All of these creative achievements are nothing short of magical. These well-known masterpieces coexist with tens of thousands of other brilliant creative works that will never be heard, seen or recognized. Why is there such a disparity between the creative cultural icons of our time and the equally talented but overlooked artists and designers? Why doesn't society value creativity?
Creative people are among the most mocked and despised in society, but also among the most respected and celebrated. Our lives are significantly improved through creative work. This text will cover the problems of creativity and I will tell you about some of the solutions that I have found effective. I'm not a world-famous designer, but I'm able to choose the types of clients I want to work with, which is something most creative people would be quite happy with.
The average person simply doesn't understand the amount of thought and consideration that goes into creating a masterpiece. Consider “David,” an iconic and globally recognized sculpture by Michelangelo. If you look closely at David's eyes, you will notice that each eye is looking in two slightly different directions. His pupils are also hollowed out so that they cast darker shadows. It's not an accident. These visual tricks help make David's look intense and alive. It looks a little strange when zoomed in like that, but Michelangelo knew that people would be looking at the statue from afar and he took this into account.
There are literally thousands of decisions like this made in every great creative work, whether it's a beautiful car design, a great piece of music, or a beautiful sculpture. This is true mastery. But most people don't notice these nuances because they simply don't care. In the modern world, convenience is king. The less we understand and the less we have to think, the more successful we are considered to be. If someone drives for us, we don't have to think about driving. If someone cleans our house for us, that's a success. If we don't have to think about the little details of our lives, that's the ultimate measure of success in the modern world.
As a designer myself, my job is basically to take the hassle out of thinking when using a product I create for you. All we care about is the outcome and how it benefits us. And we are all the same, including you and me. We mindlessly scroll through Instagram and other social media sites, seeing incredible acts of skill and talent without even giving them two seconds of thought. When did you take the time to watch the credits of a film roll? Have you ever looked at the visual effects teams? Have you ever tried to figure out who that obscure actor who had a very small role was? You probably almost never do this. None of us do, because it's much easier to consume creative works than to think about them.
But at least in the case of films the person is credited. In most cases, the designer or creator is never credited for their work. Nobody knows the people behind the original iPhone, for example. Sure, you might know Steve Jobs or lead designer Johnny Ive, but what about the rest of the geniuses who made this possible?
The modern world is incredibly overwhelming, and we would all go crazy if we had to try to understand the nuance of every detail of everything. But this is a major reason why creative businesses simply aren't valued. It takes so much time and effort, and it has no direct impact on us. Our focus on convenience hides the inner workings of something, and we are actively discouraged from truly understanding and therefore appreciating great creative works.
I think you can start to see how the details behind David's gaze suddenly aren't really that valuable to us. These details are fundamental to creative work, but ultimately they don't matter to us, and this carries over to other aspects of creative output. More importantly, creative businesses are judged on scale rather than quality or merit. Most of us don't know how to evaluate creative businesses on a conceptual, philosophical, or craft level, so we really only focus on two things: how much money it made and how many people heard about it. Creativity cannot be easily measured in any other way, and it is a big problem in business or corporate settings.
Even creative people themselves don't always know what is good or bad. There's the constant problem of never knowing if your work is actually good. There's a phenomenon known as the Ikea effect, where people are willing to spend 63% more on Ikea furniture that they put together themselves, even if it's poorly constructed. We tend to like our own ideas more than those of others, which makes it really difficult to evaluate the quality of our own work. I might consider this a spectacular masterpiece because my friend Jack and I made it when we were kids, but I'm not sure of its real value to anyone else.
With most other career fields, you're solving a real-world problem. With design or art, this can be the case, but not always. There are a lot of intangibles. Any new idea you present, whether revolutionary or terrible, is going to get the same reaction: ridicule. Our default reaction to anything new that we don't know how to respond to is to scoff at it. It's so hard to tell if you're on the verge of something great or if you're wasting your time, which is a real problem with radical creative works.
Even the iPhone, one of the most iconic product designs of our time, was never a guaranteed success. It's easy to look back at the original iPhone now and see why it would be successful, but it wasn't so clear when it initially launched. Five hundred dollars was the most expensive phone in the world and it didn't appeal.
It’s likely that we would appreciate creativity and craftsmanship more as a society if we were truly encouraged to understand them. It's not that surprising that creativity isn't valued, but it gets even more complicated. Solving an open-ended design problem or creating an artistic masterpiece is like trying to solve a puzzle, except all the puzzle pieces are black, the puzzle has no beginning or end, and some of the pieces that are essential to seeing the whole picture are hidden in strange places. Some are in sofa cushions, others are at the top of a tree, still others are on the edge of
Faced with these challenges, the solution for creatives is perseverance and constant innovation.
Like Prince or LCD Soundsystem, who overcame difficult beginnings to achieve fame, creatives must continue to create, experiment and share their work.
It is essential to recognize the intrinsic value of creation.
Whether the work is globally recognized or not, it has fundamental importance for the creator. It is in this act of creation that true self-affirmation and contribution to a better world reside.