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Artistic creativity vs logical creativity

This is one of those subjects I’ve debated several times in person and one that was struck up by some friends recently on twitter. I chose not to really get involved on twitter as I hate debating on such a limited social network but I am not great at leaving this topic of conversation alone.

From what I can gather the rough comment that sparked the debate was – Logical people can be creative, but it’s creativity within logic. Creatives can be creative outside this.

I mostly agree with this statement although the outside this is a little ambiguous and does imply a lesser creativity is harnessed by logic to the creativity harnessed by artistic means. That part I don’t agree with. Both are important and needed in life.

Let’s start with the fundamanetal of what a person does whether aristic or logical, making a song or writing code. Both types of people are taking a blank canvas of some kind and are filling it. They are taking nothing and turning it into something, therefore on the basic level something has definitely been created!

The biggest difference is why they are doing so. A logical person probably has some kind of job (or is studying for one) that involves taking a problem, like how to stop all the harmful gas in a mine being leaked into the air or how can we make a more efficient car that runs more cheaply for an average family. There is a problem and solving it provides some kind of gain to our way of life, preserving the planet, saving us money, saving lives etc.

An artistic person can create for a much wider set of reasons (not necessarily more or less important). They might feel hurt and wish to create something that comforts others in similar situations, they might feel it necessary to challenge a particular worldview or opinion to ensure humanity doesn’t go down a dark path. They might not even know why they are creating but feel the need to do so anyway and express what’s inside them in the hope to gain clarity.

Notice in the logical examples it is some kind of physical need, in the artisitc examples it is all centered around feelings, emotions and morals.  This is what is drawn on to create our new thing, whatever it is. An artist often draws on the emotional side of things to create, often creating their best work when they have freely explored that emotion, often in a very unlogical way (the brain often just dredges up all the associated experiences they’ve ever had that relate in no logical order).

A logical person sometimes has a brief of what their project has to do and they set about thinking through how that is going to be solved. Often the process going on in their brain is as subconscious as the process going on in an artistically creative’s brain. They are trying to come up with the best solution to the problem but often their emotions are unengaged. My husband frequently tells me that he can’t code and think about coding while angry or even happy. He has to focus on something that is neither of those and similar to the process of solving a sudoku he goes through a bunch of logical steps (drawing on previous knowledge and understanding often subconsciously) to solve the task.

Then comes the editing side of things, A coder checks for bugs and might tweak code to make it more simplistic – the aim is an elegant coding that solves every part of the initial problem. Again another rather logical process. It’s not a fun stage of things. It requires being critical and deliberately looking for flaws.

A songwriter tweaks odd words, and checks for jarring notes – the aim is a graceful piece of music and lyrics that conveys the message it’s meant to. It can seem more logical. It is when all the technique and knowledge is applied but it’s still done from an emotional position. If a word can be changed because the new word conveys more of the emotion intended it is. Words have meaning which goes beyond face value. They drudge up memories, thoughts and associations that the artistically creative draw upon. The same with colours, textures and visual effects. This can often be a painful process for the artistic. They are looking at the creation that has often come from a very vulnerable emotional part of them and they are examining it critically for flaws.

The wonderful part is both logical creativity and aristic creativity brings satisfaction to the creator once it is complete. Both have strived for beauty and elegance in what they have created and both get the same sense of achievement when they manage it, they have simply done so by drawing on different states of mind. One the logical need to solve a problem, the other the emotional need to solve what is also considered a problem of some sort. The problems are just set by different things physical needs or emotional/moral needs.

It also comes intuitively. Neither task requires the problem solver to tell their brain which method of creativity to use. I’ve never had to sit down with a sudoku and tell my brain to turn off it’s emotions and just apply the logical things it’s learnt. It knows to do that. Likewise I never have to sit down to write a poem and tell my brain to focus on the relevant emotion. It knows to do that.

Most of the time we find ourselves better at one of these processes than the other, either drawing on our emotions or the logical knowledge we’ve picked up during our life. They both come with their stereotypes. The mad scientist who forgets everything but the speed of light and spends hours studying light’s properties but ten seconds putting their clothes on and the artistic person who doesn’t care if they’ve eaten as long as they’ve made the world think about the importance of love.

Different but both important and, in their own ways, both beautiful.