The Loss of Innocence and Creativity

I have been a graphic designer and artist for over 30 years. I am a “seasoned and experienced professional.” There are days when I feel like I can design with my eyes closed. And there are other days where it looks like that is exactly what I have done. There is something to say for experience which is gained over time. But creativity I fear, if we are not careful, is lost over time.

cartoon of man with x-ray showing a fire in the bellyWe look to our youth for fresh and exciting new ideas. We hire younger talent to bring a certain energy and innovation that has been lost by us “seasoned and experienced professionals.” Children are born with an innate sense of wonder and experimentation. Creativity is written into our DNA. But over time our creativity fades like color from an often worn shirt.

Fellow bloger Andrew Zahn posted a link to a video the other week that touched me for many reasons. The video is a short documentary by Nirvan Mullick about Caine, a nine-year-old boy, who has built a game arcade out of cardboard and packing tape.  He has figured out ways to feed tickets out of the machines to winning customers just like at a real arcade. He has a phalanx of games lined up across the entire front room of his father’s used auto parts store.  He even made a claw machine where you can try your luck at hooking a prize.

Day after day all sumer long he enlarged his arcade and sat and waited patiently for customers to try their luck at his arcade. One dollar for a regular pass, which gives you 4 plays and two dollars for a fun pass which is good for a month and gives you 500 plays.  Who wouldn’t go for a fun pass? No one except Nirvan Mullick, Caine’s first and only customer.

Despite the lack of traffic, Caine’s enthusiasm and belief in his arcade was unshaken. Day after day he would man, maintain and expand upon his dream, trying to entice passers by into his arcade like a barker outside of a midway sideshow tent. What happens to that kind of drive as we grow older? Why would you and I have packed it in after a day or two without customers?  Where has that spirit of rock-solid faith and conviction wandered off to? Why do we rely on the same old solutions day after day when there are new ones just beyond our finger tips?  Why do we believe those who tell us something can’t be done? When did that fire in the belly go out?

So here is what I resolve to do to fan the inner flames of creativity:

 Avoid naysayers

Face the difficult head on

Hold on to convictions

Nurture a sense of wonder

Harness energy



 I’ve said it before and I will keep on saying it. I can imagine a world without art but I don’t think I want to live there.  What are you going to do to ramp up your creativity quotient?

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Please take a moment to fill out my poll on the right if you haven’t already done so.
illustration by Andy Black


6 comments on “The Loss of Innocence and Creativity

  1. I think putting yourself into new and different situations can inspire creativity regardless of age. That willingness to step out of a comfort zone and let your mind open can be beneficial. For me that means traveling or just leaving my house for a bit. I’m planning on traveling to a country I’ve never been to for my birthday this summer. I have a feeling it’ll be great for my creativity.

    • No doubt about it, stepping “out of a comfort zone” can be energizing but frightening at the same time. We just have to hope that we can overcome the fear enough to take advantage of the benefits. Glad to see you are still hanging out here. Thanks for your support! (and the re-blog!)

  2. Reblogged this on Honesty and commented:
    Something to think about today. Creativity can be lost. Maybe we need to do things to exercise it more.

  3. Thanks to TheOthers1 for the reblog. And I agree with her, you don’t use it you lose it. I admire your resolutions but beware of holding too tightly to convictions.

    As far as the fire in the belly, ambition, general chutzpah and all the rest? I think we settle into a routine that works and pays off (emotionally and fiscally) and are conditioned to take fewer chances. At least in the United States, our whole culture is designed to make us paranoid about the future; we have to insure everything, provide for everyone, make sure ducks are in rows.

    And then somewhere around 40 you realize that’s all well and good but you’re dying inside. So you start a second career, start traveling, start a new relationship, try to get the fire back in the belly. And you get ridiculed for “having a mid-life crisis”.

    I’m with Marcus Aurelius. Nothing you ever do is going to matter much or be memorable beyond a couple of generations. While your atoms are in their present configuration, bust a move, as the kids say.

    • You have a point. Holding onto convictions can be be stifling if, as you observe, we hold onto them too tightly. Maybe a better choice of words would be “stand my ground,” or “don’t back down.”

      And what? You (and Marcus Aurelius) mean we’ll all be forgotten 50 or 60 years after we’re gone? Bummer. I guess you’re right, sieze the day!

  4. Good for you!
    Personally I think we give in to the pressures and social expectations too easily and lose the simple ability to dream big and be ourselves that we have as children because even if our families/homes are open and accepting, the larger world (school, college, work, etc) all are filled with people and situations designed almost, to kill that fire, that creative zeal and joy in life.
    I actually decided one day that I am an adult and have responsibilities – sure – but my life has to be about something and I have to share what I feel most strongly about and such. So I will do what I have to as best as I can, but will never give up on my dream, even if it never hits the big time or anything. I leave you with this simple idea that changed a lot in my mind-set when I first was exposed to it:

    “Yesterday is dead, tomorrow’s not here yet. All I have is today and I’m going to be happy in it.”
    – Groucho Marx

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