There are three and only three ways to create. They come from connective, component and blank page creativity. That's it. Those three. If you want to "make new things or think of new ideas" as Webster defines creativity, you must do one of these three.
Do you see disparate things you can pull together? That's the path to connective creativity.
Do you see complex things you can take apart? That leads to component creativity.
Do you see things that aren't there? That's the start of blank page creativity. (Or a new M. Knight Shyamalan film.)
At the inaugural HATCH Latin American experience in the jungle in Panama, three young women shared with us examples of the different types of creativity.
Butterscotch - Connective Creativity
Butterscotch creates music out of the same twelve notes and basic sounds everyone else uses. But she connects them in ways others do not. At HATCH we watched her loop things in real time.
First she laid down the beat. She's a beat boxer. So she didn't need a drum, just her vocal chords and facial muscles. Then she used her guitar to lay down some basic chord progressions and added some musical highlights that sounded like brass instruments - all with her vocal chords. With those three looping underneath in supporting roles, she sang - beautifully.
Her creative magic came in the way she connected existing ideas in new ways.
Stefani De La O - Component Creativity
Stefani De La O innovates "in the details". Her Nomadic Collector collection of high end hand bags and luggage was born out of her need "to see how the pieces come together". She studied architecture, art history and fashion design so she could do that. But it's rooted in the components.
As Stefani explained to me, her brain takes in everything. It doesn't filter out information that others see as unnecessary. To her everything matters, everything is important. She doesn't see the forest. She doesn't see the trees. She sees the veins in the leaves, the different textures in the bark, the moisture flowing up the core of the tree, the roots interacting with the life-giving soil around the tree.
She doesn't see handbags. She sees cows and cotton plants and iron ore.
It's that super power of deep insight into the components that make her creations so special.
Bethany Halbreich - Blank Page Creativity
Bethany Halbreich is a painter who sees things that simply aren't there and never have been there. She told me how she'd start a painting with a squiggle and build from there.
Bethany is not just creative herself, but the cause of creativity in others. A few months ago, Bethany founded Paint the World, a nonprofit devoted to harnessing the power of "blank page creativity."
"Our goal is to inspire creativity and collaboration by facilitating artistic experiences in underserved communities that have little to no access to art education.
We place large blank canvases and art supplies in these communities, and watch to see what evolves, what symbols might appear that could help us understand the unconscious undercurrent of a community. Everyone builds on each other's work. We auction the finished pieces and the proceeds always go directly back into the communities."
There's real power here. Whatever is your preferred mode of creativity - connective, component or blank page - the multiplier is in collaboration. That was one of the lessons of HATCH Latin America, an amazing experience connecting creative catalysts to hatch a better world together.
Implications for you
Don't misread the point. You do not have to pick one route. Do experiment with the different forms of creativity. You never know what's going to happen if you push your boundaries or break out of your box. The important point is to appreciate others' modes of creativity.
It's all about collaboration. It's all about complementing your own strengths with others' strengths. Understand your own strengths. Understand your gaps. Then find others to fill them.