The difference between “a creative” and “a creator.” (Episode 169)

A person (person A) who has a great idea and then has someone else execute that idea is a creative. Think of a person writing a prompt for an AI Image generator like Midjourney.

But a person (Person B) who has an idea and then has the skills, patience, persistence and competence to turn her own idea into the actual end product is creative on such a different scale. Think of a person who comes up with an idea for an image and then sits down at Photoshop and makes it happen. That person is “a creator.”

Person A (a creative) comes up with a creative dish. Person B (a creator) comes up with a creative dish – and cooks it.

Person A (a creative) comes up with an idea for a movie. Person B (a creator) comes up with an idea for a movie – and directs it.

The idea behind differentiating between a mere “creative” vs a “creator” is to highlight the huge difference between “just having an idea” vs “having an idea that you can execute yourself”.

Of course, not even creators create EVERYTHING in any creative project (a chef did (usually) not breed her own cow, the director still has actors and cameramen etc) but the difference between being just “a creative” and of being “a creator” is the depths of creative abilities.

A person being able to design his house is creative, but being able to design – and build – your own house, is what creators do.

There are much more “creatives” than there are “creators”.

I was inspired to distinguish between creatives and creators after interviewing Benadatte Kaggwa, a Kenyan handmade fashion accessories designer who went from merely designing jewelry and having other people craft them, to both designing and creating the jewelry herself.

When she made herself in charge of the full process, something in her creative process changed. “Now I am creating reality”, she told me. “Now (when I do everything) it’s a much more personal result that comes out of it. It’s more from myself.”

A creator is not necessarily “better” than a creative. You could argue that it’s better if each creative does what they are best at and hands over the rest of the work to other creators. But at the same time, we need to have a way of differencing the creative process of “creatives” from “creators”. The very personal result that comes from the work of a creator is very special.

Notch, the one-man-show that created and launched “Minecraft” more or less all by himself, comes to mind as a perfect example of a creator.

Why don’t you try to be a creator in your next creative process, even if you normally would have outsourced some, or a lot, of the work to have it done. Just for the experience of feeling the satisfaction that comes from being totally in charge of the full creative process.

Would love to hear your thoughts – comment on LinkedIn.

Fredrik Haren – The Creativity Explorer


PS: As you are aware, I have also rolled out ‘Ideas Island charity project’, where I offer creative minds to stay on their own private island in Sweden, for a week – FREE of charge.

Ideas Island is more or less full this summer but we have a couple of last minute cancellations. If you can come on SHORT NOTICE (and are willing to pledge an amount to charity as a thank you for staying for free on the island) then please email and we will put you on the short term wait list. (Include a short text about who you are and what creative project you will work on, on the island).




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