What is it in us that makes us want to create? Why do we want to take nothing and fill it with something? Why do we desire to take that which is inside us, be it an idea, question or emotion and express it through colour and shape? Why is this urge satisfied for only a moment? Why do we create?

For some of us the question of ‘why do I do this?’ plagues us as it evasively makes its way into our minds. Once we stop for a moment to ponder this simple question, its importance and dominance in our brain grows stronger and stronger as each answer drives a path for more questions of self-reasoning.

We subject our selves to creative mood swings as we fly around the spectrum of emotion—from the pleasures of witnessing the works of others to ecstasy as we manage to produce a piece of work which balances our mind and body, and just feels right. Sometimes it’s anguish felt when we see someone provoking emotion better than we can or even anger, after hours of our time and portions of our souls are spent, yet we still can’t quite get it right.

We subject our selves to creative mood swings
as we fly around the spectrum of emotion

And of course there are the clients. We become creatives for hire, subjecting our work to the whims of the client as they make it a little bluer or make the logo bigger. But before we go into why designers design, let’s ponder why creatives create.

To create is to solve a problem. To answer questions. At least this might be the case for any piece of creative work that means anything. Sometimes the question is ‘how can I evoke an emotion?’ or, ‘how do I stop them from forgetting?’. It might also lay on the other side of the above, in that rather than trying to evoke something, it must solve the problem of how to capture an emotion.

For ourselves

For almost anyone who has written or illustrated or made any mark of any sort, it’s no secret that a lot of personal discovery can be made during the process. Through illustrating a problem (an emotion or personal issue for example), we are forcing our selves to truly look at it under a different light – to dissect and understand it. We take ownership of the problem and turn it into what we want it to be.

In trying to create something (relatively) beautiful from something ugly, we must seek-out the silver lining. We must break down the problem or emotion or question, so we can start by illustrating its skeleton in an effort to find a way in which it can be deemed beautiful or disarmed. Through doing so, we kill our demons of anger or ignorance. If an emotion plagues us, we illustrate it or illustrate something that will dissolve it. If we do not understand a topic to the degree we so desire, we research it and learn how best to shout and scream it to our audience and ourselves, in the hope of teaching ourselves and others, so the shadows of ignorance have light thrown upon them.

We seek to give balance to the world in the form of
paying back the favor of inspiration and thought

Perhaps this is another way in which we give ourselves pleasure and reason to create? To effect others as we do our selves. To help us and others grow and develop into better versions of ourselves. Is it selfish to take joy and pride in this? After all, through teaching and inspiring others, it could be said we are trying to prove our selves worthy, prove that we count and that we are smarter or more talented than those we teach and inspire. That’s a little cynical for my tastes, even if it is true for some. I feel that through creating we are taking part in a conversation with all those whose work we’ve seen and all those who will see what we’re creating. We are trying to inspire and teach others as other have done so for us. In creating, we seek to give balance to the world in the form of paying back the favor of inspiration and thought.

For others

Maybe this is where our high comes from – when we just get something right and feel as if we’ve created something worth creating? Maybe the high hides in our work, waiting to come out when we’ve managed to do something that is, at least to us at the time, worth saying back to the work which made us want to create in the first place. Perhaps the high, that electric feeling that runs over our skin and rushes through our veins comes to us when what we produce adequately reflects and hopefully excels our inspirations. Is this where the balance lies? When we put as much beauty back into the world as we’ve taken in? Is this why we are continuously driven to create? There is infinitely more beauty in the world than we could ever give back, just as there is infinitely more questions in our minds than we could answer—it’s as if we’re in a creative debt and we are trying to desperately to pay back the loan. So we create, over and over, refining our skills so we can better talk to our inspirations.

So … We create to give back to the inspiration pool and converse with those whose work we plucked out of it. We also create for our selves, in an effort to enhance our understanding, to control our emotions and to get the high of doing so. But what about those on the sidelines? Those who aren’t necessarily creatives (or don’t consider themselves to be artistic) who are on the outside, peering in? Those who hang the art – taking from the pool, but not putting anything back? The art admirers and collectors. The clients. The audiences. What are we giving them? Why do we create for them?

That which we create goes on to be
representative of our surrounding and our time

A lot of what we try to elicit from our audiences is the same as what we try to elicit from our selves and our contemporaries. So let’s take a step back. Through a grander scope, that which we create goes on to be representative of our surrounding and our time. Whether what we create represents our time or if our time represents our creations is a question for another article. All we can do is continue to create to the best of our abilities and know that we are unknowingly contributing to a marker in time that represents the present.

Then there is the work which has the specific purpose of reminding us of an exact, substantial moment in an effort to evoke all the emotion and memories that go along with it. It’s not just us that need to remember such events, but all of society and it is the artist’s role to be the record keeper.

As designers, we try to do the same. We try to evoke an emotion, sometimes a very specific one, to teach and inform people of something or to try and get them to consider a message. The difference being that all that emotion and thought provoking belongs to someone else. We’re just fortunate enough that we figured out a way to get paid for dishing out our reasoning and processes so we can be creative as a service. The playing field is a little different, but successfully designing, creating for others, communicating the messages of others, gives the same rush and excitement as successfully doing it for ourselves.

[is when] our inspiration and thoughts
align perfectly, the reason we create?

Be it for ourselves, for a specific or open audience, a client or whomever, the act of creating gives the same satisfaction. Is this satisfaction, this high as we manage to get our clever idea to work in an attractive package so well that our inspiration and thoughts align perfectly, the reason we create? Do we create to give back to those who gave to us, knowing the work we produced is having an intelligent conversation with that which inspired it? Or is it because we find happiness in knowing others find something in our own work? Is that selfless or selfish? Hmmmm. All these words and I’m still not sure if we create for ourselves or for others? All I know for sure is that when I do what I do, and a smirk slides over my lips I can’t help but feel that the actions I’m undertaking feel like the perfect actions for me. I hope that everyone is as lucky as us, no matter what their job, that from time to time they just feel like they’ve created something beautiful.

Enough out of me, what do you think? Why does being creative give you joy?