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March 23, 2005

Creativity and Artistry

As a webmaster/web designer I create a lot of web pages. In fact, the last time I heard, the University of Minnesota Libraries have over 60,000 web pages on our servers. How many of these have I created? I don't know, but I'm sure it is a fair number of them. However, even though I do this for a living, even though I create web pages everyday, I do not consider myself a "creator," or to be more specific: an artist. I am a thief. I see things I like on the web and I steal and modify them for my purposes. In essence, I am at the mercy of other people's creativity.

We are going through a "brand identity" project right now at the U of M Libraries. An internationally known, Minneapolis-based design firm is helping us create a unique brand that we can use for all aspects of our communication with the "outside." This includes a logo, graphics and layout for a library magazine, stationary design, and of course web site/page design. I am excited about this. Watching people create, watching true artists mold and shape all this different media is a wonder to behold. It is humbling, but at the same time it is invigorating to see people do things that they are really good at, especially when it comes to creativity and artistry.

This Monday we went out to lunch with members of the design firm, including the president of the firm himself. We went to Nami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis. Usually I would not seek out a restaurant like this, especially one that is known for sushi, but I'm glad I was talked into it this time. It was wonderful. Good atmosphere and good food. Anyway, as we were sitting there at the table I noticed the president of the design firm tear off a piece of paper from his chopsticks wrapper. As he continued to talk, laugh, and entertain he began to fold the paper. I don't even think he knew he was doing it. I never saw him look down at it. Suddenly, before I knew it, he had folded the paper into a swan. I was stunned. It was beautiful. I almost asked him for it! Needless to say, I was very impressed.


It got me to thinking: what am I so good at that I can create something without even thinking about it? Specifically, is there anything that I am good at that I could create something with effortless artistry? Something beautiful that other people can appreciate? And it doesn't have to be art in the narrow sense. Could I write a short piece of music? Could I grow a flower? Could I make a beautiful spaceship out of Legos, or even clean my garage so as to be both aesthetically pleasing and an efficient storage place? I'm probably not expressing myself well, but I don't know. After I saw someone so effortlessly create a swam out of paper I asked myself, "Can I do anything like that?" And I have to answer, "I don't know." How upsetting.

So, I have decided to start looking for the things that I am good at. Things that I can create "art" through and be happy in/with. I want to be able to create and do so effortlessly. The thing is, I'm sure I already do. I just need to start recognizing it.

Sorry to ramble on. This has just been on my mind for a couple of days.

Posted by snackeru at March 23, 2005 12:32 PM | Life


Look no further than your children. You created them and continue to create paths for them to follow. Be good at that. That's all that counts.

Posted by: Brian Maas at March 23, 2005 1:43 PM

Thanks Brian. You are right, of course, but raising kids is not "effortless" by any stretch of the imagination. It is true, though, that I should focus my energy towards this endevour. Nothing is more important.

Posted by: Shane at March 23, 2005 3:20 PM

Ah, the key word being "effortless". Well then, those are the things that you do well every day and take for granted not really knowing you do them well. Like waking up at 5 AM to let the dogs out without ever turning on a light or opening your eyes ;0

Posted by: Brian Maas at March 23, 2005 9:45 PM

You effortlessly spend hours writing about stadiums and how wonderful it would be to have them. If only more people felt that way.

Posted by: Dianna at March 24, 2005 6:14 AM

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