can creativity be taught, or is it an innate quality?

I’m currently charged with reviewing a coworkers work. With constantly giving feedback, suggestions, hints and tips. . .trying very hard to dig down deep within myself and not tell them how to achieve results, just give them direction to figure it out on their own. This is very difficult for me, being critical. I always start off with something positive to say. . .because there’s almost always something positive to say about someone’s work. I like your color choice or the layout really works or great tagline. . .and then I delve into how I would best solve the visual problem. . .moving this here or there, selecting a different font, being careful to phrase it as ” have you considered doing this” or “are there other images that you think would work here”. . .not trying to fill in the blanks, just offer suggestions. Be constructive, helpfully critical, serve my purpose. 

What I’m beginning to wonder, however, is am I actually helping this person grow as an artist.

Teaching has never been my bag. I have a really short fuse (which I’m learning to bring under control as far as work is concerned) and I have always had a hard time understanding why some people just don’t get it. Yet here I am, presented with a situation where I can really reach out to someone. . .someone whose shoes I’ve been in. I’ve needed someone to pick me up by the bootstraps and point me in the right direction, creatively, in the recent past. ..and  I’m eternally greatful to that person for reconnecting me with the part of my brain that I know is capable of seeing things, solving problems, making the world more beautiful from a designerly perspective. I want to be that person for the one I’m charged with helping. I guess I really need to ask her if what I’m providing is helping her. Give her a call and say “hey, am I getting through to you at all, because I feel like I’m not sure if you’re taking what I’m giving and thinking of using it beyond this ad or that ad. . .” I’m trying to provide tools to help her grow as an artist, and I’m not sure if she’s wanting to use them or if she’s just applying my suggestions as duct tape to the current problem at hand and moving on to the next problem as a clean slate, completely forgetting that she’s got a shelf full of tools at her disposal. It’s beginning to frustrate me a bit, but it’s making me realize that creativity isn’t necessarily something that can be taught. It’s something that can definitely be sparked, though, and that’s why I’m not giving up in my quest to really get through to this individual . . .who I know has it in her to achieve more and move onto the next level with her work. Maybe I have it in me to teach after all. . .I just need the right pupil to prove it to me.




2 thoughts on “can creativity be taught, or is it an innate quality?

  1. As you can imagine, I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, but I think your last line sums it all up. You had a great foundation and you were in a place where you wanted someone to pull you up by the boostraps. In fact, I don’t think you required much pulling at all. You observed, made a choice and pushed yourself. You were the right pupil but that’s because it was your doing. You were aware. I don’t think the person you are trying to teach really wants it. Willing? Maybe. Desire? No. Just no interest. THAT is the type or person that is impossible to help grow in any fashion.

  2. @bergeresque
    I think what bothers me most about the situation is that this is someone who has to be creative for a living and just finished a degree…I know I can’t perform miracles, but just a little spark. . .is that too much to ask?

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