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Don't You Have to be an Artist to Have a Creative Mind?

“Why do we assume that a rare and special ‘artistic’ talent is required for drawing? We don’t make that assumption about other kinds of abilities.”

Author Betty Edwards, known for her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, goes on to say, “If you can catch a baseball, thread a needle, or hold a pencil and write your name, you can learn to draw skillfully, artistically, and creatively.” [From her book Drawing on the Artist Within.]

Maybe one reason people think they are not creative is that we are given so many examples in school and the media of eminent, big name artists and creators who have made notable impacts on the world.

And, not being one of those (at least not yet), we think that means, “I’m not creative.”

But we make use of creative thought and problem-solving all the time, even if we are not making “artwork.”

Personal growth psychologist Abraham Maslow once commented, “We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.”

Creating – whether it is amazing, or simple and mundane – can satisfy us deeply, helping us learn so much more about our inner lives. Not to mention help deal with problems we have.

This image is bird pins made of scrap wood, paint and metal, from the book The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946.

Most of the people in the camps were not professional artists – they were doctors, dentists, farmers, shop owners, teachers.

Yet they created a variety of furniture, sculpture, paintings and writings, performed skits and played music.

Gloria Steinem pointed out: “Most art in the world does not have a capital ‘A,’ but is a way of turning everyday objects into personal expressions.”

She also said that telling ourselves “I can’t write,” “I can’t paint” (or whatever) is really saying, “I can’t meet some outside standard. I’m not acceptable as I am.” [From my article Creating to be authentic, not perfect.]

In her book Understanding Creativity, Jane Piirto, PhD declares, “Having scored high on an intelligence test is not necessary. We are all creative. Those who are more creative than others have learned to take risks, to value complexity, to see the world, or their own surroundings with naiveté.

“They have learned to be creative, or their creativity has not been pushed down, stifled, and diminished by sarcasm and abuse.”

Another part of our concept of creativity may be that it is a “gift” or unique inspiration from a muse, rather than something we can develop.

That attitude is a self-limiting belief that can stop us from even trying to be creative. I will be exploring that more in coming posts.

Don't You Have to be an Artist to Have a Creative Mind?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2010). Don't You Have to be an Artist to Have a Creative Mind?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Jun 2010
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