Where does Creativity come from?

My Personal Take on How to Generate Fresh Ideas

I loathe my time in an art class. My parents, having seen my passion for art decided that if I wanted pursue art, I should further hone my skills. Therefore I was pushed in an academy for visual arts where I was taught “art”. The “art” demanded perfection in every aspect. It may be the strict environment that I was in and the way I was taught but I felt that the art classes were killing my creativity instead of enhancing it. This got me thinking, so what does make a creative environment?

Looking back at my experience as a designer and drawing from the readings, creativity can spawn from two areas, the people you are around and the physical environment you are in.


In the article The Day You Became A Better Designer, Tobias van Schneider introduces us to the psychological concept of the “confirmation bias” where by hanging out with people with the same beliefs, it makes us comfortable and draws us to stick with the same bubble. Schneider states that instead what you should do is to immerse yourself to the uncomfortable that way you can gain an outside perspective. Although he did not state specifically that this is a route to being more creative, I think it applies just as much. Gaining new knowledge and connecting it back to your domain can lead to new inspirations and can generate new ideas.

For me, I usually immersive myself both groups of non-designers and designers. I noticed that when I speak to non-designers, they often talk about the end goal. While talking to designers, it is more about the increments and process needed to reach the end goal. Non-designers set the roads in place while designers follow the roads.

“What is important about talking to people is that they often challenge your wild ideas and make it tangible. Having conversations are crucial in exploration.”

Physical Environment

In the reading Time to Re-Think Design Thinking, Olof Schybergson touches upon the importance of having an open and flexible space. He stresses that physical space plays an importance in engaging with the body and the mind. As well it should promote learning, play and collaboration with one another. Although I agree with Schybergson, I believe that the relationship between creativity and physical space can depend on a person to person basis.

Cleanliness of the physical environment can affect creativity as well. One example would be the cleanliness of your desk. Brilliant minds like Einstein, Zuckerberg and Twain all had chaotic workspaces rather than tidy. Does this mean that there is a correlation between a messy environment and the mind? Many psychologist say that there is, and that it has a social purpose. Cleanliness is often what everyone strives for, it is socially constructed to be next to godliness. A messy environment breaks the social standard and symbolizes the thought of not afraid to try something new. Therefore a messy environment can spur creativity.

Albert Einstein’s Desk
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” — Albert Einstein

As a kinetic learner, I like to move around a lot when I work. I cannot be in one environment for a long period of time or else it creates a mental block in my head. You can find me switching from the bed, to the desk, in the kitchen, and in public areas. There is no specific type of environment that dictates my creativity. I do have a desk and I never clean it. I prefer to work in a messy environment because psychological it makes me feel like I am part of a larger collective. A tidy desk in contrast makes me feel like I am alone like I am a solo act performing on stage.

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