Growing Your Creativity | Nicole York-McKeon | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What Is Creativity


    • 3.

      Artists or Craftsman?


    • 4.

      Prioritizing Creativity Part 1


    • 5.

      Prioritizing Creativity Part 2: Scheduling


    • 6.

      Prioritizing Creativity Part 3: Unplug


    • 7.

      Cultiviating Curiosity


    • 8.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 9.

      Inspiration Action Step


    • 10.

      Finding Your Voice


    • 11.

      Letting Go of Fear


    • 12.

      Fear Action Step


    • 13.

      Class Project


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About This Class

Yes, you too can be a creative genius. This class is designed to give you actionable steps that will help you flex your creative muscles, find inspiration, identify your artistic voice, and build your confidence with creating new, exciting ideas authentic to you.
Joing teacher, professional photographer, and serial creator Nicole York  for a journey into what creativity is, why it's important, and how you can get better at it.

Meet Your Teacher

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Nicole York-McKeon

Photographer--Author--Digital Artist

Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to growing your creativity. My name is Nicole York, and I created this class in order to help all of those people who say, I'm I wish I could make cool things, but I'm just not a creative person. I don't know how you come up with all these cool ideas, cause I just can't do that, because the truth is that creativity is not some special gift. Onley allotted to the blessed few creativity is actually more like a muscle, something that you can build and grow over time with the right application. So for this class, we're going to be covering what creativity is. Why it's important in our industry the difference between a craftsman and an artist and why that's important places that you can look for inspiration for your work without contaminating your own voice and how you actually hone your artist's voice so that you can communicate the things that you're passionate about to your audience. At the end of the class, we're going to be creating a brand new list of amazing, innovative, unique, original ideas for you to put projects together for your portfolio so that you can number one prove to yourself that, yes, you too are a creative genius. And two so that you have some awesome new work to blow your clients minds. So let's get into this. Let's get in the class and let's start creating stuff. 2. What Is Creativity: what is creativity? According to the dictionary definition, creativity is imagination, innovation, inventiveness, individuality and originality. But all of those words basically come down to creativity is problem solving, and your brain has been primed by a Brazilian years of evolution to be a problem solving machine. And those problems don't necessarily have to be. You know what do white paint on this canvas? But how do I take this big, enormous rock and move it from there over to here? Or how do I communicate this idea that I'm having? Or how do I get this group of people to do this really important thing? So creativity is not making arts and crafts. You can follow teachers instructions like a paint by number, and you'll still be pacing something. But you won't necessarily be exercising your creativity. So creativity is that voice that each of us have that will take the problem like moving the Big Rock and come up with an idea that really only belongs to us. The reason that's important, especially in this industry, is that now, more than ever before, people can get their hands on really technically sound works of art photographs design from almost anywhere. The Bartow entry into creative fields has become lower and lower. And so now technical expertise is at an all time high across the board, which means that the best way we can make ourselves stand out to our clients is by having something they can't get anywhere else and that something is your artist's voice, your creativity. 3. Artists or Craftsman?: now that we know what creativity is, the question is, what is the difference between an artist and a craftsman? And this question is actually more important than you think, because most of us in the creative field are craftsman all the time. Ah, craftsman is somebody who makes something that is technically sound and has repeatable, predictable results. That way, clients can trust them to deliver them. What they need forgiven project for their walls in their hotel for their brochure that's going out to potential clients, etcetera. And how that applies directly is that a craftsman always has something to make, but an artist has something to say. So while we might be craftsman all the time in what we produce were not always artists, because we're not always approaching what we make with, ah, unique voice that's meant to communicate directly to the audience that the work is intended for. Sometimes we might be a craftsman. Sometimes we might be an artist, and it's great to be both of those things. But the important reason that we need to know the difference is that you can't be an artist by accident. It requires you to be purposeful about what you dio so knowing the difference between when you're being a craftsman and when you're being an artist will help you to choose when you're going to be applying that creative voice to your project. 