An Activity To Clarify Your Creative Identity

What is your unique lens? How would you describe your creative style? If those questions have you saying “Uhh…” you’re not alone. For many of us, it can be difficult to talk about ourselves or find the right words to describe our point of view.

Brandon Viney, Group Creative Director at Google, saw this challenge come up for several of the people he mentors and created an activity to help them define their creative identity.

This exercise will help you draw from the people and things you find inspiring to craft a charter to guide your work. By clarifying your creative identity, you can find focus, connect to more meaning at work, and better communicate your value to others.

Hear more about finding inspiration and mentoring in our Creative Confidence Podcast chat with Brandon

 

Creative Identity Exercise

Try this exercise in whatever form feels most comfortable for you—writing down ideas solo, or as a discussion with a trusted colleague or friend.

1. Find inspiration — What type of work do you do or seek to do? Find five people in that profession whose work inspires you. These are your “creative muses.” Explain why they resonate with you.

2. Drill down — Choose five projects from each of your five muses that speak to you. Explain why these projects inspire you.

3. Examine the why — Take your answers to the above questions and group them into themes. What patterns do you notice? Now, create a statement that incorporates what inspires you into what you hope to create.

Painter Chuck Close is one of Brandon’s muses. As he studied his work, he found appreciation for Chuck’s ability to make an image feel alive. An example statement for Brandon might be “I hope to create moving images that feel alive and emotional.”

Brandon says this approach works well because it’s easier for most people to speak about the work of others. Most of us can share what we like, but it’s harder to explain why we like it. “In that discovery is the beginning of your creative identity,” he says.

A long-time DJ, Brandon draws parallels to the world of music, specifically hip-hop and house music, where there’s a longstanding tradition of sampling tracks. “You’re taking elements and combining them to make something new and interesting,” he says. No one will have the same five creative muses as you, or the same work from each of those muses, or the same explanation for what they like about that work.

Continue refining your creative identity by narrowing in on the most impactful elements and periodically pulling in new muses or work. Expect your creative identity to evolve over time.

 


Learn exercises to overcome the common barriers to creativity in our course Unlocking Creativity.


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