Conditions of Creativity

A few months ago, I committed to a small experiment. My oldest daughter really wanted her own “art studio.” So we worked together and cleared out the space in the basement, then built her a studio. We went shopping for art supplies, and I basically said “yes” to everything. I didn’t question what she wanted things for, I let her get things just because she thought they were neat. I didn’t make her pre-plan specific projects or even commit to specific art styles.

I just helped her create a space very conducive to her creativity (lots of fun decorations, chalkboards, funky lights, easels, workbenches, etc.) and filled it with the supplies to create. I avoided any of the stereotypical “parent talk” like “now that I bought you all that stuff, I expect you to take it seriously and blah blah blah.” I didn’t turn it into a chore of any kind.

I just created the conditions for creativity. As an additional layer, I also made it her most “free” space – she has to keep her room very clean and organized, but I’m fine with her having a messy art studio as long as it doesn’t get ridiculous.

The end result: she spends enormous amounts of time in there. She creates things constantly – things I’d never have imagined. She paints pictures, but she also makes videos of herself producing fantastically-colored slimes with instructions on how to make them for other kids. She’s started painting old Tupperware containers with bright acrylic paints, turning them into wonderous castles and vessels. She makes tiny animals out of clay.

She creates. She learns, and she explores, and then she talks about that creation – she has a passion, and she shares it with me constantly.

Take the training wheels off – of everything. Create the conditions under which the things you want can manifest, and then let them do so. Put yourself in front of a notebook, put your employees in a room with great tools, put your friends in a room with musical instruments and good acoustics. Watch what happens.

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