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The evolution of creativity and its influence on modern design

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The evolution of creativity and its influence on modern design

Beyond Pixels

The creative instinct from the earliest of times

The creative instinct seems almost as integral to the human psyche as the survival instinct is. From the earliest of times, humans have felt the need to communicate their thoughts and ideas to others. This need to communicate has, in turn, led to an ever developing creative expression through the ages. Yet, even if creativity itself has evolved over time, the creative instinct within us has always remained the same.

Early creativity in Cave Paintings

Perhaps the most famous example of creative instinct in early times is how prehistoric humans first expressed themselves through cave art. These drawings and paintings, on cave walls and ceilings, date back to over 30,000 years ago. Representing aspects of the world around us, as much of this art did, is still at the heart of our creative expression today.

Communicating ideas through words

Along with art, writing has been integral in early creativity. Writing is believed to have originated around 7000 BC. This ‘writing’ was initially the simple markings of individual symbols which slowly acquired a structure over time. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, around 3200 BC, we have art and writing coming together. This language used creative symbols, or pictograms, to communicate thoughts, ideas and laws to others.

Dressed to impress

As time progressed, it wasn’t just in early writing and art that people could express themselves. By the time we get to the Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, the way people dressed was more creative, a way of different peoples, as well as individuals, to express their own identities. This example of clothing changing from being purely practical to being more creative, of mixing practicality with art and design, is, again, still significant to this day.

Creativity through to the age of Enlightenment

From the Greeks to the Roman Empire and on to the Medieval Period, writing, language, art, architecture, clothes, jewellery…all were different opportunities for humans to express themselves creatively. In particular, methods of preserving writing made great progress over the years. Inventions like the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-fifteenth century was a particularly important development which helped thoughts, ideas, stories and histories to be stored and spread to an even greater number of people. The introduction of the printing press is seen by many as a hugely important event in the development of modern day creativity. The work of individuals, of writers, musicians and artists would become well known to many people. One such person was Leonardo da Vinci. This is someone who, during the Enlightenment, was not only known as an artist but, amongst other things, as a scientist, inventor and writer. In terms of creativity, the Age of Enlightenment itself was perhaps one of the most important periods in human history.

Design and modern day creativity

Modern day creativity really started to blossom in the late 1800’s. Robert Barclay introduced offset printing for tin in 1875, whilst later, Ira Washington Rubel gave us the first offset printer for paper. These introductions saw a boom in creativity and in 1878 we saw the rise of the modern the first modern day advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Company.

The importance of the internet and technology

As we pass through to the industrial developments of the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries and onwards towards the present day, humans have grasped every new opportunity in technology as a way of expressing themselves creatively. The invention and development of photography, for instance, and in turn television and film, is a prime example of this. One of the most important developments of modern day creativity has to be the introduction of the world wide web in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee. The ability to access a wide range of information and find and inspiration from around the world has really taken creativity to a new level. Software such as the adobe creative packages have also allowed people to really express themselves and we are now seeing a new breed of digital artists.

In something like the Macintosh computer or the Apple iPhone, we see how creative design and practically are both equally important. It’s also important to note that as much as design nowadays is seen to be at the cutting edge of creativity, it has always been at the heart of creative expression throughout the ages. You could say the curve of an iPhone today has its origins in the carving of a flint stone in much earlier times. It’s a sign that even though creativity has evolved over time, the essential creative instinct within us has always been there from the beginning.

Social creativity

Times are changing, and at this present time social networks are at the forefront of creativity, not only the mainstream everyday networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube but the more creative networks such as Dribbble and Behance. This change is just a development and evolution from word of mouth and traditional advertising, today however, the results are almost instant. A creative message can be produced and shared around the globe in a matter of seconds with feedback and replies coming almost instantly.

With improvements in the technology we use on a daily basis, the output of creativity is bound to increase and with a fierce social community ready to judge, we must be sure to bring our A game.