on creativity

Wabi-Sabi by Yo Spiff
Wabi-Sabi, a photo by Yo Spiff on Flickr.

I've been asked some questions and want to think about them for about a week before I turn in my answers.   I've just jotted down some initial notes, but I'd love to hear what any of you have to say.

How do you define creativity?


What is the ideal creative environment?

some space, some discomfort, some solitude, some community

Who do you consider creative?

japanese masters of wabi-sabi
aya brackett
creative growth
jen causey
the voracity
italian grandmothers
wendell berry
chad robertson
amaryll schwertner
dave eggers
nigel slater


  1. I like to think of creativity as the thrilling feeling of coming up with a solution to a problem where there is no guarantee that one exists. Finding your way up a rock wall, thinking of just the right word, and cooking, of course, all qualify as creative endeavors. I started thinking about it this way after reading a New Yorker profile of a famous chess player, and wrote about it here: http://differentkindofhuman.blogspot.com/2011/03/chess-infinity.html

  2. To me, creativity is a process to deal with constraints. I'm less impressed by a chef using a chemical or additive, or using liquid nitrogen, than I am by someone who can find a way to make fresh local inexpensive ingredients appealing to both kids and adults.

  3. I'm the most creative when I'm with other creative people. A good friend of mine from college and I used to talk all the time about books we had read or movies we had seen, or ideas that we couldn't work through on our own. I always felt like I was smarter with her than with just myself, because she was the perfect combination of challenge and acceptance, and through our conversations, I figured stuff out that I don't think I could have on my own.

    Also: The Voracity is amazing.

  4. please remember two more important elements that could spawn creativity. reality and simplicity, each can lead to creativity.