akhia Creativity Month is upon us. In September, we are exploring creativity and celebrating its power. In this industry, we know the value of really good creative. We understand the positive effects it can have on a message, an initiative, a campaign, a brand. But have we ever stopped to wonder where creativity comes from? How it happens? And why it’s so important?
As someone with “creative” in their title, I’ve spent most of my life asking myself those very questions, chasing creativity and honing MY CREATIVITY. It’s an ongoing, in perpetuity endeavor, and for me it started early.
In the second grade, I told my elementary school art teacher, Mr. York, that when I grew up, “I was going to be an artist.” I remember this distinctly. We’d recently had an enlightening lesson on how to draw trees. Not just a thick brown trunk with a big green circle on top, but how to construct actual branches, with detail and dimension. This was the big time! Next-level stuff way beyond kindergarten. I was so inspired with the new knowledge that I had no doubt being an artist was what I was going to do with my life. Thanks, Mr. York!
I went on to hone my craft beyond drawing trees and working with crayons, jumping in with both feet. Throughout middle school and high school, I immersed myself in all things artistic––drawing, painting and creating––any chance I had. In college, I was exposed to new mediums, new ways of thinking and a freedom to express MY CREATIVITY in any way I felt. Beyond the fine arts, I discovered the university’s graphic design program and was excited by the “problem-solving” aspect that accompanied visual expression. I enjoyed art school so much that I convinced my parents to let me stay an extra year because I hadn’t explored everything that the program had to offer. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, I still stand behind the claim that my ceramics class contributed to the success of my career.)
After college, I quicky joined the advertising agency world as a hungry (maybe a tad cocky) art director. I found this time incredibly exciting, challenging in a rewarding fashion, and felt as though MY CREATIVITY was as sharp as it would ever be. I was living the oft-repeated notion: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Exactly! My entire life had been a journey to this. And what could be better, I had a job where I was able to express MY CREATIVITY every day.
Ready for the letdown? MY CREATIVITY didn’t matter. MY CREATIVITY wasn’t the best. MY CREATIVITY was, it pains me to say, small.
So now you might be asking yourself, if that’s the case, how have you had a 20+ year career in a creative industry? How have you spent the last eight years as creative director? If MY CREATIVITY was small, how could I do big things?
Well, I’ll tell ya. It was the creativity of everyone else. Kind of makes me sound like a hack, right?
Up to this point, everything I had done was a solo venture. All the drawing and painting while I was young was just me expressing MY CREATIVITY. Art school and design school was not too different, but I was expanding MY CREATIVITY. When I landed that first job at an agency, my ideas of creativity were called into question. I had to rethink the idea of MY CREATIVITY.
MY CREATIVITY was small because great solutions are multifaceted.
MY CREATIVITY wasn’t the best because it can always be better.
MY CREATIVITY didn’t matter because a great creative doesn’t come from one person or one idea. It’s the collaboration of a great team … the entire team.
Creativity is a lot of things. It makes ideas BIG, it makes stories memorable, it makes concepts unexpected. One thing creativity shouldn’t be is the responsibility of one person, one department, one discipline. Some of the best results come when everyone contributes. Not just the people with “creative” or “writer” or “designer” in their title … but EVERYONE!
So for the next month (and beyond) engage with us. Celebrate akhia Creativity Month. Question your perception of creativity. Explore your world and find what you think is creative. And most importantly, discover your creative power.