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Recently I’ve been seriously thinking about the process of creation, the nature of creativity.

Where does it come from?

Whats it for?

How does it feel???

Not so much the act of creating itself, but everything that leads up to and underlies it. Leaving aside questions of fine art vs crafts vs galleries vs internet communities etc., so far my thoughts have run something like this:

All Creation starts with an Urge, the Urge to create. Even creations that are made for a commission are inherently grounded in this Urge, they start there. Many artists talk about the need to make art, as though it was as necessary as breathing, and almost as automatic in some cases, which is a good illustration of the existence of this Urge to Create. Other than artists, though, you’ve got creative people everywhere, who decorate their home, cook interesting things, write beautiful letters, say interesting things… all these acts are creative when they too are rooted in the Urge to create.

Every act of creation starts with this Urge, and this is true even in the case of commissioned work for several reasons, of which I shall mention two: firstly, an individual will be offered a commission because they express this Urge normally, and will accept because they can feel the Urge to create (except in cases where it is done purely for money, in which case its not truly creation, but even then the individual has chosen that method of making money, presumably, because they feel the Urge to create, otherwise they’d have chosen a different path). Secondly, the individual will only be able to start work on the piece when they have that Urge, when it rises in them and gives them something to work with.

This Urge is bodily, anyone who has felt it can tell you how it grips the muscles, makes your fingers itch to type, to mould, to paint, how your face responds to the feeling, how your stomach begins to feel tight… there are any number of ways you can feel it. A physical Urge to make physical manifestations. It unsettles you until you give in and find an outlet.

Sometimes, as when a creation feels like a response to an inspiration, it looks like the act of creation starts with an idea, but in fact that idea is part of what shapes the Urge as it becomes Expression through Creation. An inspiration may provide an outlet for the Urge, but in itself it does not initiate the act, otherwise we would have a great deal more creations floating around.

This Urge has to move through various Resistances before it can be acted upon. Internal Resistances include the skills of the individual, their beliefs and hang-ups and preferences around creativity, all things which, thankfully, get in the way of pure expression: thankfully because pure expression would simply be a formless mess. Our Resistances give shape to  the Urge as it wells up and tries to move outwards in Expression. External Resistances also play a part, from the availability of time, space and materials, to the cultural limits and expectations around the individual, our form of Expression is shaped.

And at the same time there are Influences. Influences in and and the individual: elements which shape the form the Expression will take, including visual input, inspirations, the brief of a commission, the individual’s favourite mediums and styles, memories and experiences and so on.

All these things combine in Expression driven by the Urge.

The Urge rises, is forged by the Resistances, Influenced by the feelings, ideas, memories and inspirations of the individual, and it flows out of the person as an Expression which carries all these things.

At this point you have work, concentration, skill and so on, all going into creating whatever is being created. But where does the Urge to Create come from in the first place???

It seems to me that the Urge to Create is rooted in the Urge to Life. Every living thing has something we call a survival instinct, every healthy human drives towards life, longs to live, and will fight to stay alive. But living is more than just surviving, to live is to affirm your existence, to express that you are alive, and who and what you are. This Urge to live, to express, comes out in some people in the Urge to Create. Creation is a form of Expression, and, as evidenced by the joy we gain from creating, sharing creations, and admiring other’s creations, it is a remarkably social expression for something that is so personal.

Creation, then, is a form of expression which involves making something manifest, although the kind of thing it must manifest to be creation is a question for another time. It is social, and personal, shaped by personal make-up and circumstances and desires and yet speaking to others of something shared.

What do you think? How does creation feel to you?