In the seventh grade I designed my first house. In my 13 year old mind it was perfect, but the reality is quite the opposite. The house had lines to represent walls, a living room with couch cushions for a floor, and each bedroom was accessed by a rock wall inversion to keep out parents.
Despite the flaws in the plan, I felt the spark - that was it. I could tell that solving this puzzle was the type work (and play) I wanted to do. And, a cushioned floor is still not a half-bad idea.
The thing about architects and design is that we're taught that the first solution is rarely ever the final answer. Each new version of a design is different and more intriguing, and more able to provide solutions within constraints. It gives me a feeling of perfect satisfaction to study and conceive the ideal combination of desired forms. The best designs allow you to animate the beauty that you see in the world and bring about comfort, intrigue, balance, and grace.
College was a time for examining forms, studying contextual and historical precedence, and sewing paper together (among other things). College was a time for pushing the envelope, experimenting with method and elemental collaborations between graphite, plaster, wood, metal, and any other material you can think of - they all beg inquiry when you're expected to use them as tools.
Since graduating and pursuing a career in designing the built environment, my material palette has been limited to elements that will be used in construction. My workload has been focused on the realities of answerable problems that need effective and successful solutions.
It was about a year into this transition that I first truly believed that creativity is a fundamental aspect of all human experience. Truly that creating is a part of being IN your experience and making it count.
I was just finishing up my 4th month of my first job and had been assigned to "production" work. As a new graduate with stars in my eyes, the term "production intern" was NOT the position this woman with an accredited degree and Dean's list honors expected to fulfill.
The thing about the real world that makes the projects much more difficult is the length of time you spend on them and the absolute change in the nature of your end product. It's not unreasonable to spend 8 months to 3 years on the design of a singular building or site of buildings. Compared to a semester's timeline, a few months of production on a design that is mostly already worked out is a very long marathon, not a sprint to a deadline and then a new topic to whisk you merrily on your way to new and exciting uncharted waters!
I was wondering why I felt unfulfilled, unmotivated, and being told to appropriately note details is not really an outlet for creativity. I had to get creative to find creative work! Who would have guessed that a creative career is not always design and pinups and discussion and allowable differing opinions.
I found a few things during this time that were true about me.
Firstly - my first design was not done in school or at work. I had every opportunity to make my life as creative as possible in all aspects. Art, design, food, writing, reading, photography, exercise, dancing, color, light, music, and creationist acts are all creative.
Secondly - non-creationist acts such as organizing, cleaning, caring for your family, problem solving, and your own personal pattern of living are inherently creative acts though the face of them may not seem original. These acts cannot be replicated by anyone at any other time in any other place. It is you who creates them and moves the world forward as it turns.
Thirdly - creativity does not also mean that an end product is expected. Thinking about creativity as a force that requires a specific action and tangible reaction is a limiting factor. Breaking free of the traditional thoughts about who a creative person "is" and what they "do" and what you then see as the result (thanks, Facebook) is what enabled me to see that a creative life can be what I want to make it - nothing more and nothing less.
Fourthly - I can be creative over the span of years, months, a day, an hour, or a moment. Doing a creative act in a moment versus a week or months does not mean that a life is not a creative one. The smallest proportion with which you spend your time does not negate the larger of the proportions.
Building a creative life, piece by piece, is a joy to explore. I've also found that searching for that expression through multiple outlets has given me a robust background to draw from. Unlimited enjoyment of the arts and of nature and of our experiences is always an exercise in seeking and enjoying the creativity of myself and others. I find in work now that my greatest joy is taking all of the inspirations that my subconscious mind enjoys and molding them into a reality of function and composition.