Creativity. I’ve been having a lot of issues with it lately. Not because I’ve lost it—can you ever actually lose something that lives so deep inside your soul?—but because I’ve been trying to establish a better communication with it. And this has turned out to be a lot more challenging than I’ve ever thought.
Believe it or not, the fact that I’m not a designer—and yes, you can study fashion and not be even close to becoming a designer—doesn’t mean I don’t need creativity in my life. In a way, I believe we all need it and manifest it somehow in whatever it is that we do, but in my particular case I need it because I’m a scholar. Being a scholar, more than teaching or “being an expert in your field” (whatever that means), requires you to be able to absorb a huge quantity of ideas, and form your own out of all this input of information you are feeding your brain with. Believe it or not, this requires an immense amount of creativity. And doing it well is a sort of art.
As I’m struggling to write a thesis, to complete classes and their corresponding coursework, and at the same time enjoy every single moment of it without worrying too much about the future—which might include job/Ph.D. applications and the scary responsibility of having to become a real person at some point—I’ve also come to realise I’ve been struggling to find a balance in my creativity. I’ve been struggling to find a point where I can create because I must and I can create because I feel like it, without doing too much or too little of any of them. And I’ve also been struggling to find a balance between the different forms of creative output that I normally enjoy.
I know I was the one who chose to get into this Master’s degree, so even the creative process I say I have to go through was my choice, but it is still a lot more restrained and, to an extent, less optional than the freeform creation of whatever goes on, for example, in this blog. And in terms of the form of my creativity, I’ve been focusing a little too much on writing/reading, but I’ve come to miss other forms of creativity I normally enjoy, photography and drawing being the first on the list. But, somehow, whenever I have some free time to actually engage in them, I tend to consciously avoid them and, instead, engage in a less physical form of creativity that allows my mind to do all the work without having to actually move—like seeing films, art, or listening to real music.
I’ve blamed myself more than once of being lazy for not wanting to go out and take pictures, or cook a really nice meal, or sit down and draw, but now I’ve come to realise this doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped being creative. I’ve come to understand, finally, that creativity, and the creation of pretty much everything—from artwork to actual objects—can happen completely inside the imagination, without ever having to be physically embodied. And this is something that I am completely grateful for.
But I’m still struggling for balance. I guess finding it would include being able to embody part of my creativity and live part of it completely inside my mind. And it would include being able to explore different creative outputs in relation to what my body and my mind need in specific moments.
This last part, I believe, is key to creativity. But it is something we’ve all come, somehow, to ignore almost completely. Creativity is not about others; it’s not about producing an output for others to see or feel or enjoy. Creativity is something we must do for ourselves and to enlighten our own path towards happiness, human experience and, in general, life.
One of my classmates mentioned yesterday that none of the fashion designers of today are true artists, precisely because they can’t fully engage with their personal process of creativity. To most fashion designers, creativity has become the process that requires, as the main outcome, a product that is accepted by the industry and by the public; it requires something—usually some type of garment or concept—that others like, that others want. And although I wouldn’t go as far as to assume every fashion designer in the world goes through the creative process in this way, I do think it is what they are taught to do. And that’s why fashion isn’t so great anymore.
But there are some trying to rescue fashion from darkness and bring it back to greatness. Some that are trying to restore fashion as the collective process it is, as a way of restoring human connections through clothing and our embodied experience. Some that are reviving a truthful process of creativity, where our human experience, our feelings and emotions, together with our natural, physical needs, are brought together into a single fashionable experience. And here, I believe, is were the future of fashion lies. Not in being able to massively produce clothes, in the ability to become the most fashionable individual, or in the incessant acceleration of the flux of trends; but in experiencing creativity as a true process of knowing ourselves, of becoming better humans, and of slowing down and actually living life.