• What is the creative process in Art?
  • The 4 Stages of the Creative Process
  • How does this help us in our own creative process?

The creative process

What is the creative process in Art?

 Psychologists describe it in simple terms of inspiration (coming up with ideas) and generation (bringing ideas to life). 

 It’s part of a way of thinking popularized by the English social psychologist Graham Wallas, the co-founder of the London School of Economics. He defined what he believed to be stages of the creative process  in his 1926 book on creativity called The Art of Thought based on his own observations and what he had learned about famous inventors and intellectuals. 

While we may never find the formula for creativity, there’s still a lot that science can teach us about what goes into the creative process—and how each one of us can optimize our own. 

The 4 Stages of the Creative Process

The creative process manifests in different ways and on different timelines for anyone who is able to unlock their creative potential goes through a similar process to bring an idea to life. lots of iterations have emerged since then. Some of these theories describe a creative process of 4, 5 or 6 stages. But essentially, nothing has changed.

They tend to look more like a zigzag or spiral than a straight line.

  1. Preparation: Identifying sources of inspiration

Preparation is the working stage, during which you conduct research and gather information. The ground floor of the creative process, It also serves as a planning stage as you prepare for the new idea or project to come. you need to find something that interests you. A problem, an opportunity or a challenge that catches your attention; something that fascinates you. Many even say that such inspiration develops when they least expect it—while making dinner, having a conversation with a friend.

So it really matters to ask yourself  how you can foster curiosity in your daily life? How do you keep that curious spark and how do you use it to build up knowledge and skills? 

  1. Incubation : Absorbing and processing 

This part of creative thinking is taking a step away from your idea before you sit down to flesh it out. This is probably the most overlooked part when it comes to creativity, But the process highlights the importance of time-off. You might work on another project or take a break from the creative process altogether—regardless, you are not consciously trying to work on your idea. Walking away from your idea might seem counterproductive, but this awareness can also help you to step back temporarily from a creative task without a guilty conscience. As ideas slowly simmer, the work deepens and new connections are formed. During this period of germination, your story or problem is incubating in the back of your mind. While the conscious mind wanders, the unconscious engages in what Einstein called “combinatory play”: taking diverse ideas and influences and finding new ways to bring them together. What’s more, awareness of the evaluation step can help you further.

 You can favor this step by engaging in various new experiences that might (or might not) trigger a new line of thought.

  1. Illumination: The” aha” moment of insight !

The third stage is what most people consider as creativity.  It’s that moment where you experience a sudden flash of understanding and where the pieces (seem to) fall together. After a period of incubation, insights arise from the deeper layers of the mind and break through to conscious awareness. Suddenly, it all makes sense!

 This stage is what most people think is a classic characteristic of a creative person, but creativity is a process which even the most seemingly unimaginative people can learn to manage and nurture.

Verification/implementation: Putting Pen to Paper 

You literally create your idea and hard work brings it to life. You build on the “aha” solution. You evaluate, analyze and build on your idea. 

At this stage, You have to use critical thinking and aesthetic judgment skills to  refine the work and then communicate its value to others. 

 Hard work including obstacles are an essential part. So you better think of ways to positively influence this stage. What do you do in these moments? How can you make sure that you not only work hard on your creative idea, but on the one that drives and motivates you? What kind of environment (both: space and people) help you with your Verification?

How does this help us in our own creative process?

The creative process is a model and it very certainly works differently for each person. Yet, it can be a starting point to experiment with your very own creative process. The model certainly can offer a road map of sorts for our own creative journey, offering a direction, if not a destination. We can learn how to optimize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. In the four-stage model, we can see how the internal and external elements of the creative process interact.  So it can help us become more aware of where we’re at in our own process, where we need to go, and the mental processes that can help us get there. And when the process gets a little too messy, coming back to this framework can help us to recenter, realign, and chart the path ahead. 

One more thing is important to understand

Any creative process is a mix between the inner and the outer; the dreaming and doing, solitary reflection and active collaboration. The more we master this balance, the more we can tap into our creative potential ! 

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