Big c and little c creativity: everyday creative experience
Posted Jan 14 2010 9:19pm
Art can be insulated and considered as precious – something only official artists do. In her book “Revolution From Within” Gloria Steinem notes that “most art in the world does not have a capital ‘A,’ but is a way of turning everyday objects into personal expressions.”
Steinem encourages creating images or objects as a way to gain a more intimate understanding and fuller expression of who we are, and declares “Creativity is most likely to come from intrinsic interest, not external reward; from a desire to express the true self.”
Professor Dean Keith Simonton explains that “official” art or “big C creativity” involves the ability “to generate new ideas, generate some kind of product that’s going to have some kind of impression on other people.
“It may be a poem, a patent, a short story, a journal article… a concrete, discrete product that is original and serves some kind of adaptive function.”
But most people – and the majority of us are not official “Artists” – make use all the time of “little c” creativity which is, Simonton says, “creativity in everyday life, solving everyday problems. And that kind of creativity is very closely related to intelligence because intelligence includes, as part of it, problem-solving abilities.”
In her Psychology Today article on this topic, Carlin Flora describes how our self concept, and whether we think we are creative, impacts how we may think about our talents.
Here is an excerpt :
“When we think of creativity, we think of Mozart, Picasso, Einstein—people with a seemingly fated convergence of talent and opportunity. It’s too narrow a set of references, because the truth is that all sorts of people, possessing various levels of intelligence and natural ability, are capable of engaging in fulfilling creative processes.
“Just because you’ll never be Brando or Balanchine doesn’t mean that you can’t harness your idea-generating powers and make your life your own masterpiece.”
A concrete example
“Some do so every day. Pete Herzog noticed that his three kids rarely drove the expensive battery-powered toy car he had bought them for Christmas because it was always out of juice.
“One afternoon he spotted a broken solar-powered garden lamp rolling around and took off its panels. He hooked them to the toy-car battery, using parts he melted off the lamp’s circuit board. Now the car, left to bake in the sun all day, is always ready for joyrides.
Herzog is director of the Institute for Security and Open Methodologies, a nonprofit dedicated to researching how security works in all aspects of our lives. His job requires him to think like a top-notch computer hacker. So it’s not surprising that he can solve nagging problems in his own backyard.
“But he doesn’t think of himself as a creative person!
“Buying into a limited definition of creativity prevents many from appreciating their own potential.”
Many ways you can be creative
She notes “you can build up your innovative abilities in many ways—by doing things (noticing details in your midst, wearing your hair in a new style) that don’t sound intimidatingly ingenious.
“You can simply get to know your personal problem-solving style—everybody shines at different stages of the process; understanding where you fit in gives you a big advantage.
“And perhaps most important is adjusting your overall attitude toward life—approach your experiences with an open mind and cultivate the belief that possibilities and solutions are always within reach, and you’ll be equipped to handle any challenge with flair.”
Cognitive scientist Art Markman explains “Every day, we use language to speak sentences that have never been spoken before. We express thoughts that have never been expressed. All of this is so deeply ingrained that we don’t notice how creative it is.”