Creatives without borders

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great, creative people.”
– Leo Burnett

At a breakfast meeting of a nonprofit organization dedicated to good deeds, Ed started talking about a funeral. A friend had died and the family didn’t have the money for burial. So Ed and another DJ put together a benefit and in less than 24 hours raised thousands of dollars for the family. Ed’s a DJ who does karaoke for the local bars. With wild hair and wiry beard, he looks more like a deer hunter than an artist. Yet he developed an innovative solution to a problem that would have challenged most of us.

Later that day, NPR broadcast the story of an out-of-work scientist who raised $25,000 to research the effect of drugs on the brain through an avenue not associated with medical research: crowd-funding. Two days before, the ASPCA hosted a live dating show on Twitter called Puppy Love that matched potential owners with pets . . . just in time for Valentine’s Day.

That isn’t what we’d expect from a night owl, a scientist and a pet shelter. And that raises an interesting point: who do we consider creative? The art director who concepts a campaign or the surgeon who reroutes the body’s plumbing? If we don’t paint or act or play an instrument, if society doesn’t sanction our work with a degree or title, do we even consider ourselves creative?

“If you put fences around people, you get sheep,” William McKnight, former chairman of the board of 3M, once said. “Give people the room they need.”

And the credit they deserve.