Investing in your CreativityThis September, as the first of the FCAD Talks series, Ryerson welcomed Canadian author and musician, David Usher to speak about his new book Let the Elephants Run. During the panel, Usher took questions and offered advice to students about their own creative processes, driving home both the title and the theme of the evening: Creativity Is For Everyone.

For too long we have perpetuated the notion that creativity only strikes an enigmatic few. That it’s something we’re either born with, or spend our lives being envious of. But creativity is not a gift, it’s a skill; and like every skill it is something that can be practised and learned. As Usher put it “creativity is an investment”. Unfortunately, this is where it becomes easier to buy into the inheritance myth. When working to acquire a tangible, hard skill, measuring progress is fairly straightforward. There are benchmarks put in place and reaching each one indicates that you’ve achieved a certain level of expertise. However, when it comes to creative and artistic practises growth is much more subjective and difficult to track, which can make investments— of time, energy, and attention drawn away from other pursuits— feel as though they are not worth it in the long run.

Despite frustrations felt early on in the the learning curve, these investments are almost certainly worth your while. All one has to do is take a look at some of the more prominent buzzwords emerging from the job market today. Terms like innovation and thought leadership all boil down to one key characteristic: creativity. It is important to note that this terminology is frequently implemented in industries that are not traditionally viewed as creative. While it is probably true that some people are more naturally inclined towards it than others, this may also come down to perception. Designers, filmmakers, and others who engage in explicitly artistic work are more frequently recognized, but these so labelled ‘creatives’ do not hold a monopoly on the classification. David Usher’s own career trajectory is a perfect example of this. He has moved between the traditional fine arts and his work in tech startups, most notably as Director of the Human Impact Lab at Concordia University. So just because you don’t want to be an artist, that does not mean there isn’t room for creativity in your career. Creativity is not a finite resource. It’s for everyone.


Click for more information on the Human Impact Lab 

Click to read Let the Elephants Run


Article by Dusty Moreira-Lima

Photos by Aya Ladki