Creativity is making something new from two old things. It is a simple idea, isn't it?
Quality has nothing to do with it. In absolute terms, the success of an idea is whether it succeeded in being useful.Daydreaming produces an endless stream of ideas. But, quite rightly, we usually chose to ignore most of them. We just don't have the energy. There is a natural selection process.
Part of your experience as a creative person will be determining whether an idea is worth pursuing, or not. With that in mind, the discernment aspect of creativity is critical. Sometimes the choices you make will carry a concomitant element of risk.
On one hand, do you risk your resources: time, money…paint on something that might fail?
On the other, do you risk your resources on something lacking distinction (unoriginal)… or which just reinforces the orthodoxy of your discipline; then there is an equal risk that you will have wasted your energies.
In many cases quality is assigned in hindsight. The typography of David Carson influenced a generation of print designers (not always in a good way). Classicists and modernists alike despised it. In many ways the radical of yesterday will often become the establishment.
I have a personal suspicion of creative people who fail to risk anything, preferring to emulate a style or surf a wave of trend. At the heart of creativity is the idea. But novel ideas are worth more than reiterations of the proven. Novel ideas that survive and succeed are the ultimate.
But there is no n'est plus ultra. Ideas feed creative minds who breed new ideas, displacing what went before.
Registered trademarks, registered designs, patents and other forms of commercial monopolisation of ideas will continue to be measures of commercial creativity. However the democratisation of creativity is relentless and is an innately snowballing process.
In developed countries, at least, we live at the top of Maslow's hierarchy - our basic needs are well and truly catered to. (In New Zealand cases of death by starvation are few and far between). We are deeply immersed in a hedonistic self-actualisation. Most people have an ever-increasing amount of leisure time, the wherewithall and access to digital technologies like the Internet, cameras and computers. We reported trendwatching.com's concept of Generation C in issue 3 ofIdealog magazine.
We are driven to express our ideas and creativity. More leisure, plenty of time and a relentless desire to be stimulated also creates a ready market with which to produce and consume the outputs. The convergence of economic and social forces has created a maelstrom in which the sluggish, conservative will be consumed. Because of this contemporary intellectual property concepts designed to protect the owner of an idea and offer a monopoly for a period in which its owner can exploit it will offer only nominal protection in real terms. Market forces will simply divert around the obstacle toward further progress, as a river changes course. In this case it is a river of lava. Meanwhile the owner of the IP depletes their energy conserving and protecting what has already been made and is, therefore, history.
Creativity is an irresistible human force. A perpetual motion machine. Ideas are its fuel, talent is the engine and the market is the racetrack.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
David MacGregor is co-founder and creative director of Idealog