Abandoning Originality


My conversations with people around me on the subject of creativity are very often met with a wishful expression — “oh how I wish I know how to do art” — sometimes tinged with envy — “if only I can be that creative!”

I relish in these moments. They show that people do think about art. These expressions act like little glimpses of hope in a world that sometimes trivializes the power of art and creativity.

One thing that can be of consensus for sure then, is that the idea of being an artist has its appeal, regardless of individual backgrounds. I understand the appeal, and am personally trying to stay close to that allure. But staying close to this allure often comes with consequences, one of them being needing to face criticism that making art is unattainable. Sometimes I find myself winding up in this vicious cycle where I internalize these pessimism when it comes to creating.

Through these interactions, I have come to realise that the type of creativity that most people believe in is more often than not associated as a quality only a few possess, almost like a god-given ability — something that you either have it or not. Sometimes I question whether is that a narrative that we instil in our social environment in order to protect ourselves from judgement and criticism when creating (if there’s even any creating at all). What if we are to be more forgiving when it comes to deciding what’s creative and what’s not? What if we acknowledge that defining creativity in itself is non-restrictive? By letting go of the idea that creativity is within reach only for some people?

I kind of loathe the idea of reducing creativity to a list of self-help rules as if there’s a methodical way of being creative. I prefer this article’s reinterpretation of creativity — as a form of integration — a way of thinking and thus as a way of living. There’s creativity involved in being a maker of art, and there’s also creativity in the making when someone looks at a work of art. There’s creativity involved in overcoming grief, heartbreaks, in parenthood, in maintaining relationships and of course the most obvious, in writing that novel or coming up with that big campaign idea. The idea that non-artists can be creative in their lives breaks up the shackles of sacred originality and for that as an artist and as a creator, it makes all the difference.

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