4. Prioritizing Creativity Part 1: Now that we know the difference between when we're being an artist and when we're being a craftsman, how do we actually apply that and prioritize when we are being artists and when we are using our creativity. So the first thing that you have to do is actually take the steps from here on out that I'm going to give you and follow them. I can't make you do that. That's something that you're gonna have to settle within yourself. You plan to take the following steps, apply them daily, used them every time you need to start being creative. Otherwise, all of the stuff that we're gonna learn during this class is pretty much pointless. Why is this important like we talked about before? Creativity is really going to be the thing that separates the cream from the milk. It's going to be the thing that depends in the future, whether you get hired or not, because everybody that's competing with you at the level that you're at is gonna have the technical skill to get the job done. But not everybody is going to have your voice, and that's the thing that's gonna make you matter to your audience. So how do you prioritize creativity? The first thing is to decide to make it a priority, and the second thing is to begin removing the things that interfere with your creative process. A big one that I've noticed is when people spend too much time looking at the work of their competition, and then they start to feel bad about themselves. They start to feel bad about their work. They start to question whether or not they really are that good. How come they can't have ideas like that? Why didn't I shoot that model? Why didn't I get that idea All of those things. You have to get rid of that. I know how tempting it is because sometimes it's amazing work and you're so impressed. But when it really drags you down, it becomes more harm than good. So the first thing is, get rid of that stuff stopped following those people. Stop spending your time looking at their work. Just remove it entirely. The next part of prioritizing creativity is to stop settling for just technically good work for photographers. If it's exposed right, if it's sharp, if the composition is fine, etcetera, then That's just a technically good piece, and it's fine to give to somebody. But if you really are wanting to exercise your creativity and grow your creativity, then you have to stop settling. For that. You have to start pushing yourself to say, What am I trying to say with this piece? What was the goal and intention behind what I'm doing? What am I trying to communicate? Don't let technically good be the standard by which you measure yourself any longer. The standard now is Did I get my point across that? I say. What I wanted to say is my voice. My intention is how I want people to feel what I want them to think when they walk away from seeing this thing. If I accomplished that, that is now the new standard and how you value your work. 5. Prioritizing Creativity Part 2: Scheduling: the last. An important part of prioritizing creativity is actually putting creativity on the calendar . There's all all of these competing things that are happening, right, like our kid has sports or we've got a meeting. We've scheduled lunch with somebody. We're gonna go get our pedicure or we have to get the gas changed on our car. All of these things that are taking up our time, and so creativity just gets kind of pushed and pushed to the side. What you need to do then, is take a little bit of time out of each day and schedule that time in where there are no other distractions, no other appointments. Nobody's visiting nothing else to distract from you really being able to be alone with your thoughts. And I really mean alone with your thoughts without music going on or other distractions. I know sometimes music can really help the creative process, and we're actually gonna talk about that later. But during this particular time, you need that silence so that nothing pulls your mind away from the things that you're trying to think about. And you have to think about them all the way through. You have to take those ideas and thoughts from there beginning all the way through to their end. So what that might look like for me as a photographer would be okay. I have this really cool idea to turn people into living sculptures in the downtown, but they're going to be blue. Whatever. OK, I mean, don't hate on it because you never know. Okay, When you think about it all the way through, it could be pretty cool. So I'm gonna take this idea, and I'm gonna think about it from completion backward all the way through production. So I'm going to think about you know, what kind of people are am I going to use for this project? Okay. And then where am I gonna bring them? Downtown? What places would sort of fit this idea? How am I gonna light these people? What gear am I gonna use to photograph them with? How am I going to of approach things in postproduction to get the look that I want all of those different things. I have to think about them all the way through until I actually see in my head the final image. Whether it's a billboard somewhere or in a gallery, or somebody's looking at it on their phone. Whatever it is, I need to be able to see the end all the way through the process. The advantage of doing this and not having all of those distractions coming at you from everywhere is that thinking through the process will often help you not