Purposeful Creativity

So I was walking down around Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia one day and I came upon this painter/sketcher sitting in front of a blank canvas, looking blankly ahead as life passed all around him. Curious, I carefully approached him and hesitantly asked what he was waiting for.


“Hello sir. How are you?”

“Fine, thanks. And you?”

“Just fine also. You chose a great day to paint today – inspiration is all around!”

“Just taking my time”

“But what’re you waiting for? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to be intrusive or bossy, and not that I’m a stellar artist or anything. I’d just think that with so many people walking around, things happening all the time, combined with this sunny, cloudless, perfect day, sparks of creativity must be firing all around!”

“I guess so. I’m just waiting for the right time, right moment, you know? Something to let me know that the scene is just perfectly set.”

I sure hope that he found his moment, that he didn’t let anything slip by. And as I left him I began to wonder, why is it that creativity is now synonymous to random chances in time? Granted, there are many moment in life where one just knows that everything is perfect, inspired to capture that moment in some form of expression. But why is inspiration now also known as waiting. For some reason, our communities have begun to define creativity as these spontaneous bursts of “inspiration”, instantaneous thoughts of revelation that can also be so quickly lost if not somehow artistically articulated.

Creativity is so much more than a mere passive waiting. Instead, it is so much more of a continuing thought process, a phenomenon that is slowly and carefully developed over countless hours of trial and error. From what I’ve seen, those that have labored and weeded out the unwanted are the ones that have produced awesome, passion-filled pieces. Only those that have stepped out of their comfort zone and mixed their blood, sweat, and tears into their work have earned the right to be called successful individuals of self-expression. We must begin to see that we hold so much more in our hands than we have previously thought before. We must begin to give ourselves more credit, to begin to take responsibility for the art that we produce. No longer can we blame our unpolished work on a lack of creativity and inspiration; no longer can we sit around and wait for our creative minds to come to us, to be developed on their own.

It is only those who have seen the ugly that can conceive the beautiful.

Jon Hu is a student at the University of Pennsylvania who loves skateboarding and discovering new projects.


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