Creativity = Expertise? Discuss…

Toward the end of an interview with the groundbreaking chef Ferran Adria, TIME reporter Belinda Luscombe says:

You talk a lot about creativity, but you actually seem to be emphasizing expertise. Which is more important?

Adria, the chef who created El Bulli, considered the best restaurant in the world, answered:

If I understand what I’m doing, I can create better. You can be anarchic only if you understand what’s going on. If you don’t, you’re not going to have a long life span within that world. Creativity, if you’re at the top level, is brutal and relentless.

This resonated with me, because I often get the same reaction when I give talks about my interviews with professional working artists: Someone in my audience will always say, “I’m not sure they are really talking about creativity” because what artists really talk about is learning about other ideas and works, mastering new techniques, and the hard slog of generating good work.

5 thoughts on “Creativity = Expertise? Discuss…

  1. I’m sure if you’re to be considered “the best” at anything, there must exist the knowledge and the experience that allows superb happenings that are thus capable of being assessed for being the best. I would argue this is a small group for any one thing; BUT I’d also suggest such assessments are literally open to anyone seeking to work to get the knowledge and experience (and self-assessing to know how this work is going and how it can go better).

    But those who are judged to be the best of the best then use their creativity to put the incredibly great twist on things that are unexpected but add tremendously to the outcome or result. And yes, I believe for sure, creativity means risk and the occasional failure! Then especially those deemed best will be relentless and brutal in their reactions, their only opportunity to humiliate the “best of the best.”

  2. @Keith, good post, thanks for sharing it.

    @jcbjr9455, good comment – knowledge and experience are excellent kick starters for cognitive and creative innovations/thoughts/disruptions…

  3. There might also be the simple fact that a creative idea unrealized remains invisible and is therefore never to be evaluated. Realizing the idea involves step processes and the slog of productivity. For example, when I write a piece of music, all the “blue sky” creativity happens up front as I choose the intervals, harmonies, rhythms, etc. that will make up my piece. Then comes the “craft” of orchestrating the music for whichever instrument or ensemble of instruments I decide to use, which includes the very basic task of knowing how to notate (write out the notes and rests of) the music. Then comes the rather mundane job of creating and printing all the written parts so an orchestra can play the piece. Only then does the piece actually exist in a form sufficient for it to be appreciated (or not!) as a creative work.

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