only hone your idea , but it will kind of flesh things out. Like originally, I had thought that the people were going to be blue and they were going to look like living sculptures. Now I'm thinking that the people are going to be a little bit more like enhanced versions of what people could be in the future, and people are going to be checking them out. And as I think, I begin to get other ideas that come along and flesh it out and tell me, okay, these air problems, I'm gonna encounter that I need to think my way through. Or maybe these are really great parts of what I'm trying to dio and I just need to give them a little bit more room. And maybe by the end of the session, I might not have come up with anything that's perfect. But the whole point is not necessarily to come up with brand new, great original creative ideas every single time we have these scheduled priority sessions of creative time in your head, but it's actually just a flex that creative muscle just to keep it working. Just toe. Make your mind go through the process. That way, the next time something pops in there out of the blue, you have that process of working through it. You've strengthened that muscle enough that instead of kind of grasping at the edges of the idea and then falling apart, you'll actually have the strength to hold on to the idea and start to really develop it into where it needs to go. 6. Prioritizing Creativity Part 3: Unplug: Now that we've done that, it's time to unplug. And I mean that literally. I mean, if you're going to exercise your creativity, your own original individual, unique creativity, you're gonna have to start getting rid of all of the stuff that clogs your head. The truth is that even though social media is awesome, it allows us to connect to people. It allows us to see things and see new ideas and keep track of family all the cool stuff that it's for. What happens is that we're so used to checking it. We're inundated by it all the time, and what happens is that it fragments our concentration. In order to be creative, you really have to be concentrated on an idea, a thought, purpose of motivation, what you're trying to accomplish. And if things like Facebook beeps on your phone or instagram or phone calls, your new favorite show the kid yelling at you from another room, all of that stuff. If that keeps fragmenting your attention, you're going to find it harder and harder to focus your will and your thoughts in your mind all entirely on what you're trying to accomplish. If you can't do that you're gonna have fragments of creativity that happen that are going to kind of pop in there. And you're going to think, Oh, that that that was a great idea. But all the sudden, it's gonna be gone because you're gonna be distracted by the phone call. You just got where the email ping that happened or somebody popped up on messenger. And that's basically it's kind of like fishing. You know, something was on the line for a second, but if you take the tension off the line, the fish is gone. So you have tow unplug from all of the distractions that fragment your attention in order to give your creativity and the ideas that you're trying to create the focus that they need to come to fruition. 7. Cultiviating Curiosity: so the next part of growing your creativity that I personally think is really important. And I'm getting close to the camera because I'm trying to explain to you how important it really is is creativity requires curiosity, and what I mean by that is we all start from a place of the knowledge that we have. That kind of is like our house. We live in our house, we know our house. We could probably walk through it with our eyes closed. And that's great because it lends a lot of depth of understanding to what we do. But if we stay there, if we just stay within the bubble of knowledge that we have, we tend to feel safe and comfortable. I don't want you to be safe and comfortable. Often, creativity requires some kind of motivation in order to happen. Whether it's this big rock is here and it needs to be moved. Its a problem that is going to confront you, and we tend to have less problems when we stay in safe places in places where we understand everything and we know in our home we know and so we tend to not have as many problems. It's not until the roof starts leaking on us that were like, Oh, man! And then we have a problem to solve in our creativity kicks into gear and the gears start rolling in our head. But understanding that means knowing that our knowledge doesn't necessarily propel us forward. And we don't wanna have problems in our house. So being creative requires a driving force. Creativity wants to be pushed in it. It needs the flame to the gasoline almost, and curiosity does that curiosity is a driving force. Curiosity pushes people. That's why it killed the cat, right? Stupid cat. That curiosity moves you to find out new things. It pushes you to get answers, to dig deeper, to see what lies beyond this thing over here. Also, one of the cool things about creativity is it's an indicator of interest, and any areas that hold our interest tend to be areas where we can develop a passion. And if you develop a passion, that means that when you communicate that passion to your audience, they read it. They see it, they feel it. Nothing is as easy to communicate to somebody as a passion, and I'm gonna give you an example. I ate at the most amazing Mexican restaurant you have ever been to. A soon