Monday, 26 September 2016

Out of the Frame - Skill vs. Creativity

There is a tension created by our desire to be creative, and our desire to build high levels of skill.

Being creative means to do new things. When we do new things, we are beginners. thus, creatives keep returning to the state of being a beginner, over, and over again.

Skill, on the other hand, is built through a cycle of repetition, introspection, and making small changes, over and over again, often many thousands of times.

Creativity means to take different bodies of knowledge, breaking them apart, and recombining them in new ways.

Building skill means to refine your understanding of an existing body of knowledge.

How do you hit a balance between the two?

In my case, screw the balance! I'm going for the fun stuff!

I often learn a technique first, and practice it until it is a part of my tool kit that I am comfortable, or at least familiar with. Then I start exploring the creative possibilities.

The T-Rex picture above is a case in point. It is a fun picture, but it is not really creative. At this point, I am learning to use the technique. The creative part comes later, when I have practiced, probably just barely enough, to bring off using the technique in a new context.

That is also why I skimped on photo-realism. I already know how to make a T-Rex model look more organic. That is not what I was interested in here, so I skipped it. When I am comfortable enough with creating the 3D-break-out-of-the-flat-surface look, I'll bring other techniques back in, to create more creative work, with a bit more finish.

What is your approach? How do you handle the tension between being creative, and building enough skill to do good work?