“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Steve Jobs, Wired, February, 1996
Pretty great quote. An additional thing that came to mind after reading this was the importance of the question or the problem to solve. The quality of that is the foundation for good ideas. Sometimes it’s a creative brief, or more purely, a desire to communicate a feeling or perspective. That is another discussion though, and the following thoughts, as they exist in this instant only, are what can be done if one possesses that thing. I have the problem, so what do can I do now?
Work with divine inspiration.
The best experience one can find. I think it is important to note, however, that this is illusive. It is contigent on what you got in your bag and how willing you are to cater to the Muse. Many a great songwriter fight here, and I thought this story was pretty indicative of real player’s effort:
I remember Paul McCartney saying something about how many of his favorite songs were started by just trying to emulate a tune, and through the process of getting things he was comfortable playing and singing, it inevitably became something else. I think having a good client problem to solve before the pillaging, one that is well defined and intrinsictly their own, can allow for something new to form. You hold their issue in your mind and then get to finding inspiration in others work makes you pull elements together, rather than just mimicking something. Trouble occurs when you don’t ask, “This is sweet, what if I found a different image and used my favorite font, etc.” Shazam, mine now!
Find a process.
Ahhhhh. This is where the real freaks shine. I know this loops back up to letting something hit you, but it definitely feels like a different experience. This is the craft part, and can avoid a lot of tears. Doing some digging on your favorites is quite an experience. It is the method and thing one can do to get going. David Bowie has grocery sacks of words on torn up pieces of paper, which leads to my favorite: lists. Again, completely propped up by a good question…success demands it.
And here are some extra links on the foundation of these processes:
reference for more tricks as they apply to subjects: