How do we amplify creativity?

Creative Animation of Two Elephants.

Recap of Adobe Creative Cloud event

‘How Do We Amplify Creativity?’ is adapted from my talk for Adobe’s Creative Cloud Events. This blog post is the third and last of the series on Amplifying Creativity that started with How I Started Business with Storytelling and Technology as a Tool for Creativity.

We’ve uncovered creating meaning through story and enriching creative with technology.

Many creatives maximise their talent by maximising their craft. It’s easy to see why we’d want to become experts. The world loves a good expert, when we need something done well, an expert will do it best, whether you’re an editor, designer, animator, or photographer.

But does being an expert amplify creativity or compress it?

Remember that open brief I gave you from Adobe?

How many of you would solve that brief using your own craft? But most importantly how many of you would believe that it would be the right and best solution for Adobe?

A lot of what makes us experts in our craft is because it becomes second nature. A lot of what was difficult and slow as a novice is now automated. You think less about what you’re doing, because you know how to do it so well.

It creeps up as a confirmation bias, where the more we believe something, the less evidence we need to think what we believe is right, and the more we need to believe we’re wrong.

Right to his end, even Einstein tried to disprove quantum theory, because it didn’t agree with his belief of how the universe worked, despite all the scientific evidence disagreeing with him. To him quantum theory was too “creative” of an idea that it has to be wrong.

If we can swallow that knowing too much limits how creative we’re willing to be, is knowing nothing really that creative or inspirational? I mean kids seem pretty creative? But I don’t see them winning any nobel prizes.

So, like Socrates, lets put knowledge on one end and ignorance on the other. And let’s call everything in between belief. Belief that something’s possible, and belief we could be wrong.

Where do you sit on this scale as a creative? Where can we know enough to create, yet not enough to still be creative? I think this is what being a new creative is about and I think the T-Shape Creative has a great model.

Meet Liam and Nicky, one’s our best front end developer and the other’s our best 2D animator. They both take confidence in collaborating and contributing to projects because one, they’re not competing, two, they have a deep knowledge of their specialty which is where their confidence to contribute and create comes from.

But they amplify their creativity through the skills they know least about. Liam knows a little about animation, he’s not going to be applying for Pixar tomorrow. The power here lies in his knowledge, enough to imagine what might be possible and most important what might be possible as a front end developer. Even better, he knows enough about animation to communicate meaningfully with Nicky in the first place.

I think the T-Shaped Creative is a great model for new creatives. It’s a great mix of respect for knowledge and a respect for ignorance. The only way it’s amplified is when we work together, it lets you amplify what you do know with what you don’t know.

This collaborative power is the only way we can try things we don’t know are possible. It’s the only way I’ve been able to tell the most important stories I’ve needed to tell. After last years Vivid, we were lucky enough to be invited back.

Around the same time, my grandmother was starting to forget who I was. Alzheimer’s began to take her away from us. So seeing us without a sponsor, we decided to tell her story, and to do it has taken the combined efforts of a large team of new creatives who have never done anything like this before.

Affinity is an interactive sculpture that represents the human brain. As you walk around it you can hear memories coming out of the neurons around you. As you touch a neuron, the memories spring to life in colour and sound, filling sculpture with vibrant life.

As the night progresses, a dark purple shade appears and slowly spreads across the network. Once it reaches the memories in each neuron they are deleted from the sculpture forever. The best thing about the collaboration of this team is that it resulted in Alzheimer’s Australia jumping on board to help raise awareness for the disease.

It’s always awe inspiring how people who call themselves, musicians, programmers, or glue technicians can be so creative outside their craft.

A famous classmate of Adobe’s founder said:

Craft is what’s expected of us, it's the unexpected use of our craft that creates art.

And the best way to do that is to empower what you do know, with what you don’t know.

Don’t forget to check out the other articles in this series:

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