Monday, July 13, 2015

"Creative" is an adjective

Something that's bothered me recently is the term "Creative" as a noun, to describe certain types of artistic people.  Often graphic designers or marketing folks. (Wiktionary even has an entry for this usage of the word, specifically referring to marketing).  Our companies hire "creatives" to design our websites, marketing materials, flyers, etc.

Why does this bother me? Because this subtly implies that these types of people have some sort of monopoly or ownership of creativity. While we are becoming more an more of a "consumer culture" (fewer people are willing to sing, make art, or write poetry -- instead we leave these up to the "professionals"), terms like this tell the rest of us that we aren't creative. That creativity only belongs to a certain type of worker.

Instead, why aren't we appreciating the different types of creativity exhibited by all sorts of people, and encouraging everyone to create? (Or did we forget that the first definition of "creative" is "tending to create things"?)  So many people love to create, and be creative, although it looks very different than your typical artist/designer creativity.

My wife likes inventing homemade toys and projects with our kids. My office mate enjoys writing and blogging. I have friends that like to make up (create!) party games. I like designing video games. Another friend likes coming up with fun electronic gadgets. None of us are "creatives" but we love to create.

I also have a friend that is a well-respected electrical engineer at the university where I work.  He has loads of patents, and numerous inventions, some of which have the potential to positively impact huge numbers of people. Is he creative? I'd say so -- he created some amazing things. Does he do any sort of traditional art? Not that I know of.

Despite many of my examples being some sort of geeky creativity, this isn't about engineers vs artists. I just want to celebrate people creating. I don't care if it's dance or circuit design, poetry or carpentry. Most of us have the potential to be creative in some way, but reserving the "creative" label for a select few that are doing some sort of particular art or design doesn't reflect this.

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