as you walk in the door, the smell just kind of hits you in the face. And there's this tangy nous, and the cilantro is a little bit of a bite in there, and you can almost taste the cumin and all of the other spices in the air. And the chips that you get are just They're fresh and they're crispy and just a little bit of lime in them, so that when you dip them into the salsa and the crunch in your mouth, it's amazing. And that is my passion for food coming across. That is the reason that we do Those kind of things. Go to a restaurant we've never gone to before because somebody tells us about it with so much passion. And if you are curious, then that indicates your interest. If you build that interest in that curiosity than soon, passion develops from that. So curiosity well, absolutely push you in your creativity because it's bringing new information into your head . It's giving you new areas of interest. Maybe we're comfortable in our house because we know it. But what if we start checking out outside of our house? What if we start looking underneath the house or above the house? All of those things provide new vantage points and new perspectives. So curiosity will provoke you If your content in the knowledge that you have the growth stops contentment is the killer of creativity. Don't be content, bi curious. 8. Finding Inspiration: So now that we've kicked fears Booty, the next step is looking for inspiration. Where do we find it? So we talked before about not spending our time bringing ourselves down by looking at the work of our competition if it makes us feel bad about ourselves. So where do we start looking for inspiration? Some of the places that are really great are gonna be outside of your area of expertise. So as a photographer, even though I really enjoy looking at other photographs, maybe I want to look at photographs that are outside of my genre. So instead of looking at conceptual work or key art or fashion, I'm going to be looking at portrait's or landscapes or fine art in other areas. Beyond that, look for things that are entirely outside of your specialty. So music. Listen to the lyrics, close your eyes and think about how the music makes you feel. Read, read, read so much. Read books, read poetry, read short stories, read articles about subjects that inspire you watch movies that make you feel something. Think about why those movies affect you. Is that the score that's really pulling your heartstrings? Is it a storyline about something you can identify with. Also, find a creative partner, somebody who you can bounce ideas off of somebody that can toss your own creativity right back at you. So you have a kind of crazy Atari Ping Pong match of creative ideas going on. Not only does this help you get new ideas and think of new things, but it also gives you a sense of community and that you're not alone and that it's kind of a safe space. That's another artist who also was trying to be authentic and trying to be vulnerable. Somebody else who understands where you're coming from, and it's OK if you share your creative blue people idea with them. They're not going to shut you down because they know about that process of just considering any of the cool stuff that pops into your head until you actually have a solution, make a list of things you truly care about things that you would spend your time, your money, your effort on it could be a social cause. It could be a philosophy, a personal curiosity, anything that you're passionate enough about to spend your time, your money, your effort on and write those things down. Once you know those things, you can start thinking about how you can participate in them, how you can help, how you can express how you can question. And that list will be a great starting off point for looking at your inspiration. 9. Inspiration Action Step: action Step, Yes. Take your list of passionate subjects and break down why you care about them and what you would contribute to that cause if you could create a list or a Pinteresque board or a vision board of work outside of your genre that were your specialty that inspires you or touches you put these things side by side and consider how you can combine your list of passionate subjects and the inspiration you get from the work of different artists. 10. Finding Your Voice: how to find your voice. How do you do it? How how do you do it? It's hard, man. Finding your voice is hard but worth it. Unfortunately, this is probably the most nebulous of the subjects that we're gonna be dealing with when we're talking about growing your creativity, but it's also the most important. So let's break things down and consider what your voice actually means, how that ties into your creativity and what we can do about it. When thinking about your artist's voice, it's important to consider why you are creating What are you being creative about? Ask yourself what you want to say to people when they look at what you have created, What do you want them to think? How do you want them to feel when they walk away? How do you want your work to have changed them? What answers are you trying to give people? What questions? Do you want them toe? Ask themselves. What would you like to motivate them to do with your work? All of those things tap into why you have created the work that you've created or why you are motivated in the first place to create the work that you're working on right now. Considering these things points you towards the