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Painting gold coinsDuring the first part of my interview with CPA, Lynda Campbell, we talked about the creativity in sharing financial reports to communicate the right information to the right audience. In part two we talk about what creativity means to her personally.

How would you define creativity in its most basic form?

Creativity is being able to use your imagination to solve a problem or an issue.

Do you view it as both right and left brain?

Yes, because in my business it’s being able to use my imagination to see the problems the way other people in my company or a banker does and be able to provide them with the answers.

In your business, it’s being able to get a feel for what the client needs. You have to use your imagination to do that and put yourself in their shoes. And then be able to turn around and give them back what they need.

For you, it’s using your wonderful, artistic talents. For me, it’s putting numbers down on paper in a way that makes sense and answers the questions.

Do you feel that creativity always has to have some tangible outcome?

Creativity is being able to use your imagination to solve a problemA doctor has to be creative to figure out what’s wrong with patients. A patient goes in with an ache or a pain. He’s got to use all of his knowledge and some creativity to pull all those different pieces of knowledge to come up with a solution to a person’s problem. Think of an attorney giving his summation speech to a jury, pulling together everything that’s been heard in court and maybe even a little bit that hasn’t (laughs) to come up with a presentation to the jury to sway them to his side of the argument. For an attorney who’s a corporate attorney it’s a little different. The form is already spelled out for them, but not totally. They’re filling in the blanks.

Different clients want different things, and they have to come up with a way to meet their needs. So, I think we all use it to some extent, but we don’t necessarily call it creative. We think of it as just using knowledge that we have.

Why do you think society as a whole only references creativity as artwork?

It’s a common perception. We’ve used creative to describe something an artist has done for so long that we kind of forget that creativity is a process. When you create something you’re not necessarily creating new colors — or a line is a line, a pencil is a pencil, a paintbrush is a paintbrush. And I’m oversimplifying, not to be insulting. But you’re using all of that with the talent you’ve been given to create something. We all use our knowledge to create whatever our final output is. It just may not be pretty. (laughs) But then all art isn’t pretty to me.

To me, what you do is art. You may be doing it for a reason, but it’s still art because I can’t do it. (laughs)

I think that’s part of it too. Sometimes when you can’t do something, it gives it a mystique. Different people react to that mystique positively or negatively. People talk about artists as being artsy fartsy, because they’re just not an artist and they don’t understand that. People think of accountants as being boring, and maybe we are. I don’t know.

Do you feel that creativity is something you’re born with like a talent, or is it something that you can hone and teach?

I think it’s a little bit of both. Some creativity is just innate. A lot of the people that I know in graphic design or artistic fields have drawn since they could first hold a crayon. It’s been a passion. For a lot them, they do it as easily as they breathe. Teaching problem solving which they don’t do enough of in school does teach creativity. It does teach you to use everything you can pull from around you, whether it’s knowledge you have in your head, or information you look up on the internet or at the library, to create a solution.

I do think that it is taught. I think some people may be more resistant to it, because I think you’ve got to have imagination. And some people don’t.

You mentioned that you were thinking about taking an art class.

Yes, I am! Painting.

I want to actually paint on a canvas. I have no idea of what it’s going to look like. (laughs)

No one does.

I don’t have a clue of what’s going to come out of it. I went to a deal a couple of months ago, and did wine glasses. Everybody just raved about my wine glasses. Well, they were just copying and expanding on something that our teacher had shown us. They weren’t exactly a creation from the start of zero kind of thing. So, I’d just like to see what I can do.

I think it’s something I’ve been interested in, for probably growing ten or fifteen years. Now, I’m at a time in my life where I have the opportunity to do it. I spent the last 22 years raising kids, working and doing all the things that are involved in that, and happily! No complaints at all. Talk about creativity, be a parent. (laughs) Now both of my kids are in college, and I’m an empty-nester.

I love to take pictures, so I’m also going to take some photography classes. Right now, what I take pictures of is high school football games. I want to branch out a little, and take something else. I love doing it.

Would you consider yourself an outwardly or inwardly creative person?

It’s kind of a mix. When I was working at Crowe Design Centers, we had big parties down there two or three times a year. At one of them, we had people come in and do handwriting analysis and tarot cards, all of that kind of stuff. As it was getting started, I did a handwriting analysis, and the women looked at my handwriting and said, “You’re very creative, yada, yada, yada.” Well, I was talking to the people I worked with about it, and they’re looking at me like “Yeah?!” (laughs) I had never thought of myself that way.

People have a tendency to think that if you’re creative you have to come up with great ideas all of the time. Creativity means you come up with things and you pull together ideas, but it doesn’t necessarily make it great.

Do I think the people I work with today think I’m creative? Probably not.

If you’d like to find out more about Lynda be sure to follow her on Facebook. Don’t forget to check out the other great Untapped Creativity interviews with Jeni Herberger, Nicole Dobbs, and Elizabeth Lalli-Reese.

Like what you see don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve put imagination in action.

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Beakers with a pencil

Starting next week, I’ll launch the first of many posts about creativity in non-creative industries. It’s a topic that has continued to come up my whole life, and most specifically when people are first introduced to my wife. She’s a scientist, an immunologist to be more specific, and I’m a graphic designer, or creative to be less specific. More often than not people immediately ask what our conversations are like with her being left brain and me being right brain. The assumption is based on the misconception that science involves math, theory and reasoning (non-creativity), and that graphic design involves drawing, painting and brainstorming (creativity). Honestly, we’re a little of both. Designing an experiment follows the same process as designing a logo, we just use different tools and have different outcomes. In other words, we both use facts and strategy to define the problem, and we use imagination to test a solution.

I’ve had a long-standing hypothesis that everyone is creative, and we all use that creativity everyday to solve the problems in our life whether that be at work, home or anywhere in-between. To test my theory, I’ve interviewed people mainly outside the traditionally creative industries to see how they define their creativity. I’ve also interviewed a few people in creative industries as a control. An interesting trend started coming out as I conducted the interviews. People either asked, “Why would you interview me? I’m not creative. I’m just a ________,” or they would ask, “Did you pick me, because you know that I like to paint, draw or play music?”Creativity is being able to imagine while having the courage to act.

One of the main questions that I’ve asked in all of my interviews is “How do you personally define creativity?” The answers are truly amazing and more varied than I ever expected. So, I’d like to start this new series off with how I define creativity.

From day to day, I use my imagination to think of ideas and solutions for clients and myself, but if I didn’t use analytical thinking, processes and a touch of obsessive compulsive behavior then the solutions would never come to life. While I don’t deny my job is creative, I also understand that it isn’t always so. Just as my job and life are sometimes creative, I’m convinced that the same is true for all of us.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll be posting these interviews, and I encourage you to ask myself and the interviewees questions. Check back soon for the first in a series of interviews. My first guest is the wonderfully, brilliant Jeni Herberger.

Like what you see feel free to email me at tad@creativesquall.com and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve put imagination in action.

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