The Rotten Lemon of Enlightenment

Theories of Creativity

In preparation for my creative project and with the intention to make strong ties back to the unit I’ll be revising the readings and tutorial activities. I’ll be doing this with particular interest to how I can relate it back to my creative project. First up will be the Theories of Creativity (Davis, 2004).

Creativity is a hard thing to define as I believe it is a very personal experience that can be strongly influenced by the environment the individual finds themselves in. I think this is reinforced by the various theories in regards to creativity itself. All have a little truth to them for the masses but are likely true to the individual. What fits for them doesn’t always fit for others and just as what fits others doesn’t always fit them. For me it’s more about the bigger picture and picking what best suits you and your creativity. A good friend of mine didn’t want to share her ideas for a project in another unit which I found a little difficult to understand at first. Personally I like to share ideas freely and build on the ideas created by the ‘flow’ of the group. These new ideas excite me and push me to further build upon them privately. For reasons unknown to me this very thing I find helpful to my process could stifle hers. She could see it as a dilution of her ideas. However I digress, my point being that while these theories might not fit you perfectly they’ll help you understand your creativity and what works for you.

Sigmund Freud

First up is probably the most famous and controversial, Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalytic account. Putting aside Freud’s obsession with sex he did have an interesting point about the primary and secondary processes. One that I could possibly relate back to my creative project. According to Freud our thinking process could be broken into two different categories; the primary and secondary processes. The primary being a childlike regression where the mind is free, relaxed and able to fantasize without restriction – an ideal environment to be creative. While the secondary is the adultlike way of thinking where reality and logic restrict our thinking. So I could in corporate a childlike element into my portrait for the right side. Maybe even dig up a childhood portrait of myself. I could also use crayons as the medium.

Ernst Kris

Ernst Kris worked closely with Freud before coming up with his own slightly modified version. Like Freud he was also focused on sex but felt aggression was an important factor too. What an interesting pair these two would have made! Kris believe creativity was a preconscious activity and therefore ideas just happen as an “Eureka” moment and had very little to do with conscious thought. I couldn’t disagree more so on to the next!

Lawrence Kubie

Lawrence Kubie breaks down creativity into three states; the conscious, preconscious and unconscious. He claims the conscious and unconscious are rigid and uncreative. The conscious anchored in reality while the unconscious is vague and meanings hidden or repressed. However through various techniques you can reach the threshold between the two and understand the unconscious while remaining in a conscious state. It is the ability of the individual to access this state (preconscious) that determines their creativity. Another theory I don’t agree with personally. I believe we have a more active role in our ability to create than Kubie gives us credit for.

Harold Rugg

Harold Rugg ‘s theory although basically the same as Kubie’s does have one important difference that make’s it more feasible in my opinion. That the preconscious is a more easily attainable state than what Kubie would have us believe. Much like Freud and his theories on primary and secondary thinking the preconscious is the childlike state and the conscious is the adultlike state. The preconscious state brings the ideas to life while the conscious state brings them to reality.

To be continued…


Davis, G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendell/Hunt. Download .pdf handout

Ernst%20Kris (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from;

HaroldRugg (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from;

Lawrence%20Kubie (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from;

sigmund-freud-med (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from;

Understanding your creativity: Preparation

It’s important for anyone in the Creative Industries to understand their own creative process. I’ve already talked in previous posts about the Five Rules of Creativity and how closely they match my process.

Here are Harman, J. (2011)’s rules again as a reminder.

  1. Preparation
  2. Concentration
  3. Incubation
  4. Illumination
  5. Verification

By understanding your own process you are able to map out what limits and what encourages your creativity. In this post I have mapped out the Preparation stage in the diagram below. I call it “Birth of an Idea”. 

How ideas are made

What this diagram does is draw focus on important elements within the process itself. For me the key is how the mind processes and categorizes external information. For me it seems perception plays a pivotal role in the early stages of my creative process. Anything that alters or influences this will have a significant impact of the quantity and quality of my ideas before they have even been formed.

I personally have experimented with drugs (shocking I know) and have taken various medications. All of which have altered my ability to perceive in some way or another. I found with party drugs my perception would often focus on the obscure and irrelevant. More importantly however I noticed that very little of the information was ever processed and categorized. On the flip side I found medications killed my curiosity and therefore the amount of information I processed was also greatly reduced.

I’m not saying all my ideas dried up or were bad because I still was able to create some amazing work. I do however believe it was very restrictive and had an overall negative effect. I was basically handicapping my creativity at the earliest stages. A balance is key and with a clear perception you are really giving yourself the best possible chance to create and do your best work!


Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman.

Personal Creative Process

This week’s lecture was by John Harman and entitled “Personal Creative Process”. It’s style, pace and content was quite different from last weeks and to be honest I was a little skeptical. Maybe it was the fact John was older, from the UK and with what appeared to be a very dated PowerPoint presentation. The title page looked much like the blue screen and white text of a computer screen that has just shat itself. I could see the lecture room transform before my very eyes into a private library with floor to ceiling bookcases and a roaring fire. John sitting on an oversized wing backed chair stoking his pipe with a huge dog even by great dane standards between him and the fire-place.


Private library for illustrative purposes

I’m having enough trouble staying awake thankyou very much the last thing I need right now is a lecture that’s going to knock me out quicker than a couple of zanax! Why did i get out of bed…bed would be awesome…those soft…pillows…matress… Then John began the lecture the vision faded and it was back to reality.

Much like last weeks lecture this week’s turned out to be quite enjoyable after my initial doubts faded. I must also point out that none of my first impressions were in any way John’s fault but in fact me falling victim to an over active imagination!

What I really liked about Harman, J. (2011)’s lecture was his 5 rules of creativity.

  1. Preparation – Be a sponge. Take in as much information as you can. Read, listen, watch and learn. Be a general knowledge quiz night king! Know your domain/area of expertise in side and out. Make it your life because it will be how you make a living.
  2. Concentration – Be single-minded in your focus.
  3. Incubation – Walk away. Take a break. Meditate and relax.
  4. Illumination – Often comes during the incubation period when you are relaxed and can let your mind wander.
  5. Verification – Breakthrough. Get it down quickly before idea fades!

He basically described my creative process which before now was somewhat unknown to me. I was strongly aware of the preparation and incubation rules/elements but the rest were still undefined in my mind. So for an old boy from the UK with a dated presentation John did alright and helped me learn a little more about myself and my creative processes. Who’d have thought someone who has enjoyed such a successful life would know what they were talking about! Kids today they have no god damn respect!

Extra points go to Harman, J. (2011) for using his real life experiences to illustrate points taking them out of the realm of academia and into reality. Also of importance was his advice to entertain all ideas and if you ever find yourself in “the zone” keep going. You’ll crash eventually but when your hot you’ll melt faces with your awesomeness better than Charlie Sheen ever could! Plus it would be constructive and not a drug induced delussion…so maybe not the best example. I should probably have thought that through a little better but alas I don’t have tiger blood pumping through my veins. I’m only human!

In all seriousness it was a great lecture from a great guy! Come to think of it he made last weeks lecturer Dr Chris Spoors seem a little too slick. Like saw dust in the transmission slick!

Additional thoughts and reflections on this lecture can be found Personal Creative Process after thought…


Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman.

library-books-leather-chair-study-office-interior-design-home-ideas1. (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved March 19, 2011, from;

Shmevey. (2010). I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen! . Retrieved Mar 19, 2011 from