Why do we create?

Vika Shah’s thought economics blog carries an interview with Philippe Starck, one of the most prolific designers of the last half-century. In this interview, Stark explains his passion and motivation for design.

He said: “Design is just an application of the mental sickness called creativity. You create to have the feeling of existing”.

I guess most people would respond to such striking statement by saying: “This is too far-fetched”. But I kind of believe that « creating to bring meaning to one’s own existence » must be a strong motivator, probably subconscious for many creative minds out there.. Such motivation equals creativity with a basic human instinct rather than something we thought requires high qualifications, complex techniques, or simply say “some gifts”.

Is creativity a gift or something we are born with?

“In ancient Greece and ancient Rome, people did not believe that creativity came from human beings. They believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity “daemons.” The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius. They believed that a genius was a sort of magical divine entity, who literally lived in the walls of an artist’s studio… And then the Renaissance came and everything changed. People started to believe this big idea of putting the individual human being at the center of the universe above all gods and mysteries. And this heralded the dawn of rational humanism. People started to believe that creativity came completely from the self of the individual. And for the first time in history, you started to hear people referring to this or that artist as being a genius rather than having a genius. “ (Quote from Elizabeth Gilbert-author’s talk at Ted.com)

muse(Picture from: http://revcruz.blogspot.com/2010/11/muse.html)

If we believe that everyone has equal talent to create, then “how creative he/she is” is only an expression or a way of release. It also proves that internal motivation is the major reason for people to participate in creative related activity. It all goes back to people’s human instinct that “they have it” and “they want to express that”. However, in reality, it is not always true that all the people become creative people and get to create something.

I think the fundamental reason for this is lack of “connection” and “inspiration”, or we say “the other mind”.

Creativity is like digging for gold, together.

Everyone’s creative power is a hidden treasure waiting to be explored and brought into the sunlight. Inspiring and unleashing it is akin to gold digging. This time your tool is not a pick but another creative mind. Someone’s idea will awaken some other great ideas. We call this process “inspire” or “stimulate”. This “gold digging” is not only an exploration but also a connection. And that forms the most simple and basic model of creation and innovation. Creating becomes a motion than fulfill both human needs of “expressing” and “connecting”.

That answers the question: why do we create?

It is our human nature, our  instinct to express ourselves and also to connect.




About Laura

Laura Liang was a strategic planner in eYeka. She is an insight catcher and seeks for varied ways to reveal the underlying insight behind different social phenomena and human behaviors. And she utilizes them to form the strategy for brands and to inspire creativity. Laura has passion for art and music, she's a indie music lover and enjoys all the art-related activities, in her spare time, she practices yoga and loves reading and writing. She now works as Planning Director at Ogilvy & Mather in Singapore.
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