makes a person creative?

My name is Julian Paul. I am a trained Sound Engineer, DJ & Music Producer at heart and an immense passion for conceptual Branding. Being creative to me means marrying ideas for my own music or visual brand concepts with thoughtful execution. But how come people with no obvious track record of being creative suddenly get titled as such?

The more I spoke with artists and non-artists about what I was thinking, the more clear an answer became.

You see, throughout history, people were highly specialised in one single craft. Sure, there were entrepreneurs that needed to hone many different skill sets in order to build up and grow a business out of nothing (just like today), but artists such as painters, musicians, singers, and writers were laser-focused and deviated little from what they were aiming to accomplish.

Oil painting depicting a painter in the setting of drawing another artist in their element.
The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer

Take for example the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. When looking at his life story, he would fall under the similar facet described above. And this stands true for a majority of the most creative minds in any artistic field throughout history.

However, with the dawn of the Creator Economy and the rapid digitalisation after the dot-com bubble in the 2000s, we are facing an unprecedented effort of humans frantically trying to master the many rather than the few. Why?

We now have endless possibilities as well as non existent global and local restrictions.

What can once be described as hobbies — an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”, has shifted into side projects, hustles, or even full-time jobs. This is not just a because we can” mentality… I think it runs a bit deeper than that. Let’s factor in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

  1. We have all our basic needs completely fulfilled in the western world.
  2. We feel psychologically safe and are able to fuel our esteem through an and endless sense of love & belonging — so that we are now able to focus wholly and fully on self-actualisation.
5 Step Need Hierarchy by Maslow. 1: Psychological, 2: Safety, 3: Love & Belonging, 4: Esteem, 5: Self-actualisation.
Image by Els Kenney from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The Creator Economy, therefore, reflects never-ending change and progression with the sole purpose of fulfilling our very own potential. Whether this is through work, spirit or anything else.

Our reality has shifted thus from Titans of Industry’ to Titans of Creativity’. We only need to look at TikTok, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, and many more social media platforms that are determining our lives. The privilege to create and do as we are nowadays is truly unfathomable. I myself fail to realise this daily…

Why does this all matter to my initial question?

We are all wound up in an endless endeavour to be seen as valuable to society. But do we ever ask why we feel the need to be creative? And all the time?

Don’t get me wrong. I think creating is one of life’s greatest gifts. It is what makes us human — our ability to translate emotions into output, no matter what format, is simply put sensational.

But not everyone is creative. Here’s why.

Each of us is born with imagination — the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”

But imagination does not make you creative. Output does. And that is where we have sadly blurred the lines in todays society. We think, we imagine, but most of us never even begin to realise the ideas we have inside our heads. Which in turn also highlights the beauty of the Creator Economy — endless potential for realisation of the the imagination.

Creativity is realisation and not imagination.

I personally think that there are levels to which you can be creative. Almost like a ladder we can climb and fall back down from. To me, that’s because an artist is only as creative as the work they realise. And this also determines how good they are… Especially when analysing how far they’ve been able to climb their ladder.

And so you might ask. We all fall short by this standard, no?” Of course! Myself included. But I also think that acts as kind of reality check, which is vital to push our creativity to never before explored depths.

Because if imagination, the source of it all is endless. Then so must creativity in itself be endless.

The only limitation is that which one sets up in one’s own mind.” — Napoleon Hill

The main takeaway

I’ve learnt to separate imagination from creativity and solely determine the creativity of myself and others by the quantity and quality of output — of what I am able to realise.

Yes, we all have vivid imaginations that are waiting to be unleashed. And yes, imaginations are only waiting to realise their fullest potential. But in order to be creative, I’ve learnt the requirement to realise, to relentlessly do — to put quantity over quality at every turn.

That is the one and only true objective measure for creativity. Quality comes from quantity of output in any artistic expression.

Once you focus on realising, you can truly be determined a creative.

So keep on creating. And never stop imagining.

I hope this article has left you inspired. For me, self-awareness only comes through perspective, which I aim to deliver through all of my writing. If this article has given you food for thought, feel free to share it. I greatly appreciate support like that.

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