Planting The Seed Of Creativity: The Impact of Environment on Creativity
Pablo Picaso once said, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”
When I was a child, I remember watching a sitcom called Victorious on Nickelodeon. The story followed a girl called Tori Vega who attended a desirable arts-based school called Hollywood Arts, which provided the students with industry skills to excel in music, theatre, art and production. When I listened to Catherine Courage’s TED Talk: Igniting Creativity to Transform Corporate Culture, I remembered one of the episodes.
One of the staple backgrounds in the show was the main foyer; a hallway filled with lockers, each one decorated with different colours and designs to express the individual interests of each of the students at the school. During the locker episode, Tori struggles to work out how best to personalise her own space, and seeks help from her friends and fellow students, and despite wondering how on earth these students managed to acquire the tools to fully-wire a keyboard-locker-door, or have working strobe LED lights on the locker exterior, what piqued my interest is how some of the students were able to use their locker as a tool; in Andre’s case, his locker door was a working keyboard, which made sense as he was a pianist and keyboard player by trade, and wanted to go into the music industry to produce music. He plays the keyboard-locker-door in the hallway, freestyling a tune from the top of his head, demonstrating his ability to think on the fly and how, all he would need to get himself ready and raring to work on a composition, would be his phone, where he could have a random passer by record him playing the tune in his head, and the locker itself.
Have you ever had an idea that you have been desperate to work on, but had nowhere to write it down? I have, numerous times, particularly while I was working as a cashier in a theme park. It used to drive me up the walls; struggling to recall the lightbulb moment I had been hit with during the morning rush during my break, and acknowledging that it was probably gone forever.
I remember confiding in a colleague, who was studying music, who admitted he had the same issue. Together, we would find ourselves printing off spare receipt roll to write down ideas that came to us during our shifts, and stash them under the receipt machine, after they were found in our drawers. These receipts were covered in “one-liners” for poetry or songs, doodles of something we had seen or even whole verses. We had inadvertently mastered writing without looking at the page to avoid being caught, because as eager as the workplace was to encourage us to be bright and creative, to make sure that children had a great day with us, they were not going out of their way to spend more money on receipt rolls because the art students were composing in the corner.
Like Anne Cantelo said in her own TED Talk, “we usually get our best ideas in the bath, or when walking in the woods”, however, this is not always the case, of course, sometimes stimuli we encounter during the day can inspire us equally, and having a keyboard on his locker door meant that Andre wouldn’t have had to run to the music department and potentially forget the sequence of chords he had thought of as he walked through school.
One of the points that Courage made during her TED Talk was that a key to ignite creativity was the environment that people worked in.
As a writer, I cannot begin to explain how draining spending over a year indoors, unable to do on-location-writing exercises etc. has been on my artistic process. It has made it significantly harder to come up with ideas for poetry, short stories etc. however, it certainly put me in a situation where I instantly agreed with Courage.
Even in Victorious, being at a school that nurtured the artistic talents of the students, perhaps to the detriment of all other fields of study (I have no recollection of these students ever mentioning maths lessons or English class!), allowed each artist that had made their way to the school to focus on what made them special and demonstrate their range of skills that would make them desirable in the highly competitive world of Los Angeles’ Art Scene.
As Courage says in her TED Talk: “Environment is the foundation of creative thinking.”
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.
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