Rounding out the month, I want to finally draw attention to, what I feel is the biggest misconception among people regarding what it means to be a creative, and probably one of the biggest reasons most people don’t believe they are creative; the division that actually exists, but is often overlooked when equating creativity to artistry.
Today I want to look at the contrast between the two because they are not the same, although artists, artistry and artistic skill are all rooted in creativity, creativity itself is not inherently artistic.
Creativity: The Inclusive Stroke of Magic
Problem solving, ingenuity, innovations, entrepreneurship, fanfiction, cosplay, fine arts, carpentry, cooking, baking, content creation, writing, photography, music; all of these are creative pursuits, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Creativity has curiosity and appreciation at its core. The need to create is innate, exercising imagination for fantasy or coming up with wild solutions to practical problems, creativity is part of who we are as human beings. From early ages we tell and enjoy story - sometimes those stories may be lies we tell to get out of trouble, or make-believe we play with others, but telling stories and developing narratives is a fundamental coping strategy we use to make sense of and sometimes escape the world around us. How we understand ourselves and our world is through creativity, through learning and reaching and searching for understanding, reason and meaning in our environment.
Trying something new, the desire to explore, the need to change are all ways we are all creative each and every day. Our world is made up entirely of people’s creative innovation and ingenuity - how do you think we ever invented anything, developed philosophies or made new discoveries? Someone imagined a way to communicate with someone hundreds of miles away - beginning with fire signals and eventually the telephone - it was creative, unheard of and a solution to a real life need. We also have statues carved from stone, beautiful and imposing, sometimes with a message, sometimes to be admired only, but created nonetheless by someone with the same amount of creativity and vision as the Wright brothers creating the first airplane.
Infrastructure, engineering, chemistry and physics, all are examples of the everyday creative power of humans that defies the suggestion of artistry. Keeping our understanding of what creativity can mean makes it inaccessible, keeps it small and powerless in society at large, and that is a disservice to our very nature as living conduits for creative exploration.
Artistry: The Exploration of Emotion from Creative Foundations
Artistry can be found in creators of art, the pieces themselves and those that execute the vision of others. Artistry is reserved for the feeling or the expression of self and emotion through art mediums such as painting, drawing, writing, dancing, choreography, song, music, etc… However, it is also the signature voice or style an artist becomes known for. Writers have unique voices - ways they phrase things, words they choose; painters have brush strokes and styles; sculptors have materials and techniques unique to them. Found most often in the concept of a piece or the crafting itself, artistry is the emotion expressed through the piece, unique to the artist whole conceptualizes and also the one who executes.
Take dance for example; the choreographer’s steps and concept are their artistic signature - the look they want is the base and the responsibility of the dancer to execute, however, the Swan Lake steps have been performed many times by many principle dancers and the essence of what they bring to the character, the steps, the production is their artistry mingling with that of the choreographer. Don’t even get me started with the artistry of the musicians and conductor - we will be here for a week.
Creativity may be at the core of artistry, but what the artist brings to the table, what they give of themselves to the work and the what and how they express that through their execution is what artistry truly is. Art itself is exploring perspective, beauty, life, mimicking what we see and adding the layer of feeling to a space where we can acknowledge and interact with that feeling in a new way, perhaps for the first time. If creativity is doing, artistry is performing. It is an exclusive experience that can be shared with all who witness it, but is an art all its own cultivated by few.
The power of Contrast
To my mind artistry is a barrier used to keep creativity from really evolving as an accepted part of the human condition. Artistry is a huge part of what I do and my experience in the realm of creativity, but as I have been able to explore content creation and fanfiction and the world of D&D, it has become clear that artistry and art itself i not the essence of creativity, rather creativity is the essence of the human condition, which artistry strives to represent in its truest form.
Connected but not the same, creativity and artistry gain more depth and nuance when contrasted against each other, and they become enriched by the comparison.