Theory of Creativity

Two creative geniuses reveal how to think out of the box.

We all start at the same spot: a blank space--and with a common goal: to fill that space. But the path we choose from there is completely individual, as individual, in fact, as the mind itself. What occupies that distance between nothing and something is the mysterious science we call creativity.

Funny how the mind works. The visions that come in like a flood, the blocks that temporarily immobilize, the defeats that send us back to the proverbial drawing board, the triumphs of fitting the pieces of the puzzle together, the satisfaction that comes with knowing something is right. The mind lurches, stalls, sprints, strolls, stifles, flows. We so often ask "What do you think?" while neglecting to ask the more interesting question, "How do you think?"

In business environments, creativity has traditionally been considered an anomaly. At worst, it's a sign of unprofessionalism; at best, it's a burst of energy confined to specific blocks of time. Even Webster's is remarkably stale in its definition of creativity: "artistic or intellectual inventiveness," it tersely summarizes. These perceptions fail to satisfy. The beauty of creativity is that it overflows the boundaries we set for it. To anyone who has been called upon to create, the means are infinitely more interesting than the definition and at times even more interesting than the end.

For modern-day creative genuises Joe Moya and Joe Raia, owners and founders of Joe Designer Inc., a product development and graphic communications firm in New York City, creativity is the very foundation of their business and the makeup of their souls. With their team of illustrators and industrial and graphic designers, they've developed products ranging from handmixers and toys to street-hockey blades and video game controllers for corporations such as Betty Crocker, Toy Biz, Kodak, Viacom Retail/Paramount, 4Kidz and IVY Hill/Warner Media Services. "Being creative," says Moya, "is kind of the ultimate thing here."

Being creative. It's an overwhelming call, for sure. But for entrepreneurs, what could be more fitting to their constitution and more, well, good, old-fashioned fun? We've pinned the Joes down and done exploratory surgery on their creative processes, uncovering some fascinating and practical insights into their theory of creativity--so you can learn to unleash yours.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Theory of Creativity.

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