Prayas Abhinav's personal blog - commentary, rants and reflections

How creative are we after all?

The creative community (which doesn’t exist yet) in India is usually thought of as a practitioner-community that is consistent in character. As if a certain practice could make a person creative! So artists, writers, journalists and such are usually clubbed together because what they do seems to have some common elements. The word creative is very complex and is commonly used in a diverse set of scenarios. It refers to someone making something from nothing (context: the creative arts, making activity of any kind…). The word can also be used to refer to someone who can find and solve problems and look at situations differently (context: management, administration, entrepreneurs…).

But what does the word mean? In its most basic sense, the word implies actions (tangible or mental) that show a capacity to invest tradition, ritual and method with active questioning and playfulness to make them more meaningful.

Not all practitioners referenced by the first context of the word do the above. Most people who have engaged with the art and design community will support this perspective. Generally the more well-known, conventionally successful, and senior a practitioner is, the greater the likelihood of their being attached to a format, formulas, and traditions. This attachment might come from the lack of time, the wish to cater to an audience, a genuine persistence of interests and enquiries or a sometimes even an urge to play image-politics of some kind. So, that means that successful practitioners belonging to a group defined by the first context are generally not even creative! And this is a danger that each of us (who hopes to lead a creative life) faces. Our capacity to be genuinely creative as we get more experienced and become more successful keeps reducing. And it can become a real struggle to be creative, when it is more being consistent or formulaic is more profitable. 

The group defined by the second context is more likely to be actually creative in the real sense of the word. Because in the second context, the practice rewards people for performance and not for legacy.

I am trying to make a point here and not dissing entire practices and the hugely diverse set of people that they represent. The point is that these practices are essentially modes of activities and cannot be made to stand for ways and qualities of being. Every time we do so, we actually take away something from the word “creative” and the potential it holds.

I am not saying creative people are in any way better that people who are don’t know how to behave creatively. Not every situation needs a creative person to handle it or to do what it demands. Sometimes a calm, rational and sensitive person can do more good than a creative person.

But “Do we make up a community of some kind at all?” – maybe not. Maybe we don’t really belong to a “artist community” or “makers community” or “creative community” at all? Maybe we are too complex as people to sit neatly in categories and feel good about it.

Categorisation is oppressive – especially categorisation or human beings. Rather than practices or professional roles maybe the quality of how we play our everyday roles should attract the usage of the word “creative”.

Everybody is not creative. Nobody is creative. Some of us just allow ourselves to think/act creatively sometimes.