message that you're supposed to be giving people, it doesn't always have to be one overarching theme for everything that you create your voice, maybe a little bit different. Depending on the subject matter you're dealing with, there will always be the aspect of you that is in it. But each project that you handle should have a purpose, a destination, a point. And when you consider that, then you can think about how you apply your own voice to that subject matter. For example, I'm working on a fine art project, and I don't necessarily want to answer any questions with the Fine art project. But I want it to cause people to think more deeply about what they feel inside and how they express those feelings to the world outside. I want them to think not only about that for their own lives, but for the people they encounter that could be feeling totally differently from them, maybe in a way that they can't necessarily understand, but that still requires their compassion and their understanding. So for that project, the way that I will approach it will still have my aesthetic tied to it. Things that, um I've already learned by taking the steps that we talked about above by looking at other works of art that I love looking at things that inspire me and passions that I have and breaking those things down to see what I really love. This kind of light And I really love these kind of colors. And I really love when somebody uses beautiful s curves in their sculpture and I find those those images appealing. I have that aesthetic now that I can break down and apply to the new things that I create with that purpose in that voice that I've wanted to give it. So these six steps are really going to help you If you repeat them every time, it's time to be creative. What are you passionate about? What question do you want to explore? What do you want to say about your passion or what questions are you asking the world? Take your time. Go radio silent. Remove the distractions. Walk yourself through the creation of a peace from the beginning. All the way to the end. Try not to skip any steps right down what your results are. When you're writing things down, write down everything you come up with. You're not allowed to erase or talk yourself out of it, no matter how big or scary or crazy it sounds. Finally, consider your skill set and determine whether or not the skills that you possess right now are enough to do the job you want to do. 11. Letting Go of Fear: All right, let's talk about fear. This one is, I think, where most people stumbled. And the worst part is, even though you learn to deal with it and you get better about handling it, it's always there. And the reason is because creativity requires vulnerability. Connecting with an audience over something that you're passionate about kind of requires you to bare your soul. And any time we do that, there's that sense of somebody might hate it. Somebody might really not understand it. They might judge us for what we do, and so immediately our brain wants to protect us. Or brain is like, Don't do that. Don't go there. Don't say that thing. Don't make that People are not are gonna understand it. They're gonna laugh atyou what, you're gonna hide in the closet and cry. Um, that is not where we want to be. But that's what happens when we're vulnerable and not just won re vulnerable emotionally. That translates to physically as well. You know, any time you're in a place where you're physically vulnerable to being injured, all of that fighter flight starts happening and you know, you either have to hang on for dear life where you got to get out of there, you need to protect yourself somehow, and your brain does the same thing when you're emotionally vulnerable. So that fear first, it's good to understand that that fear is natural. But you need to know where it's coming from so that you can know that you aren't actually in danger. And once you realize that, that's a really good way to start combating that kind of fear, you have to squash it. You can't listen to those voices. That brings us to the next part, which is when the fear comes and when your brain starts trying to rationalize that fear. With all of these reasons that sound really good to you, like this is really strange. Probably nobody else thinks like you. They're not gonna get it. They're gonna think you're weird. You don't want them to think that you're the crazy person, right? So all of these thoughts that try to rationalize your fear in order to bring you back to your safe space, you have to counter those thoughts. You have to respond to them with the opposite and the potential good that your creativity, that you're vulnerable creativity will do. So when those fear thoughts pop up and somebody says where your mind says to you, somebody Yeah, it's a totally different person than there. Sometimes I do feel like that. Um, so when those thoughts come up and they say, Oh, people, nobody is gonna identify with this work, then you have to counter that with the fact that you know, if one person does, if one person out there does, then all of the effort was worth it. When the thoughts come along of Oh, you know, people are people are not going to get this work. They're gonna think you're crazy. Then you need to counter that thought with Maybe crazy is what the world needs right now. I mean, we've been doing things the same way for a long time, and maybe a new fresh voices, a catalyst for change. You need to take all of