Psychology of the Mind: Is Creativity Learned or Innate?

The creativity of the mind.


Brain Lobes by Allan Ajlfo - Creativity of the mind

Photo Credit: Brain Lobes by Allan Ajlfo


Ideas. Reactions. Responses.

The human creativity of the mind never ceases to amaze me.


It’s what makes writing and design so exciting for me. My challenge with any creative project is to get inside your mind, to the core, to the heart of you. That understanding is essential to helping you build your brand. As a thought leader, you have a key message and a set of values. But if your message is not clear, my job is to help you figure out what your message is and what’s important to you and help you to build your brand around your purpose. I have to discern what it is you really want to say – from the information you share but sometimes, more importantly, from what you haven’t shared. Sometimes I have to be able to read between your lines. Yet somehow I’m always able to understand what it is you’re looking for and what it is you need – even if you have a hard time explaining. I listen. Carefully. I figure you out.

I get you.


And therein lies the difference between visual communication design as a product and visual communication design as a consulting service. I offer you a consulting service – one that results in greater value and hopefully, an ongoing relationship.


How I Use Creativity of the Mind

In writing, I have to find the words that form an image and resonate so deeply with you that you and your audience are compelled to respond or to act … or at least to vividly remember the moment and come back for a little more. In design, I have even more to work with – words as content but also words as typography plus other visual elements such as colors, textures, photos, and icons – that I can creatively combine to convey the message you want to share.


The process by which all that happens still fascinates me. It never stops being fun. That process begins in a place of mystery and magic – the seat of creativity of the mind.


Those of you who believe you’re not creative may find this to be a foreign concept. And that brings up the age-old debate – whether creativity is innate and instinctive or can be learned and taught.


What’s your opinion on this? Do you think creativity is something you’re born with or can it be achieved through training? Share your thoughts below.


I believe it’s both. I believe we’re all born with creativity of the mind of some kind. I just think we don’t all seek and explore our gifts. And I believe creativity can be taught  as well – but the mind has to be willing and open to accept the teaching.


Environment plays a big role in the development of creativity. You can be completely deprived of exposure to artistic creativity or at least limited to it and that can affect, perhaps even hinder, your ability to grasp it as a capability.


Whether or not you believe you’re creative may simply be a response to something you’ve been told. Sometimes we accept others’ assessments as truth. If you are made to feel you are not creative, you may accept that as fact. Hear often enough that you are not good at something, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you decide you’re not creative, you likely won’t be. Yet I’ve heard many a vocalist say they were told they couldn’t sing or to give up on trying to form a band yet went on to fame and fortune and millions of recordings. People were told they would never amount to anything, yet some of those have rocked our world with their words and innovations.


Why? The difference is they didn’t listen to the negative feedback. They didn’t internalize it. They didn’t allow it to become fact.


Once you absorb negative feedback  as truth, it quickly becomes fundamental – foundational – to your belief system. It gets into the fiber of your being. It becomes hard to believe otherwise. If you think you’re not creative, you’re probably sitting there right now, shaking your head, thinking of all the evidence that proves me wrong, that proves you are just not creative. Usually it’s because you can’t do something that I can do. But I bet you can do something I can’t do. You can’t decide if you’re creative by comparing yourself to someone else.

If you want to embrace creativity, you really have to be willing to open your mind to a fresh self-perspective. Just imagine what you might come up with if you allowed yourself to believe you’re creative.


Though I’ve always been a creative at heart and was exposed to creative thinking at an early age, I selected Psychology as my college major. That may seem an odd choice.


But here’s how it all comes together in my mind:


Visual communication is about conveying creative messages, which are interpreted by people. Psychology is the study of people—how our minds work, how we interpret messages. My background now gives me a unique perspective that I have really come to appreciate. Understanding the psychology of people has made me a better designer for people … Many years of experience in working with people has made me better still.


And every day, you all teach me something new.
Here’s Brad Herzog on catching creative ideas:

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