Illustrating Creativity

earth-creativeThe other day I found an incredibly simple expression of creativity. It was a drawing on the front page of Reddit (I can’t find the particular post sorry).

A number of people, myself included, believe that creativity is the connection or combination of two (or more) disparate elements. In fact, Kirby Ferguson presents a solid argument that all ‘original’ thought is simply based on recombination of existing elements, namely, that everything is a remix.

I would argue that combinatorial creativity is true for all kinds of creation. Take for example the printing press, arguably one of the most important technologies in the development of modern society. Guttenberg didn’t invent the printing press from scratch, he simply combined four already existing elements. He took moveable type, which was invented four centuries earlier in china, and combined it with vineyard grape presses. Threw in a dash of  ink and paper and voilà, revolution.

Family guy explains it better than I can. Ok not really, but I love this clip.

Anyway, back to my point. As in the case of Guttenberg, sometimes the network of combination is hard to see. The image above takes two different elements, simply separated by space, and combines them with creativity. In this sense, there is a literal connection between the two separate elements.

Rationally, the concept is ridiculous, but the image’s success on Reddit illustrates the power of creativity. People ignore the fact that everything is out of scale, that the image is quite literally impossible, because they like seeing things in a new way. Because they like creativity, no matter how ridiculous.

So next time you’re stuck with a problem, any problem, try random combination of the elements you’re working with. Yes, it will most likely be ridiculous, but you might just invent the next printing press (or funny scribble).