What Does “Creative” Mean Anyway?

Magic-is-something-you-make

It would be arrogant of me to believe that there have only been a few people on this Earth who were dismissed as “creative” at one point or another. It’s both liberating and confusing to see the term rising through the ranks in today’s job market. On the one hand creative people all around the world can take a sigh of relief as they no longer have to hide their interests in finding new, efficient or beautiful ways to do things. They can lay their interests in aesthetics out on the table and wave their freak flag proudly.

On the other hand, while the term “creative” comes up abundantly on search engines and job websites, there still seems to be a gap between what people expect and what creatives actually supply. How often does the term “creative” get mistaken for the phrase “creative control”? On this side of the fence, the former term does suggest a level of trust that the artist’s taste will match the needs of their employer. At minimum, the employer is looking for someone who will regularly meet them with opposition. Not in an aggressive way of course, but in a way that carves out enough space for regular growth.

It’s easy to think that the term “creative” has a space for “control” within it’s definition because it brings with it the idea of individual interpretation. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who could dissociate the two. But are employers actually looking to give up control? I think it depends on the artist.

We’ve all met people who describe themselves as creatives but don’t have the skills to express themselves or the drive to do it consistently and effectively. And it seems that that particular idea of a creative person is what most people think of when the word comes up and what leads them to steer clear of all creatives. In a conversation I had with a friend, he told me he could see me struggling to be true to who I was. As the conversation went on, it came out that I often went back and forth between being the “creative, expressive Jalayna” and the “logical, contemplative Jalayna”. Being the amazing friend that he is, he called me out on my unhealthy attempts to divide one from the other.

Everyone has been affected, and to some degree scarred, by someone else’s attempt to limit who they are and what they are capable of. The “creative” person has traditionally been the outcast of society, depicted as uncontrollable, unreliable and even somewhat needy. And yet now, in the 21st century we see the “creative” taking back it’s identity. People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have made creative cool by naming it innovation. It’s the newest thing in business of course but it has the same age old properties of being creative.

They want people who can think outside of the lines they were taught to draw inside of. They want people who can imagine things that aren’t there yet but they’ll see your bluff and raise you one by daring you to back it up with action. I can not expect to simply paint or sketch things that are not real, I need to be able to manifest them into matter, into reality. Well if that isn’t magic then I don’t know what is.

But that’s fine. Because the new creative – the one that is useful to this society – creates in more ways than one. They do not just think, they build. They’re apart of the action, not just directing from the sidelines. So I suppose creative means exactly what it sounds like: ‘one who creates’.

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