Natural Born Creativity Killers

~ 17 November 2006 ~

The Fall 2006 issue of Create Magazine contains an excellent article titled “Natural Born Creativity Killers.” In it, author Bob Kodzis creates an eloquent construct of ideas that encapsulate our struggle to overcome fear in creative endeavors.

From the introduction:

Fear is the Adolf Hitler of creativity killers. It is responsible for supressing and destroying more brilliant ideas than all of the other creativity killers combined. It is a core ingredient of the most potent creative poisons. Fear limits the volume and dilutes the quality of the ideas we generate. It radically constricts the judgement of creative directors, bosses and clients.

Kodzis identifies top creativity killers, some of which include casting premature judgement upon ideas in their infancy, establishing unrealistic deadlines, dealing with managers whose moods change with every iteration, committing creative suicide through lack of discipline, and doing more of the same.

Whenever I hear someone utter the rationale “…because we’ve always done it that way,” I am forced to suppress the urge to throttle them. For creative professionals, it is both insult and injury wrapped in one backward reaching statement. The essence of creativity is the pursuit of something different. The antithesis of creativity is to keep doing what has always been done.

I’m reminded of Greg Storey’s confession upon turning thirty-five:

There is no secret sauce to what I have done with one exception, I never stop working on my confidence.

Hear hear, brother. In my book, there’s no better tranquilizer for fear than confidence.



Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   Ben ~ 17 November 2006

You should really check out the book “Art and Fear.” Sorry I don’t have the two authors names or the ISBN. Written from the perspective of the fine arts, it is equally applicable to any creative endeavor. The key to creativity is…work. I highly recommend it to everyone. It will help “non-creative” types understand art and why we “creatives” do what we do. It also helps articulate the problems and fears we face as we try to create.

2   Cameron Moll ~ 17 November 2006

Is this it?

3   Ben ~ 17 November 2006

Yes, that’s the book! I highly recommend it. An art professor required it for my “Business practices for artists” class.We would read chapters and discuss them in class. Throw in field trips to practicing and successful artists studios, sprinkled with the practical wisdom of our artistically successful professor (the painter Robert Marshall) and one had a rich learning experience. Good memories and very useful even to this day.

4   Nate K ~ 17 November 2006

“The antithesis of creativity is to keep doing what has always been done.”

That is an excellent quote!

5   Justin ~ 17 November 2006

HA! I’ve been thinking about writing about this very topic. Maybe more along the lines of specific things that can kill creativity.

I used to work under a manager that seem to have these very same characteristics and I never really thought about it in this since, but maybe it was fear. I don’t think he really knew much about web design though, yet he was still a manager over the group. I guess that could cause some fear. He pretty much drove my creativity into the ground, almost to the point that I was thinking about switching careers and getting away from web design altogether. Fortunately for me, I switched positions and my creative drive came back with a little time. I still occasionally have to deal with him, and it’s frustrating, because as hard as I try and just can’t seem to understand him or his decisions.

6   Nate K ~ 17 November 2006

RE: Justin
Man, I totally understand how that can kill your creativity. Working for someone who is fickle and changes their mind everyday is enough to instill fear. I worked for someone like this, and I lost the drive for creativity - simply because I knew he would change his mind everyday. It left me stagnant, honestly. This was not just with creativity in design - it was with creativity in programming. He would manage the projects, but never understand the timeframe. So, I would cave and rush things - and it never turned out as I would have liked.

I ended up leaving there, but I think I still have that fear - simply from the past experiences.

7   Justin ~ 17 November 2006

Thanks Nate K. It’s nice to be reminded that I’m not the only that’s had that experience. I will admit that I still have that fear from my past experience too.

8   Carl Peterson ~ 17 November 2006

Another big “YES” for the book Art & Fear. I coincidentally just bought it earlier this week, and am currently in the middle of it.

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, criticism, embarrassment. All kinds of fears and worries can keep great concepts from coming to fruition. Every designer would benefit from reading this book.

9   Cynthia ~ 17 November 2006

Well, I will be interviewing you tomorrow for a little while hopefully, so I’m doing my research. I just wanted to say that I wish newspapers adopted more of that creative attitude instead of the “but we’ve always done it this way” laziness. For that, you should be knighted. So Sir Moll, I will see you tomorrow night at VCC.

10   Xakep ~ 17 November 2006

I highly recommend the book.

11   Observer ~ 18 November 2006

No more drop caps for your titles? Ha…I just noticed. Back to the discussion now.

12   Leonardo Melendez ~ 19 November 2006

The right post at the right time. Much appreciated Mr. Moll and thank you very much for sharing with us enthusiasts in our infant stages.

13   Cameron Moll ~ 20 November 2006

Observer - For the time being, drop caps have disappeared.


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