Your Creations Are Original. Really.

I’m still thinking about the false premise “I’m not creative.” For those who believe creativity means doing something unique, so new and different that it feels like we’ve never seen or heard it before, a fear that they are unable to make something truly original keeps them from owning their own creativity.

Plenty of creative people (Julia Cameron, Anne Lamott, and Elizabeth Gilbert, to name a few) argue that just by being you, anything from your mind and your hands will have some essence of originality. If you are true to yourself as you create, the thing made will show at least a little of who you are. Your fingerprints, whether metaphorical or literal, are all over your work.

The best argument I’ve seen for this in a long time is a series of intriguing ads by Canon Australia. Their video series (THE LAB) includes clever experiments related to creativity. With photography in particular, it’s easy to feel that the images aren’t original because the camera appears to do all the work. Theses videos prove otherwise.

The most powerful experiment is THE LAB: BLANK. Six photographers are sent, one at a time, into an empty studio to take photos. Everyone’s solution to this problem — what to photograph in an empty space — is different, and even when two photographers focus on the same detail (the apparently blank white space isn’t actually bare), the images they capture are different.

Other videos in the series are also worth watching. They show how the simplest props can be used to create unusual work by limiting options, that taking time to think before you act can enhance your creative experience, and that what you believe about your subject will be reflected in your work.

It’s a big time cliché because it’s true: we all see the world a little differently. If we take the time to communicate honestly what we are seeing and feeling, our work will be original, whether it’s a photo, an essay, or a painting.

Take the time to look. Then show us your world.

That’s all there is to it.

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Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

8 thoughts on “Your Creations Are Original. Really.”

  1. I remember seeing Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech “Make Good Art” on YouTube several years ago, and that was the big push I needed to finally start writing my novel. I had been worried that I would never come up with an original idea so why bother even trying. But I truly believe that no two people have ever read the same book since we all view and interpret things so differently, and so it makes sense that hundreds of people could tell the same story or photograph the same thing and each would end up creating a unique piece of art. I hadn’t seen these Canon ads before, thank you for sharing them! People are awesome.

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