The Creative Process

The ancient Greeks believed that creativity was bestowed upon artists and poets from higher, otherworldly beings. These spiritual guides, or Muses, were seen as the bearers of creativity’s divine spark and the ultimate source of inspiration to those who were open to receiving them. Within contemporary society the ‘myth of the muse’ has remained entrenched. Counter to this idea author James Taylor argues that many people lack a basic creativity is in fact a process that can be cultivated.

In order to challenge the narrow view of creativity as being somehow innate rather than a skill that can be developed,
I have investigated and interrogated creativity and the creative process within the field of design. Specifically, I have asked: What is creativity? How does it work? Where do ideas come from? And, where do ideas reside once they make themselves known?

As a starting point to these investigations I have researched a large variation of theories, including; Edward deBono, Jonathan Tilley, Gregg Fraley, Stephan Hall, Tim Harford, David Burkus and Dustin Timbrook, all of whom have challenged the subject of creativity and the creative process. I have also explored various case studies regarding creative processes within the field of graphic design such as, Graphic Design Process by Skolos Wedell.

Concept & Process
Having situated myself within the discourse via both primary and secondary research, I have undertaken a practice-led study of creativity and the creative process by following my own and 7 other strategies and recommended design methodologies of well-known designers. These include: Stephan Sagmeister, Mella Hammer, Skolos Wedell, Michel Bouvet, Ed Fella, Cyrus Highsmith, Ralph Schraivogel.

In terms of the subject matter I have selected a ‘baseline’ topic as a point of comparison for testing these methodologies. In doing so I have drawn on Industrial Designer Balder Onarheim’s 2014 TEDxTalk ‘3 tools to Become More Creative’ where he advocates the importance of ‘randomness’ in creative thinking. In particular, he outlined using Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ link as a useful tool in generating random connections and associations for problem solving. The result: ‘Stout Metal Airplane’

The aim of this project is to gain a greater understanding of the concept of creativity and the creative process through a practice-led approach and in doing so, giving others a point of reference to unlock their own creative potential.


Design Outcome

publication design

Within this practice-led study of creativity and the creative process, one thing kept coming back. The creative process is one big mess, in doing one thing you can jump back and forth to another. There is no right or wrong way in approaching a problem which is in need of a creative solution. The main thing is that all these processes just let you see a subject from a different perspective that lead to different creative insights and outcomes. In order to show the importance of the creative process, I have burned all the final outcomes and brought them together in a transparent jar, illustrating the creative process and the mess that is going on within our minds.

To support this abstract object I made a visual collection of all the creative processes I have undertaken and brought them together in a printed publication.