A Creative Director’s Take on World Creativity and Innovation Day

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World Creativity and Innovation Day, celebrated on April 21st, was established by the United Nations to “raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development.”

To recognize this day, we sat down with our Creative Director, Mark J. Mason, to talk about creativity, innovation, and his perspective on the role they play in both our personal and professional lives.

Q: Mark, please tell us a bit about yourself and your history, both personal and professional.

Creativity has been an integral part of my journey from the very beginning. Both my parents share a profound knack for creativity, which undoubtedly shaped my upbringing.

My father, in particular, epitomized artistic exploration. From his ventures in photography in England to pioneering the mobile discotheque system, he instilled in me a deep appreciation for innovation and expression. So, from early on being surrounded by such creativity, my own passion for the arts blossomed, leading me to delve into music, drawing, and eventually embarking on a career that seamlessly blended technology and design.

Despite the frequent relocations growing up, my pursuit of creativity remained with me. My trajectory led me to the United States for college, though I found little fulfillment in the conventional academic path. Opting instead to chase my musical aspirations, I immersed myself in the world of bands and tours. Yet, the realities of a struggling musician, aka living out of my car, compelled me to go back to school.

Returning to school, I pursued a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Design, aligning my studies with my enduring creative passions. This academic foundation paved the way for a diverse career path, spanning from agency work to founding my own business. Throughout, my focus remained on crafting captivating user experiences across various digital platforms, driven by a relentless pursuit of innovation and creativity.

Q: What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity for me is akin to a mental state of openness and vulnerability, acting as a conduit to our surroundings. It’s about interpreting the world uniquely, generating something fresh and innovative.

In essence, much of creativity involves reimagining existing concepts, giving them our own twist, and crafting something that represents an evolution of what came before it. As the saying goes, “good artists copy, and great artists steal.”

When we examine various creative works, whether in digital media or traditional art forms like paintings or sculptures, we often find that artists draw inspiration from diverse sources. They delve into extensive research, borrowing elements, reinterpreting them, and weaving them into something entirely new.

Q: What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation, to me, is like the dynamic cousin of creativity. It’s about taking what’s already there and giving it a fresh spin, whether it’s crafting a cutting-edge digital tool or reinventing the way we think about everyday objects like chairs or tables to make them more practical or exciting.

Creativity and innovation are like two peas in a pod, working together to bring about meaningful change. When you channel your creativity into innovating solutions for social issues or creating products that captivate the eye while making a positive impact on your community, that’s where the real magic happens.

But hey, they’re not always joined at the hip. Sometimes, like when I’m painting, I’m not necessarily aiming to push boundaries or pioneer new techniques. Yet, even in those moments, the act of creation remains significant, whether it’s for my personal growth or to spark conversations and connections with others.

Q: How do you think innovation, specifically with technology, has changed creativity?

When we look at creativity today, it’s remarkable how much technology has reshaped the landscape. The ability to craft designs straight from your computer, for example, is a relatively recent phenomenon. These tools simply didn’t exist before, so the evolution of technology allowing creatives to explore new avenues has been monumental.

However, there’s a bit of a shadow looming over this progress, especially concerning AI. It’s intriguing how creativity, something we thought would be untouched by artificial intelligence, has become one of its primary targets…It’s a twist we didn’t quite anticipate.

Consider artists like Van Gogh, who utilized new synthetic paints that were relatively new at that time. His approach was akin to wielding new technology. It makes you wonder, if that technology, in this case – synethic paints had not been available, would their innovations have ever come to light? Would the paintings look different? Perhaps not immediately, but eventually.

Technology acts as a sort of brush in the hands of creators, offering endless possibilities for expression. The intersection between technology and creativity is a captivating space, one that continues to inspire new ideas and innovations.

Q: Some people may feel that creativity isn’t related to or essential for business. What is your perspective on how creativity plays a role in business?

Creativity isn’t confined to those with traditional artistic titles like “photographer” or “painter.” It’s a versatile trait that finds its way into various aspects of business.

Think about it – in the business world, creativity isn’t just about making pretty pictures or sculptures, it’s about finding innovative solutions that boost prosperity. Take something as mundane as taxes, for example. Creative strategies in how they’re managed can lead to more prosperous outcomes. Consider the advent of credit cards not too long ago. Someone had to think outside the box to make financial transactions more accessible, and that kind of creative thinking happens all the time in business.

That’s why creativity is essential in business. It’s the engine driving progress and problem-solving. There’s even an interesting experiment in a London business university where they placed a creative design/art school within the business program to see if mixing unconventional backgrounds like ballet and photography with business could spark new ideas and approaches.

It’s funny, though, how some Master’s programs, like the one at Parsons School of Design in New York, seem more interested in candidates without an art background. Yet, creativity is crucial in business, continuously driving us to explore new solutions that hopefully benefit society.

Q: What advice would you give someone who feels that they are struggling to be creative and innovative, whether in their personal or professional lives?

It may sound a bit philosophical, but there’s a prevailing belief that our creativity is deeply intertwined with our experiences from childhood. The more we stay connected to our inner child, the more effortlessly creativity infuses our actions.

As children, we absorb the world around us with an insatiable curiosity, unburdened by rules or societal norms. We’re like sponges, soaking in every detail without inhibition. What may seem absurd to adults holds boundless potential in the eyes of a child!

So, I think if you find yourself grappling with creativity, consider revisiting the carefree spirit of your youth. Recall those moments of joy and wonder. For me, one enduring passion has always been Lego, it’s a simple yet endlessly captivating medium that, for me, taps into our innate desire to create and understand.

If creativity feels elusive for you, reconnecting with activities that spark joy and freedom can often reignite that creative spark. So my advice would be to find something that brings you genuine pleasure and allows you to feel unencumbered. In those moments, creativity often flourishes effortlessly!

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