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Creative Thinking 101: Creativity is not Competitive

Creativity is not Competitive.

This is a hard one for most people. In the western world, we’re so programmed to believe that life is a contest to be won. We’ve always been inundated with contests in all forms.

With a narrow worldview of winners and losers, no wonder people lack creative confidence. We shy away from creating something because we think if it’s going to suck, some terrible shame will befall us.

Filmmaker Woody Allen has never attended the Academy Awards because he has a deep-seated belief that artistic expression is a neutral and rather sacred endeavour. To make it competitive is to demean it, and miss the point. If he becomes remotely concerned with what his critics say, he will create for them and not for himself. For Allen, all art forms should merely be enjoyed, and never judged.

"We all should know that Diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their colour.” - Maya Angelou

We can’t speak for all creative people, but we see the world as a giant pie where everyone is a piece and has a unique, creative part to contribute. There is an open curiosity about what each person will express creatively, and what can we learn from each other. Most artists we know, seek out, appreciate, and respect, the creative efforts of other people, and have an admiration and curiosity for work that is well executed. We look at the work of others to fuel our own inspiration. This is the kind of attitude you need to generate and maintain a creative environment. Be open to what others want to express. No judgment, and no critics allowed.

The great painter Marc Chagall said, “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.”

When we fear our efforts won’t be any good, we’re stuck in our ego and our head. Move into your heart space. Make something just for the joy of it. Think about all the things you do just for fun. Do you play an instrument or a sport? Do you expect that you’ll play Carnegie Hall or be in the Olympics one day? Probably not, but you play anyway, just for the joy of it. Art and creative endeavors are the same thing. We make art for fun. Just because, just for the pure pleasure of creating something. So create for your own joy and curiosity, and always ignore the critics.

Winnipeg art made by students
Mural by students from Golden Gates Middle School, Winnipeg, 2015. Under the guidance of artists Carmela Wade and Dianne Cameron

Using Paul Klee’s painting as our source of inspiration, we wanted to create a Winnipeg landscape rich with vibrant, colourful flags from around the world. We referenced many Winnipeg landmarks including: The Human Rights Museum, The Legislative/Golden Boy, the Place Promenade Bridge, Golden Gates Middle School, The Red and Assiniboine River, and finally paying homage to rural Manitoba with the grain elevator. The students created the words in the background. They were asked: What does Cultural Diversity mean to you? Their list included: love, tradition, connection, culture, peace, respect, and thank-you.


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