Is Creative Education Bad For Creativity?

creative process
Written by Laura Brandon

A few or so months ago I read a really interesting blog post by my friend Claudia on whether or not creative education courses are actually helpful towards a person’s creativity. This really sparked an interest with me and I’ve just itching to write about it. As I’m sure you guys are aware, opinions are something I have a lot of, so I thought I’d stick my 2 cents in here.

http://falcieridesigns.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/is-a-creative-education-bad-for-creativity/ (The link to my friend’s article)

creative process

Point of View

The first point Claudia makes in her post is that she is writing from the point of view of a mature student who, before joining a creative education course, already had a certain style developed; whereas obviously, the difference with me is that I went into a creative education course straight from Sixth Form, which, I think, was quite limiting creatively. To come from a school/college background, where you’re unsure of yourself and your work anyway, straight into another academic situation means there’s really no time for you to just create for the fun of it, develop a style and fully enjoy what you are doing.

Between GCSE level and degree study there is a lot of pressure to design to get the best mark you can. Despite that, I loved doing my A level work, and I found my teachers encouraging of the way I designed, and the whole atmosphere was lovely to be around (there was only two of us in the class!). However, I found that at university, there is a lot more pressure to design to fit within the criteria and what will get you the best mark (we were paying to be there, after all).

Creative Education Can Be Limiting

I think in terms of design, a creative education course can be very limiting in the way it teaches you. Obviously, the technical aspects of a course (especially one which includes design and manufacture) are highly beneficial, because there is logic and method to it. However, defining and grading creativity is a totally different thing. Which person (or a team of people) is to dictate what is and isn’t art? People have totally different tastes, and I think that, while you’re presenting your work to be marked, you will always be mindful of the person who is marking it, and will always try to appeal to their tastes, rather than your own, which will naturally be limiting to your creativity. Course tutors may protest that their personal tastes have no bearing on a mark, but in some way they do, whether intentional or not.

Another thing that students in creative education courses may experience is conflicting criticism and advice on which direction to take their work. This can be limiting ( and not to mention stressful) and students can end up really confused and trying to design to cater for the tastes of several people, meaning that they end up hating whatever they create.

More Independence with Work

An argument could be made that  students needs to be more independent with their work and just go with their own ideas, regardless of  their tutors’ directions. In an ideal world we could do this; however, like I said before, pressure from all sides makes it difficult, especially when you are so conscious of marking criteria and are constantly reminded of them. It takes a very brave student to be able to take that risk, and still come out with a decent degree. One of the reasons students are not as independent with their work as they perhaps should be is that they are constantly trying to impress, or following advice from lectures. And why shouldn’t they put their trust in the people paid to teach them? It’s only logical they would. However, this is another point as to why a creative education course can actually limit, rather than encourage creativity.

Pressure to Perform

One of the problems with creative education courses is that there is so much pressure to perform in a certain way that you lose your inspiration and passion for the subject. It’s such a shame when it gets to a point when you no longer consider being creative fun, and no longer design/draw/sew, etc just for the pleasure of seeing your work take shape. I’ve also started putting pressure on myself when I’m drawing/designing for the sake of it; my work needs to be “perfect”, and “practical”, and blah blah blah. I have to remind myself that this is just for me, nobody else. And it’s a great feeling when you can separate creativity from the pressure of gaining a mark, and do something “just because” you like doing it.

Claudia also makes a good point about how people used to develop craft and learn through apprenticeships, etc. It’s a shame this is rarely done anymore.

So these are my thoughts, straight from the top of my head, and I’ll leave you with a quote from Claudia (go check out her post – it brilliant!):

“A creative should always be true to their own abilities, their own style. It’s why art is diverse.”

This post is part of Laura Brandon’s Fiery Fashion Series.

photo credit: Abby Lanes via photopin cc

About the author

Laura Brandon

Laura is a 24 year old Fashion Studies graduate, currently running a small fashion illustration business. Check it out here - www.facebook.com/polkadotteapotdesigns . She also has a life style blog talking about everything from beauty and fashion, to relationships and life in general. Visit the blog here - www.polkadotteapotblog.wordpress.com