Don’t Stick With What You’ve Been Taught; You’re a Creative So Get Creative.

What is Creativity?

Wikipedia describes Creativity as this;

“Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness is that it is simply the act of making something new.”

I believe anyone can be creative, I believe all people have a creative bone in their body but some do not see the need to use it or have the inclination to do so. At the end of the day if it is not in their interest to do so they’re not going to be happy whilst being creative.

Creativity doesn’t start and end with design, you can be creative building a stone wall, writing an article or even herding sheep if that is what you’re into.

Exploring creativity from an early age

As I said earlier, I believe all people are born with a creative bone, it is their choice if they wish to develop that bone into a full pixel blooded body. We at one point in our life would stand in front of an easel or at the kitchen table with a pack of crayons and design the largest mess your parents had ever seen, but to you it was perfect. That block of orange and pink mixed together was like your version of the Mona Lisa. These were the days before you were taught to draw straight lines and even write your name, but for now you loved every minute of making that mess because it was your masterpiece.

Schooling and Universities

You grow up going through various schools with different teachers and along the way you decide whether you’re going to be an artist and carry on developing the pink and orange Mona Lisa you started so many years ago or you decide that graphic design is more your desired route. In England especially Graphic Design and Art are part of the National Curriculum where you have to choose one to do as part of your exams. I personally chose Graphic Design as I was more inclined to pick up a pencil and ruler and develop something more along the lines of a good looking magazine.

I wasn’t influenced by my peers or by my Graphic Design teacher. My teacher who I looked up to for guidance rather than influence was called Mr Beecroft and I still remember him to this day as the man who guided me through the early years of my development, we got on well and he would never try and influence what I was trying to create, he would more often than not tell me to go and research what I was trying to do and say,

“Find out what others are doing, see what they’re doing wrong and produce something that in your eyes is right…”

The GCSE Graphic Design qualification was the only design related qualification I’ve ever gained. I decided to stay clear of University as I didn’t see the need, I am who I am, student debt and 3 years of my life was not going to help me progress. I ventured down a different career path whilst still designing and working within various Internet related jobs before setting up freelance and then becoming the Creative Director at Carrot Media.

I soon realized that designers I met along the way who had been to college or university had been directly influenced by their teacher. The normal traits of their teachers design had shown up in their own works. The creativity that they personally might have had before their course was diluted with what they’d been shown and instead of the teacher or examiner nurturing their talent they had in fact changed them completely.

My belief is that from a teachers point of view you can point of pupil in the right direction but you should never out rightly tell a pupil you have to design in a certain way. A creative individual should be able to take direction and use it to their best advantage.

I have seen some pupils listen to direction and produce some astounding work and I’ve watched others produce work that have been directly influenced and it is less aesthetically pleasing. Granted design is subjective so one person may like it and another not but you can certainly tell the difference.

Stop, Look and Listen

Going through your early years you can stop, look and listen to produce your own creative work. Too many people look at other work and are again directly influenced by what they see. I say look at other mediums that are not directly linked to your own, look out for works of art that you could indeed work with for colour palettes. Look at beautiful brochures that could be linked to a new blog design, the world is your oyster.

Learn from others

Gregory Wood from Erskine Design and Jason Santa Maria are taking web designs to a different level. A very arty creation on the web is taking their work in to new realms. That said, it is easy to look at others but certainly don’t copy what they’re doing. You’ve got that creative bone for a reason and it’s to create work that is unique to you, people will recognize your uniqueness and style and you could gain new clients just for that. Matt Brett is often realized as the grunge king, he has true talent in that area and seems to gain clients because of that area of work.


Trial and Error

Everything is trial and error through life, at the end when you’re old and grey you’ll look back and have two folders in front of you. The two folders will have different names, one will be ‘DO NOT TOUCH!’ and the other will be ‘Work Completed and I’m bloody proud of it!’ Don’t worry about the work that never made it, you created it, you didn’t like it and you realized why. The progression through trial and error will make you a better creative; if we never get negative feedback we’ll never learn how to do things in the future. Always take criticism constructively, remove emotion and remember it’s work.

Get creative

If you’ve produced something that you’re not sure on build up a trusted group of friends where you can go to for quiet feedback, you could even pluck up the courage and produce something live.

People, don’t stick with what you’ve been taught, you’re creative so get creative.

Gavin Elliott (@gavinelliott) is a designer, writer and creative strategist. He writes regularly at about design, creativity and the design industry. He’s a social media freak and is the founder of and .


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