Untitled — Jim Chatelain

I Started Interviewing People About Creativity — Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

A little over four months ago I realized that I’d never truly spoken to my father about making stuff. You see, while my father and I are extremely similar in many ways, we’re very different in the types of things we make and how our creativity finds itself into the world. My father is a painter/sculptor/artist and I’m a strategist/technologist/consultant. And while our talents manifest themselves very differently I began to realize that our creative outlook might not be as far apart as I suspected.

I have to admit, the desire to speak with my father about creativity also came from the fact that lately I’ve been much less interested in people who tend to call themselves ‘Creatives’ and much more interested in people who creatively solve problems or express emotions. And to be even more honest, I’ve started to worry that my time working in technology and digital agencies has distorted my view of creativity and the output/value of a creative person.

So I interviewed my father about making things. For 50+ mins we talked through a mish-mash of topics and situations, finding common ground and learning new things about each other and I have to admit….it was totally fantastic.

And so I kept interviewing people, a couple more painters, some makers, a couple musicians, a builder, a technologist, and along the way I learned a bunch of wonderful stuff, I’ve included a couple highlights below:

  1. All good makers are iterating. Each person or discipline calls it something different; tinkering, trying stuff, changing keys, etc. And often only they can see, when others can not, what is or isn’t quite right. But everyone is adjusting and iterating and each time we change something we sacrifice some of the original concept for it’s hopefully new bright future. And we all worry that this new direction we’ve given might ruin the whole original concept.
  2. ‘The Zone’ happens across every discipline. I don’t think I realized this when I started out on this journey but I totally believe in it now. ‘The Zone’ is just a place where puzzle pieces click, where synapses fire, where the world slows down and solutions seem more obvious. For 99.9% of the world this happens outside of professional sports and I would wager for most of us it happens when we’re thinking creatively.
  3. We’re all trying to build depth in our creations. Be it for lengthier experiences, more stimulating reactions, or challenging a viewer/user. We’re all trying to figure out depth, usually to achieve a different goal, but always to create something with meaning.
  4. My dad wants people to LAUGH at his paintings. Holy Shit. I never thought that anyone would want me to laugh at their painting but now it makes so much sense. To think that I always wondered how my father coped with all the annoyingly serious people in the art world, when in reality he was playing am elaborate joke on them.

I’m still not sure what I’ll do with all the interviews I’ve done so far but I know that I’ll continue talking and recording conversations with makers, creators and interesting people. If you’re a creative of any type and want to chat please do reach out, I’d love to talk with you. Also, feel free to listen to the full interview I did with my father below and let me know your thoughts on creativity in the comments.

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