Have you ever entered a building, new or old, and marveled with amazement at the innovative design, or gone into someone’s exquisitely decorated home, and thought, “Where did they get these ideas?” Or maybe a book consumed your attention from beginning to end – whether a novel with totally unexpected plot twists or a non-fiction work thoroughly researched and engagingly written – prompting you to ponder, “How does somebody write like that?”
We see countless other examples – movies, TV shows, photographs, musical productions and songs, paintings and sculptures, cartoons and graffiti – so original, rather than retreads of time-worn ideas, we can’t help feeling captivated and wishing for more.
Having spent my entire career in the creative arts – writing and photography, and dabbling a bit in graphic design – I’ve often wondered about creativity. From whence cometh the ideas? Often I’m not even certain about the origin of my own. When I started this blog, for example, I listed half a dozen ideas for posts before starting. I didn’t want to run out of material and cease posting after a week or two. But I’ve been blogging for several years and there still seems no shortage of ideas. (Of course you, the reader, might think differently!)
Sometimes when I see one of Hollywood’s latest films or try reading a science-fiction novel, I have suspicions the ideas might be byproducts of people smoking funny-smelling cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol with worms at the bottom. But for the most part, I think creative inspiration flows out of everyday life and experience.
A fundamental principle of architecture states “form follows function.” Once a means for fulfilling the specific function is determined, creativity allows the designer to manipulate form to achieve surprising and often striking aesthetic effects. I think this holds true for other pursuits as well.
Writers understand you can’t write about what you don’t know or haven’t experienced. So we either do extensive research, learning about the subject and thereby equipping ourselves to write about it, or we stick to topics we’re familiar with. That’s why you’ll never see me writing about hang-gliding, skydiving or competing in a triathlon – unless it’s from a spectator’s perspective. I want to know whereof I write, but there are places I won’t go to gain the necessary “whereof”!
Ultimately, however, I believe creativity has an even more profound source. The Bible opens by declaring, “In the beginning God created….” Later the triune God announces, “Let us make man in our image…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:26-27).
This has nothing to do with physical appearance, such as limbs, fingers and toes, but rather His character and attributes. We often hear it said, “God is love,” but He’s also many other things – creative being one of them.
For me, the incredible, infinite variety we can observe in nature reveals God’s boundless creativity. Snails, the praying mantis, platypus, porcupine, giraffe, hummingbirds, broadleaf trees and conifers, roses and daisies, gentle streams and gaping canyons, soaring mountains and sprawling deserts, serene lakes and pounding oceans. All to me express the imagination of our Creator God.
And to think we can share – be partakers – in His wondrous attribute of creativity, utilizing tools like words, paint, notes and scales, fabric, steel, plaster and wood, brass and porcelain, cameras, sculpting tools, pencils and pens, musical instruments and vocal cords to create and design things suited for all tastes and preferences.
That’s pretty cool if you ask me!
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.