Being creative

Lilya Brik shown editing film in 1928.
Lilya Brik shown editing film in 1928. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent most of my working life doing the same sort of work in different settings. My first real job was as a photographic printer. I worked in a small studio for two groovy commercial photographers who did a range of advertising work. I was not only the printer, but also the delivery girl, receptionist and lunch getter. I may have even done the invoicing. I remember that one of the photographers spent most of his time in between jobs stripping down a rather large motorbike in the middle of the studio. It made a lot of mess.

I was queen of the darkroom on those days. I chose the best shots from a roll of film, developed and printed them and delivered the best of the best to the agency.  I was seventeen at the time. Later I worked in London as a colour printer. I had one client who was a big shot in the art world. He took photos of famous art works and my job was to reproduce these as colour prints that matched as closely as possible to the originals. One night we went to a famous private gallery after it had closed so that I could colour match the sample prints to the originals. It was a lot of fun.

My next job was in film editing. At the beginning there was not a lot of creativity or discretion, but as time went on I was able to make decisions about shots that worked and select music that brought things to life.

More recently I have worked as an educator, writer and presentation designer.

I have also done some training and coaching along the way, but despite my background, I persist with the idea that I am not terribly creative. Weird isn’t it? How many people get the chance to write and edit presentations and documents and get paid for it? What exactly does it take for someone to imagine themselves as a creative person?

Every day I hear people telling me that they can’t come up with ideas because they are ‘not creative’. If only they realised that the difference between a creative person and a ‘not very creative’ person is merely self-perception.

I know that my work has not been about coming up with original ideas for new films or books or web designs, but I honestly think that my decisions have been creative in their own small way. I think of myself as a backroom creative rather than one of those ‘out there’ types. More to the point, I think that it’s entirely possible that you are also quite a creative person and you’ve just undersold yourself.

I’ve been doing a little bit of an experiment at work. I’ve been pretending that I’m creative in an effort to see if the idea takes off. And amazingly it is! People have actually starting saying ‘you have lots of good ideas and that’s alright for you, but I’m not really that creative’. I find it hilarious. If only they knew that I’m not really that creative, I’m just pretending. The weird part is that the longer I pretend, the more prone I am to imagining that I am creative in my own little way.

If this strikes a chord with you, consider re-imagining yourself as a creative person.  I know that you probably feel a bit shy about commenting but I would really love to hear from you.

6 thoughts on “Being creative

  1. Hi Margaret – thanks for your thoughts on re-imagination. I believe this is something we all have to do constantly, or we risk arguing for our limitations. I love your positivity. You give ‘good vibes’. I’ve seen your name (also mine of course) credited on some Australian films and it’s great that we are in contact. For my next trick I’m doing a Visual Arts degree through Open Uni. Seems like fun at present although there is a lot of time spent sitting at the PC. I think I’ll have to get a new chair!

    1. That’s really exciting news. good on you for taking on something new. I’m sure it will be stimulating. I am doing a graphic design degree through CSU (Charles Sturt University for those of you who don’t live in Australia). It’s hard work but I did get a credit for Graphic Design Fundamentals this semester. I am gradually becoming friends with Photoshop but there’s a lot to learn. As you so rightly say, the biggest challenge is overcoming self doubt which can be absolutely paralysing if you let it. I do find the sitting down to be an issue, especially after a long day sitting at work, so sometimes I work standing up and I take lots of breaks of course! Good luck with your course next year. I would love to know how it’s going to do keep in touch.


  2. Well you learn something every day. What an interesting CV you have! I am going to start thinking positive creative thoughts today and see if it works.

    1. Sometimes when I look at my CV I feel quite old and other days I feel really lucky that I have had such interesting work. The only boring job I have ever had was working in a shoe shop for three days. Your CV is likely to be just as interesting and varied. Just think of all the wonderful exhibitions you have created in your work and all the lives you have had an impact on. I hope that the positive thinking works for you. I’m pretty sure it will.

  3. Lovely to hear you finally acknowledge your own creativity, have always insisted you are.
    For me, at the moment, my creativity at work comes out as experiments in better ways to communicate results and and therefore resolving issues for a client.

    It seems that often we persist in doing things the same way because it makes sense to us or has always been done that way, despite multiple responses that make it clear that the intended resipient, whether client, team mate or boss don’t understand.

    1. Thanks for your comments Katie. I agree that creativity is largely about exploring new or different options, so I guess it’s largely about being brave. So go bravely forward and have a creative day!

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