You may have noticed a trend here recently on this blog. We have been wrestling with what it means to be creative.

To illustrate my perception, I ask you: “What is in your hand?”

The imagery that may come to mind is one of Texas Hold ‘em, Blackjack, or even Go-Fish. All of these games are built around chance and the player leveraging what chance has brought to their hand. Stepping now to the analogy, this is an overly simplistic view of the resources available when approaching a creative project.

To fill in a concrete example, imagine for a moment you are a graphic designer (This could be scary or flattering for many of you; I pity anyone who would rely on my graphic skills). The project you have is to create signage for an event, a graphics package if you will, and this event has a theme and colors chosen already. The cards in your hand are the aesthetics of the theme and the color palette you have to work with. Let’s say it’s a Luau themed youth event so you google pictures of Hawaii and model your graphics to be caricatures of island life. Bamboo, grass skirts, tiki torches, the whole nine yards.

Now imagine a little less cut and dry example. What is a project you are working on currently? What are the resources you have at hand, i.e., “Cards you have been dealt”? What are the limitations or constraints? Where is there leeway for interpretation or expression?

Addressing these questions, to me, is the crux of the creative process.

Creativity is making something beautiful out of what is available to you. 

Living photographer Alexy Titarenko and his personal style were driven and directed by limitations and constraints. He became proficient in his own form because for much of his early life he only had so many options to choose from. I highly recommend looking at his documentation and artful expression of a recent time period in Russia.

In the pursuit of being creative, ask yourself, “What’s in my hand?”

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