What is creativity?

It’s 10 A.M on a Monday. I’ve just gotten back from the gym, where I showered and got dressed to get the day started. I sit behind my desk, turn on my computer, and sign in to check my email. I see that I am assigned a new task: to design a logo for a new client and spend no more than 2 hours coming up with an initial draft. I shoot my supervisor a message to ask about the details of this project. What does the website look like? Is there a color preference? When should I send this in by?

After gathering the essential information, I plugged in my headphones to my computer, blasted my music, and got to work. I started by doing a little research on the field that the client worked in, and after several minutes of reading and learning about the field, I got to drawing.

I reached for my logo sketchbook sitting on the corner of my desk along with a sharpened pencil, and I started brainstorming. After about half an hour of sketching, the creative block started to set in. I had reached a point in the creative process where I couldn’t come up with good, creative content. So I reached for my computer again and I started looking at similar logos.

After just 10 minutes of looking through a good amount of logos, I came up with the ultimate idea. This “idea” became the option that the client would choose later that week as their trademark.

It may seem pretty self-explanatory, but having the option to look at other designers’ made it so much quicker to work and create new content than not having any aid whatsoever. However, is this a clear presentation of creativity?

In a 2013 research study done by Michigan State University, the authors took a new approach to defining what creativity is. They define creativity as a “goal driven process of developing solutions that are novel, effective, and whole.” Reading this had me asking myself if I have truly been creative. If I am using other designers work as a source of inspiration, to spark creativity within myself, to what degree am I actually being creative? Based on the criteria that the authors have provided in this article, my work has always been whole and effective, and I certainly have never used someone else’s designs, but can using other peoples’ work for inspiration considered novel or fresh? What is the definition of a novel solution? Over the next several weeks, I will be attempting to answer this question (along with the many other questions) as I interview other graphic designers in the D.C area in the search see how noise affects their work process.

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