those potential bad thoughts, and you need to counter them with their opposite because you want to think mawr on the potential of success than the potential of failure. Try to remind yourself that your mind is going to give you worst case scenarios. It's not even just you're walking down the sidewalk. There's a bump. Oh, man, I might trip over that bump your mind goes immediately to You're gonna trip, you're gonna break your neck. They're gonna card you out of here in an ambulance. Like your mind is trying to protect you. So it's going to give you the worst. Remember that the worst is statistically unlikely to happen. So don't let those worst case scenarios start sapping your confidence. You have to do the hard work of convincing yourself that your authenticity and your vulnerability are worth the fear of failure. Sometimes we are going to fail. And even though I hate to say the world, the word fail because I really believe that there are no failures, just lessons. Sometimes the work that you produce is not going to get that the response that you want, probably maybe sometimes from the majority of people. But your authenticity, your vulnerability is worth it. It is always worth it because that is the only thing that allows people to make true connections. And the true connections that people make to your work is the thing that will change them and change you. So don't let that fear stop you from being vulnerable and authentic. Focus on the consequences of success rather than the consequences of failure. When the idea pops into your head that a project you're working on might fail, you really have to push it aside and replace it with what the success would look like instead, rather than in my head go. I'm gonna share all these photos and nobody's gonna like him. Nobody's going to see him. I'm gonna have used all that time and effort and it's gonna be wasted. I have to push that thought aside. And I have to bring in the ideas of success and say People are going to see these. They're gonna be changed. They're gonna ask more questions. They're gonna be inspired. Their these pictures are gonna be, you know, shared all over the world. My photographs, they're gonna be hanging in galleries and people will see them and buy them, put them in their homes and love them. Start replacing all of that negative fear. Talk with that positive success talk. Don't avoid failure. Seek success. Let the failure stuff go when it comes into your brain. Don't think about it. Remove it replace it with success. The trick to being able to get rid of the fear that is associated with true creativity is to fight it every day. It's not a sprint. It is a marathon. You have to do it over and over and over again until you've trained your mind to respond to that fear in the same way the thoughts will never entirely go away. Maybe you'll get really good at dealing with them. But remember that you've pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone, and any time you do that, your brain is going to try to protect you. And you can see that as a signal that, oh, I must be really pushing the envelope here. My brain is getting nervous about this is trying to stop me. That's a good sign. That means that what I'm doing really has the potential to make a difference. So don't let that fear stop. You fight it every time it comes up and stay in it for the long haul, because I promise you it's gonna be worth it. 12. Fear Action Step: action step time for this action step. I want you to write down the fears that have stopped you from being creative in the past and then counter those fears by writing down the opposite. What could go amazingly right? Any time those old fears pop up, counter them with the bright possibilities. 13. Class Project: Finally, it's class project time. We're gonna take everything that we talked about during all of the prior steps, and we're gonna put them all together in order to put together our brainstorming list. Brainstorm A list of 25 possible creative ideas for your next project using your inspiration list. It doesn't matter how crazy your ideas sound, and the crazier the better you need to write them down and give them due consideration. The key here is to be honest and vulnerable. The more passion there is behind the idea, the better chance it will have of connecting with your audience. Share your list with the class and feel free to chat with each other about your ideas and why you're excited about certain ones and maybe, why some of them scare you. Choose one project for the future and share the results of that project with your class. Thank you so much for joining me for how to grow your creativity. I really hope that we see ah lot of interaction in the comments. I hope that you guys can bounce ideas off of each other, share your experiences, talk about the things that you're struggling with so we can really help each other over the hurdles. And I know that if you put these steps into focus, if you find out what you're passionate about, if you get rid of the things that distract you if you schedule time to sit down and be alone with your thoughts and think all the way through the ideas that you have, if you can really redirect those fear thoughts with positive thoughts, we can do some positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement. If you can do those things, then I guarantee you you're gonna be flexing your creative muscles and you're really going to see your creativity start to grow.