A different look at creativity

In previous articles I discussed some of the broader issues and benefits related to Social Media/Networking and how this new tool could benefit artists. The first article “What’s up with Social media” I introduced the concept of “ambient intimacy” and how the growth of social networking via the Internet has increased our ability to build relationships with our buyers. In “How to use Social Media”I talked about how social media gives us the ability to engage our buyers, build relationships with them and eventually develop a tribe organized around our art and our values.

This series takes the Social Media examination a little deeper by examining who can benefit the most from social media and what tools are most applicable. And more specifically how each segment of the generalized label of creativity can benefit most from Social Media.

creative_spectrumhdr2 A different look at creativity

A recent post by Mark McGuinness  on the Lateral Action blog describing the best 10 social networking sites for creatives also carried an underlying theme…collaboration, interaction and feedback are important to the creative process. The underlying premise is similar to one I have argued about here…the elimination of geography, time and other barriers by the internet and most recently by the evolution of Social Media has  made collaborative tools available we could barely imagine even 10 years ago. That said, reading Mark’s post brought up some questions and issues I have been chewing on for a while.

The two questions came to mind:

  • Why are artists either resistant or slow to use new methods of reaching their markets?
  • Who is using the methods?

As I skimmed  Mark’s interviews I noticed two things:

  • The primary users especially of the hard core social network sites (focused on providing collaborative environment) were really true creatives and not necessarily defining themselves through the traditional definition of art.
  • The second thing was that I noticed I had been dumping anything and everything however remote that involved creating art into the CREATIVE hopper.

My ah ah moment was seeing that not all art is creative and not all creatives are artists!! Well, you might say DUH!! …but I think quite a lot of people make the same mistake. Dumping everything into the same pot without differentiation creates a lot of confusion and a sense of cultural disorientation. We have no criteria to organize, no boxes to slip things into all the while scratching our collective heads over the obvious  differences we do see within the creative community.

So I noticed that I felt a common bond, a like mindedness with those frequenting the more hard core networks. I could feel the excitement of creative juices. A frame of reference started to emerge …instead of a hopper of creativity maybe we need to look at it as a spectrum with different shades or levels each fading into the other. For simplicity sake I defined the spectrum as consisting of: Creators, Makers and Producers. This seemed to explain for me why I for example thrive on creative interaction and often feel lost without it while others tend to keep themselves isolated. So let’s take a closer look at these parts of the creative spectrum. The graphic below is sort of an abstract representation of how I see the spectrum, there is no significance to the size or color of each section…just in case you were wondering.

creative_spectrum-400x92 A different look at creativity


Creators are the original thinkers, the mashers who see possibilities in everything.

  • They were born with a vision of their world or they have discovered their unique world view as they matured.
  • They also seem to be naturally drawn to one or more mediums for communicating that vision and most importantly they generally seem thrive in interactive environments where they can explore the edges of their visions.
  • They are the inventors, the early adapters the experimenters… fear of the unknown is not something they are familiar with.
  • They tend to operate in a conceptual/theoretical world.

While admittedly there is a great deal of overlap possible here, those in the creator hue of the spectrum are not necessarily good at translating their concepts into reality.


That role of translator is given over to…The Makers. The overlap area between the pure creators and the  pure makers is the home of those who can straddle both worlds, they are the ones who understand the concepts clear enough to shape them into reality, they give the concepts form and process.

The pure makers are the ones who can take the recipe and adapt it within the context of their creative medium.

  • They develop new ways to throw a particular  type of porcelain clay, or use a particular type of painting surface, or write a variation of a given code.
  • They tend to be medium specific, developing a point of view or voice that shapes the techniques they develop and once set their style generally does not vary.
  • These are the fine crafts people, who are not so much focused on production of a commodity as they are on giving form to their voice.
  • They frequently refine  concepts developed by creators, into an array of techniques for working in their medium.

As makers move closer to focusing on production they slowly become..Producers.


Producers work from recipes and templates to produce a specific line of product in the creative spectrum they are the factory focused on numbers and replication. Producers are the artisans of the spectrum and also the distributors they bring the efforts of the creators and the makers to the ordinary consumer. In a sense their work is utilitarian it takes the maker’s pot off the mantel or bookshelf and places it on the table for everyday use.


  • So where do you fall on  the cretive spectrum?
  • Do these generalized categories work?
  • How does each category interact best with social media?

Part 2 of this series will look at just how each part of the Creative Spectrum can use social media and what parts of social media work best with each of the three creative spectrum categories.

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 A different look at creativity

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