A Short Piece

Beauty and Art Inspire Creativity

Will our desire to create increase with our experience of beauty and meaning?

Have you ever met someone who thinks they aren’t creative? A lot of people, right? Very few people are willing to say “I’m creative,” and the people who are creative just seem lucky. And indeed, there probably is luck involved, but what if part of the problem is that we need to stop “trying to be creative” and instead “try to experience beauty?” What if like meaning, creativity is something we find indirectly more so than directly? What if it’s by directly seeking beauty and art that we can indirectly cultivate our creativity (and sense of meaning)?

I think beauty inspires us to create. Just think of all the kids who play Final Fantasy and then want to make a videogame; think of all the movies we’ve seen that have made us want to try film ourselves. No, not all art is beautiful, but there’s something about experiencing great art that makes us want to produce great art. Perhaps it’s the realization that our experiences can be captured, that something so wonderful can exist — it’s hard to say.

I think this also happens when we see a beautiful sunset: we want to take a picture of it, to create an image and art. And there’s even a sense in which we want to create by becoming the beauty and art we experience: when we take a walk on the beach, we can feel a desire to be part of the wonder around us, to preserve it in our lives forever. Beauty stirs becoming and new life.

Elaine Scarry notes that beauty inspires creation, and in addition to her arguments, my experiences, and what I have seen in others, I believe there’s “reason to believe” this is true. But does creativity require beauty? If not, then we cannot say that an increase in aesthetic sensibilities will correspond with an increase in creativity. However, I think there is “reason to believe” beauty inspires creativity, as there is “reason to believe” a beautiful and artistic society is a society where there will be more creativity. Even if not, I certainly want to live in a more beautiful world.

If we want to be more creative, we should surround ourselves with whatever it is we find beautiful. If that’s weightlifting, my bet is that the more we lift weights, the more ideas we’ll have for starting a weightlifting business. If we find beauty in family, then we should spend more time with them. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people get the impression that the way they get more creative is by sitting down at a desk with a blank piece of paper and waiting. And wait they do.

Creativity comes from living more than thinking but not from just trudging through life. There is a particular way to live that generates creativity, and I think that way of life is one that seeks and dives into meaning. And if I am correct that meaning and beauty go together, then creativity is found in living a life that we find beautiful, for that is a life we will find meaningful. So if we want to be more creative, we should go out and seek beauty. The more we do, the more we’ll create.

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