It seems that creativity is a much bigger part of everyone’s make up than was first thought.
Creativity has been with us for a very very long time. Recent discoveries of cave art in the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, have transformed ideas of not only how long, but how widespread ‘Art’ and early creative thought really was, as well as destroying previously held Euro-Centric notions of it’s origins.
The early hand stencils, dated to at least 39,900 years old, are the oldest hand-stencil artwork found anywhere in the world. Furthermore figurative paintings found in the same caves, where dated at 27,000 years old, meaning that the inhabitants of the caves were living and painting, in the caves for at least 13,000 years! This predates the first recorded agriculture by about 28,000 years, the first civilization in Egypt by about 35,000 years and the birth of the internet by 39’843 years! This early form of Art is not only evidence of early man’s evolving intelligence, but also of his desire and need to express abstract thought, as well as document and explain the world he lived in.
The point. We have been creative for at least 40’000 years which strongly suggests that it is a fundamental human activity, an essential part of our identity and our communication toolbox and has been for a very long time
The Rise of Creativity
Are we becoming more creative? It would seem so. In both 2011 and 2012 “Creative” was the adjective that Linkedin members most used to describe themselves. A recent pole in TIME magazine found that 94% of Americans value creativity in others, more than they value intelligence, compassion, humor, ambition, or beauty. Also the use of the words creative and creativity have steadily increased, particularly in the latter half of the 20th Century, (According to Google’s NGram viewer), suggesting that we are more creative or at least that creativity has become more important and recognized as such. Wordcount, an online tool which tracks and ranks English word usage, ranks ‘Creative’ (of all English words used online), a respectable 3643, just behind ‘weekly’ at 3644 and ‘Germans’ at 3645.
According to Richard Florida, in his pioneering book, The Rise of the Creative Class,
“the real driving force…behind the massive social change of the last fifty years…has been the rise of human creativity”
So what is Creativity and how did it get here?
Creativity by definition means:
To cause to exist: To Make; The use of imagination or original ideas.
Creativity is essentially about making new connections either in our brain or in a social context. Its about joining the dots to make a new or better picture.
Creativity evolves in our childhood through the use of play and imagined possibilities, which later develop in adulthood to creative thinking and problem solving. This capacity for creativity and innovation, which manifests itself in art, language, humour, story telling, philosophy, theory construction and technological innovation, among other skills, is what makes our species unique.
Creativity is also essential to our happiness and well being. People are happy when they’re learning and growing, with creativity an essential element in this.
Creativity is communication and growth as much as it is the creation or invention of something that didn’t exist before.
Creativity doesn’t have to be “Art” nor is it exclusive to Creatives. Creativity can be defined as anything new, brought about through the use of imagination or through social interaction. Nor does it rely on individual insight, in fact most of the greatest innovations and works brought about through creativity are the result of a collaboration between several individuals, working together. Contrary to popular belief, the greatest art and innovation is not the result of unlimited time and resources but rather the opposite. Great innovation is more likely generated where there are strict limitations and resources.
This is when the prehistoric creative brain in us is at its best!
So the next time you doodle in the margins of your annual financial report, just remember your carrying on an activity that has been with us for a very very long time.