“Those designer guys are creative, we’re not” That’s one of the things I hear a lot at work. It’s a sentence that gets developers of the hook so they can continue write middleware and algorithms and mathematic stuff.
I know a graphical design for an application can be hard to produce. I’ve experienced it myself quite a few times now trying to get more experience designing frontends. But that doesn’t mean you’re not creative.
We are creative by nature
Every human being is creative by nature. Problems we solve are solved by looking at them in a creative way. You ask your self, what other method might work to solve this issue? Or what if I flip that part around and try it that way?
Creativity is all about thinking up possibilities that may or may not work to solve a specific problem. The creative part of your mind is also used for making art and music.
Another thing you need to keep in mind here is that creativity is often unexplainable. Sometimes you make a mental leap to get to something new. There’s no way you know how you got there, but the final solution works. Yes, this even goes for scientists with their controlled methods of getting from problem to solution. You have to make that mental leap from time to time, to discover something new.
Picking your medium
The reason most developers don’t recognize themselves as creative is because of a wrong choice in medium. Design, art, pixels and pictures are associated with creative things as this is where the creativity of people is most visible. So when you ask developers to name something creative, they go for graphical design, art and photography.
Saying that art is creative and coding isn’t automatically makes those developers feel not very creative. The real problem however is that those developers looking at a medium that isn’t suited for them are making the wrong choice.
Developers are incredibly creative. Just take a look at your Windows taskbar and tell me that isn’t creative thinking. (It doesn’t matter which version of Windows, every version has one that was made by a developer). Also, check out the algorithm you wrote, that there is creative thinking.
To get the creative feeling you need to have a medium that enables you to express yourself. For developers this is code and for designers it’s pencils, felttips, designer tools, etc.
Still not feeling creative?
All this can still leave you with the feeling that something doesn’t fit. I’ve had that feeling and it’s something not to ignore. There may be two things going on.
Sometimes you do like building graphical things in software, but you don’t have the skills yet to do it in the way you have envisioned it. Don’t worry, get someone to help you. Creativity isn’t something you do alone. Getting someone else to look at your stuff gives new ideas and sparks creativity. Stick to your medium and try to extend it. Ultimately, that design needs to be build using code, so you are going to get it working.
The other thing that might be happening is that you’re using the wrong medium all together. This is the moment where you need to start looking for a medium that does work. There is nothing wrong abandoning what you’re doing now and going some place else, even if you know you’re job really well and are considered a master in your craft. Creativity is also something emotional. You need to feel good about it.