Creativity as Process

Today I had the good fortune to have lunch with two electrical engineers. I mean PhD’s from Rice University genius mentalities that are much smarter than the average bear kind of engineers. One of them was my Dear Friend (DF) and the other one was a friend/business associate of DF.

They are busy creating a company called Northworks Digital Factory, that is all about 3‐D printing. If I were smarter in the ways of engineering, I could explain this better. However, all I can say is they make 3‐D printers and they make things with 3‐D printers. They make art objects for artists and they also make medical devices for various biomedical engineering companies.

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This is one of their 3‐D printers. Don’t ask me how this works. For all I know it runs on Fairy Dust. The important thing is that they know how it works and how to build it. I just look at it all and say something along the lines of, “Oh cool.”

We didn’t spend a lot of time today talking about engineering. What we discussed was creativity and the creative process. How do we look at something or a situation and come up with a solution or a process for making things work.

NASA and the process of working on the Apollo mission to the moon was one segment of discussion. What was attempted could not be done in the time frame that they had. Yet, it was done and we went to the moon several times.

We also talked about story building. What works as a good idea and how to bring that idea to fruition. Have an idea, think about it from all different perspectives, try things out, make some mistakes and learn, and keep moving forward.

Engineering, science, art, writing all involve this creative process. Keep thinking and keep developing ideas. I heard the author Neil Gaiman lecture once. He said that if you want to be a writer, then write. Finish what you are writing. You will learn more from completing a process than looking at something, deciding it sucks, and then start on something else. Once you are done, maybe your project doesn’t suck after all. Gaiman even has a new book out called, Art Matters: Because Imagination Can Change The World. 

A couple of weeks ago I found a perfect example of the creative process at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I was amazed at a collection of pieces made out of gem stones called, Life In Stone. Gerd Dreher made animal carvings from all types of stone. For example, here is an orangutan that was made from one piece of obsidian. I was awed by the intricate lapidary work in this piece with incredible detail of the physical form.

Another animal carving I admired was this peacock. This one animal was made up of 350 pieces of stones such as quartz, tiger eye, agate, and others. Nothing on these animals involves paint. All of the colors come from the stones themselves.

Since I am neither an engineer nor a lapidist, I will continue with my writing. Story ideas are my creative and artistic work. Words are my tools.

Until next week.….….