Being creative is a gift that needs nurturing. It should never be taken for granted. If you’re lucky enough to have the gift, you should be testing how far you can push it.
There’s a lot of airtime given to this subject – and some of the talks are surprisingly dull and uncreative. But the following handpicked top 10 features only genuinely inspirational videos that will fire you up, boost your confidence and make you realise how lucky you are. They should help you pimp your processes, fight apathy and inspire you to do even more with what you have.
1. Everything is a Remix
The term remix comes from music but applies unreservedly to all creativity, whether you’re fuelling your art by stealing bass lines, scenes from movies or parts of 17th-century poems.
This 50-minute film will help you feel good about playing your part in a great artistic tradition: collecting material, combining it with other ‘stolen goods’ and transforming it into something that’s you.
Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based writer and filmmaker, who mainly makes comic shorts. He’s earned more than 4 million YouTube hits at the time of writing.
See also: Real-life remix hitmaker Mark Ronson doing a Ted talk: How Sampling Transformed Music
2. The Gap
“She got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps”, said that old philosopher Rocky Balboa.
But what if you’re suffering a creative gap, where your exquisite taste is outstripping your current abilities…how do you move forward from that?
Photographer/filmmaker Daniel Sax made this gorgeous two-minute film featuring the sage words of American radio personality Ira Glass. He made it to remind himself of what to do in moments of doubt - and it applies to anyone having a ‘wobble’ of non-confidence in their creative career. Inspiring stuff that’ll help you crack on when your creative energy is low.
3. Steal Like an Artist
Maybe you’ve read this book, but if you haven’t, this Ted Talk is the perfect introduction to the comforting and motivating words of Austin Kleon.
Austin Kleon is an artist and writer living in Austin, Texas. He’s published three books: two self-help manuals for creatives and one collection of poems invented by using a marker pen to cross unnecessary words out of the New York Times.
If you’re starting from scratch, then there’s loads of encouragement in this 10 point manifesto of all the things he wished he knew when he began. If you have read the book – and didn’t pin Austin’s teachings up above your desk/ workbench – then take 16 minutes out for a refresher course. Two thumbs up.
4. How to Build Creative Confidence
Don’t wait a moment when you’re not feeling confident to watch this one.
This video will empower you to deal with those moments when you or someone else is not overly impressed with your work. It’ll help you get over a fear of being judged for saying or doing the wrong thing and also suggest processes to push you on to do amazingly innovative things, via a process called ‘guided mastery’…
David Kelley is a Professor at Stanford, and even more impressively, the founder and chairman of IDEO, an international design and consulting firm HQ’d in Silicon Valley. IDEO uses design thinking methodology to design products, services, environments, and digital experiences. In short, Mr Kelley is a black belt fourth Dan in creative process knowledge. Listen up!
5. Six Characteristics of Truly Creative People
Sometimes it’s good to check out how big corporates do creativity, and possibly the easiest way to get a handle on that mindset is to watch this 19-minute video by another Stanford professor and author of 17 books, Tina Seelig.
From this video, it seems the focus of her work is to get people who aren’t ever so creative to work with an innovation framework - with a little bit of mental conditioning to boost confidence and get them to think like creatives. People like you, who are continually framing and reframing problems and connecting and combining in exciting and surprising ways.
For the naturally creative, it makes an ace refresher course to revisit when you need to do some innovative problem-solving. It will remind you that you’re already a truly creative - and help you parameterise your ideas and ways of thinking so that you can deliver genius-on-demand. Not bad for 20 mins of your time.
6. How Empathy Fuels the Creative Process
Empathy sells. And like David Ogilvy said: "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative”. Ergo, no empathy, no creativity = no sales. That wouldn’t do now, would it?
So if you want an EQ boost, look no further than this 18 minute Ted talk from Seung Chan Lim - aka Slim - who has an exciting take on empathy that will make you reconsider how you cater to different audiences. He starts with something he learned by cutting wood in a workshop then uses it to frame insights from his research.
Slim is an award-winning designer and researcher/engineer, and it shows in this in-depth thinking talk. He’s also a master storyteller, bringing his research to life effortlessly.
Compelling. He’ll help you more deeply understand the genuine human emotions behind the decisions people make: a delight and a privilege to watch.
7. Creativity Under Pressure
Can you be brilliant, prolific and healthy all at the same time? That’s a question Todd Henry is fascinated with. He says the usual process when a deadline looms is to panic – then explore the first or most comfortable option – then execute in a hurry. Sound familiar?
Well, there is another attitude to take. As Todd says: “mount a perpetual assault on the beachhead of apathy”.
He talks us through how to do just that, while under the stress of a deadline - and come up with winning results that push the envelope – well worth a look.
Todd Henry is the author of the Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moments Notice.
8. What creativity is trying to tell you
“No-one really gets taught creativity. It is individual as it is universal”.
Here Jonathan Tilley shares the pivotal experiences that define creativity for him, talking through his experiences working in the theatre.
He talks of creativity being a force that carries us like the wind, but it has its own needs too, such a sacred space to breathe in. And that doesn’t mean a space for you to work in (although that is vital) - he suggests that you need to have the confidence to share your creations with the world, allowing them to have their own sacred space where they can go on to inspire others.
Great presenter, very refreshing. His ideas will help you embrace the fear of failure and make it work for you, by giving you the green light to do your best stuff unencumbered by crippling doubt. Watch this one when you have some negativity to shake off.
Jonathan Tilley is a brand consultant, web designer, voiceover actor and theatrical performer.
9. Creativity and Play
Play isn’t anarchic — play has rules. Learning to play again will help you be more creative by making you fearless like a child.
Tim Brown explains the fundamental theories behind why companies like Google and Pixar invest so much time effort and money into making playful atmospheres for their people to work in. He tells us how you too can put together a situation that’s all about possibilities, not pigeonholes. Where play is serious and productive - but still very much in the spirit of playtime.
Tim Brown is CEO and president of IDEO. He speaks about design thinking and innovation all around the world and is so revered that he participates in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
10. Cosmic Creativity: How Art Evolves Consciousness
Alex Gray is an artist best known for paintings that showcase the subtleties of human anatomy in the context of cosmic, biological and technological evolution. You might recognise some of his work from album sleeves for the Beastie Boys and Nirvana’s last album, In Utero.
His excellent Ted Talk is pretty deep, perhaps the most high-brow on this list but probably the most inspiring for it. He talks about how a worldly consciousness can become something much more significant if you create it with your very soul.
If you’re looking to get the big picture into your work, look no further than this fantastic artist and an awe-inspiring deep thinker.
Enjoy. Watch a couple of videos, and I defy you not to feel inspired into making something awesome. Remember, creativity is both a gift and a force that has its own needs. One of them is to be celebrated. Be thankful!