Artistic vs. Creative

“In the beginning, God created…”

That is the opening phrase from one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, Genesis 1:1. I find it interesting that the first verb used in the Bible is create or make (barah in Hebrew). It is not love, live, or laugh. It is create. There is something primordial that surrounds the idea of creating. A different part of us wakes when we start to build something from scratch. When we begin to create we begin on a journey that has…well, been going on since the beginning of time.

That is why I love my job. I get to create graphics for a church all day, every day. I could not ask for a better environment to work in or with better people to work with. Therefore, when people ask me what I do I love to talk about it. One thing that I do find interesting is the response that I get from people once I answer their question. It is usually along the lines of “Oh, I could never do that. I’m not an artistic person.”

When did the idea of art into the conversation?

I quickly try to explain that while my title might say “Graphic Artist” or “Graphic Designer,” my job is more of a puzzle solving effort than actually creating artwork. People do not buy it, and they automatically assume that I am some sort of artistic genius who can draw a realistic charcoal sketch, illustrate a graphic novel, compose a orchestral symphony, and write a bestselling novel—none of which I can do.

My next statement always gets me some sideways, confused looks: there is a difference between artistic and creative; I am creative, not artistic.

Artistic is an adjective that describes someone who has the innate abilities to create something that is aesthetically pleasing to an audience. These people make things that others buy and hang in their homes, display in galleries, or listen to on their iPod. Their gifts have been focused in one direction, refining their craft until it is a piece of…art.

Creative is an adjective that applies to someone who creates something…anything. So, the idea of “artist” fits in under the umbrella of creative (because they are creating art to experience). But, mechanical engineering fits under the umbrella of creative (because they are creating bridges that stand). Teaching fits under the umbrella of creative (because they are creating content to communicate). Account balancing fits under the umbrella of creative (because they are creating systems that work).

Creativity has become synonymous with the idea painting, sculpting, designing, drawing, illustrating, writing, and crafting, when it is nothing more than the natural expression of our desire to create. Culture has fed people the lie that creativity is reserved for a select few who have a special genius that oozes out of every pore of their body.

You know these kinds of people. They are eccentric. They dress crazy. They think so far outside of a box you did not know even existed. Their fingers, mouths, or brains create things that seem to come to life off a blank computer screen or 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.

We all hate these people. They make us sick. Everything comes so naturally to them. While barely lifting a finger beauty seems to flow from their person. They are good at everything they do.

But, what if I were to tell you that what they have, you have too? What if their abilities were something you could tap into as well?

You can. That same creativity that turns your eyes green with jealousy is sitting deep within your soul waiting for you to tap into its potential.

Here is where the resistance starts to build. The alarm buzzing in your head is screaming things like, “But I can’t draw. I can’t use a paintbrush. I do not know music theory. I cannot write anything other than a five-paragraph, academic essay. I do not know how to use Photoshop. I always cut people’s heads off in the pictures I take. I would set the whole art building on fire if I ever tried to use a kiln.”

While those statements might be accurate—like the ones I mentioned earlier about myself—the very presence of that resistance in your mind proves the point that your definition of “creativity” has been subconsciously substituted with “artistic” without you even thinking about it.

You have bought into the lie that culture has fed you that there is a creative elite. At the top sit the Grand Masters of Art—the Michelangelos, Leonardo da Vincis, Pablo Picassos, Beatles, Elvis’, Shakespeares, and Melvilles—peering over their throne of artistic achievement assessing the struggle below them that is taking place as new artists jockey and vie for the next seat that becomes available. Meanwhile, you are sitting at the bottom of the ladder wallowing in self-pity because you cannot make a paper airplane that can fly more than three feet.


That is a poisonous way to think. The roots of the lie grow deeper into your soul feeding off that reservoir of creativity until it convinces you that you no longer possess that creativity. When that day comes, a part of you will die that can never retrieved. The creative process that began at the beginning of time is halted, and that is a sad day.

Remember, on day one God created. He created the heavens and the earth; the land and the waters; the animals and the plants; and man. But, there is something different about man.

If you look at the first two chapters of Genesis, you see a pattern, “And God said…” (e.g. let there be light, an expanse in the midst of the waters, etc.). God spoke all of creation into existence except for one piece: man.

Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image…So God created man in his own image.” God did not speak man into being, He made him. In Genesis 2 the Bible states that God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into him. God created man.

Then God places man in the garden and gives him the command to rule over all the animals and plants in the garden. God has given man free reign over His creation so that he can co-create with God (i.e. develop a system to name the animals).

My argument is this: creativity has been placed in our souls by The Creator; the ability to create is at the core of what it means to be a human being. The goal is not to create things that will make you successful, famous, or rich—it might be a byproduct, but never the priority. The goal is to create as an expression out of the overflow of your heart.

Do you feel something stirring inside of you? Do you hear a tiny voice in the depths of your heart trying to scream through the gag that has been placed over its mouth?

That is your creative potential. Its desire is to create whatever your heart desires. It wants to be released. It wants to be free. It wants to live. It wants to create.

Release it. Free it. Allow it to live. Because, if that part of you dies, the essence of who you are dies with it.

Never forget, you were created to be creative. God started the process, placed a desire deep in your soul, and gave the world as your canvas. Your job is to find the way that best expresses that creativity… no matter what form it might take.

Be creative.


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