Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

Originality and Being Authentic

Originality is one of the most challenging aspects of creativity – we seem to judge and value people according to how original they are. This puts a huge pressure on our own creative activity, creating a block for our own expressions. Yet our creative work is made particularly our own through our choice of symbols, and how we feel about and represent them.

Creativity Quotes
Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do – Robert Henri 

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it – Clive Staples Lewis

Originality and Being Authentic
Our expression is not the technique we use, or the genre we fit into; it’s what is left over when these descriptions have been removed – it’s a bit like our attitude, reflecting the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. 
Although it is most obvious in our creative work, our expression permeates our lives. We choose symbols for the way we feel about them – they may be bold, brusque, entertaining, witty, objective, inquisitive, abundant, decorative, baroque, gentle, challenging, edgy, stark, lyrical, dramatic, provocative, nurturing, soft, muted, rough – and as our circumstances change, so we find different expressions. Over time the unconsciously recurring elements become our ‘signatures’ that can’t be changed or erased, no matter how hard we might try. In fact, at one stage the founders of Cubism, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, made every attempt to erase their own identities in their paintings, trying to create art that was truly ‘objective’. They used the same techniques, format, subject matter and colour palette, and the work is very hard to distinguish, but in the end, each artist’s style or touch remained – Braque having a softer, more feathery touch, and Picasso being bolder and more aggressive. Even when the most talented artists try to disguise their style, it will come through. Although we might worry that there is nothing that makes us distinctive, we can’t help but be unique, and the more space we allow ourselves for creative freedom, the more we reveal that side of ourselves. 

Creative Activities: 

  • Colour: list the colours that feature most prominently for you – in your wardrobe / jewelry / paint box / home décor / garden / office etc. What do they symbolize? Why do you choose them? 
  • Symbols: what images do you associate with the following concepts – they can be very personal or universal:
    Growth – Choice – Spirit – Search – Challenge
    Find a picture of one of them that you can save onto your desktop.
     
  • Think of famous personalities who represent the following concepts for you – what is it about their style that makes you say so?  Excitement – Excellence – Support – Rebel – Trust 
  • Choose a few of these words to describe yourself
    bold, brusque, entertaining, witty, objective, inquisitive, abundant, decorative, baroque, gentle, challenging, edgy, stark, lyrical, dramatic, provocative, nurturing, soft, muted, rough, searching, excitable, patient, curious. Continue with words from your own list.
     
  • If you’re feeling adventurous you can make an art work based around these concepts, representing yourself through symbols and style. 

We are challenged to be unique, and the path to that is to be authentic: we don’t become original by being different from others, but by truly being ourselves.  

May you discover and celebrate the things that make you unique.

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