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Creativity unleashed – finding that creative spark in everyone

10 May, 2024 Reading: 4:48 mins
Emily Shipman

By Emily

During the pandemic, a Sky Arts survey found that 30% of UK adults felt they lacked the knowledge on ‘how to be creative.’ This phrase reveals a common misconception about creativity—it's not just a skill to be mastered or a subject one can fail at.

Creativity unleashed – finding that creative spark in everyone

The notion that creativity can be taught or that you can be "bad" at it is utterly flawed. While certain techniques and theories can be learned, the core of creativity is intrinsic to everyone.

At KISS, our environment fosters creativity across all roles, though we, like many agencies, have designated 'creative teams' and specific 'creative deliverables'. To truly explore the notion that 'everyone is creative' and that creativity extends beyond predefined outputs, we used one of KISS' quarterly All Staff days to engage the entire team in the creative process. Creativity can be unlocked and expressed in numerous ways, as demonstrated by three examples we explored during our All Staff.

Change of place – change of perspective

They say a change is as good as a rest and being located in the heart of Cambridge – one of the world’s most historic, learned and inspiring cities – it’s easy to take for granted what’s on your doorstep. Nestled in the Backs between the river and colleges is the wonderful Kettle’s Yard. The former private residence of a former Tate curator, it now showcases work from internationally acclaimed artists amongst the permanent collection that was originally the family home.

Just a 15-minute walk from KISS HQ, our journey to a new venue immediately sparked a change in outlook from the whole team. As we meandered through cobblestone streets, past grand university buildings, over bridges with punts floating below, to a quaint cottage at a crossroads, the shift in space began to fuel our creative process. This isn't just by chance. Dr. Chong Chen, a neuroscience professor at Yamaguchi University in Japan, has confirmed the significant impact that even simple physical activity can have on creative thinking. Coupled with arriving at a new, distraction-free location billed as an art sanctuary—no Slack, no email—it was hard not to feel inspired.

Creativity as an act of expression

During our time at Kettle’s Yard the we had the opportunity to visit Issam Kourbaj’s Urgent Archive exhibition which focuses on the now Cambridge-based artist’s work since the start of the conflict in his home country of Syria. Stepping into the subjective realm of contemporary art, we found ourselves at the crossroads of medium and style—a matter of taste, where some are drawn in and others may step back. Yet, from our team's experience with the exhibition, it became evident: the medium fades into the background. What truly resonates is the artist's compelling need to create, to process and to communicate.

I truly believe creativity can be a passive act, sometimes there are things in the world that we struggle to fully understand or align our emotions to, especially if these things are not happening directly to us. Global atrocities and complex political issues are difficult to comprehend and not the easiest of water cooler topics, and yet they affect us every day - creativity enables those who have lived through trying times and events to communicate their experiences but also enables those who haven’t lived those experiences to begin to understand and put language to the unspeakable. What’s more, this type of creative expression is almost fundamental and incredibly private. It moves away from categorising a person as a ‘creative’ or not and becomes therapeutic. The output doesn’t matter, only the act.

Having something to show for it all

You can philosophise all day about the nature of creativity but fundamentally there is nothing better than getting stuck in – and goodness, that’s exactly what the KISS team did!

Hosted by two incredibly talented and patient tutors, Charlotte and Patsy, we received a crash course in Drypoint etching and it was a total hit. Immersed in the creative atmosphere of Kettle’s Yard, and inspired by Issam Kourbaj’s work, the team picked up their tools and captured the likeness of beloved pets, sporting teams’ grounds and crest, creatures of the deep and more. Fuelled by tea and cake, our preconceived notions of creativity melted away. With every stroke, our sense of achievement and enjoyment grew. For a few hours, we ALL became creatives – even those of us who had no clue we had any creativity lurking within us! Just like in childhood, the highlight was taking home our prints to proudly show our partners, children, and cats.

In all it was an incredibly emotional day which we all loved – and a tangible reminder that creativity resides in all of us, ready to be tapped into whenever we need it.

A final thought from Nicky Goulder, CEO of charity Create, “People need to create. Creativity impacts wellbeing, emotional and mental health. It builds skills, brings joy and reduces isolation. It allows us to think differently, to express ourselves, and to be heard. It raises aspirations and – according to industry leaders including the World Economic Forum – is a core skill for business.”

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