Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

What Is a Creative?

This week, I’m attending an arts conference and creative think-tank. A lot of the attendees are calling themselves “creatives.”

Now if you don’t work in marketing or advertising, you may not have realized that creative can be a noun.

So, what is a creative?

A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others.

A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both are quite apt.

A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.

And what, exactly, does a creative do?

Good question; sometimes they don’t even know.

A creative creates art. Not make a buck, but to make a difference. She writes to write, not to be noticed or to sell books. She sings to sing, for the pure joy of making music. And she paints to paint. (And so on…)

A creative colors outside the lines. On purpose. In so doing, she shows the world a whole new picture they never would have otherwise seen.

A creative breaks the rules. And as a result, he sets a new standard to follow.

Why we need creatives

The truth is that we need more creatives in positions of influence — to color the world with beauty and life.

Creatives craft poetry in a world that is otherwise content with prose. They bring art to areas where there is only architecture.

Creatives help us see life in a new light — to perceive a new dimension, a deeper way of encountering what we know. And we need more of those kinds of leaders.

Don’t you agree?

Are you a creative? What’s your definition for a creative? If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag to #acreativeis.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • @lindseygilstrap

    #acreativeis one who contributes to shaping the look and feel of the world as we know it. Creatives create culture, not simply art.

    • Jeff Goins

      Love it!

  • Wish I’d known about it ahead of time 🙂 Get insipred to inspire us, friend 🙂

    • Jeff Goins

      The conference or the idea? Never too late…

  • A creative is: “often misunderstood”

    • Jeff Goins


  • Now THIS was fun!!!

    • awesome! i’m glad you liked it, Betsy.

  • Jeff! Just read this post. This is incredible! I absolutely LOVE your definition/description of a creative. I have been searching for a good one, and now I have it! Thanks for this post. Simply great.

  • Lia London

    “A creative colors outside the lines. On purpose. In so doing, she shows the world a whole new picture they never would have otherwise seen.”  Love it.  That’s what we need more of.  Art that opens our minds to possibilities.

  • Brooke

    Hi Jeff
    I’ve just found your blog and clicked the link to this post from the one about why the world needs more creatives. It’s perfect for me because I’ve been referring to myself as a creative for the last 6 months or so because I didn’t know how else to describe myself and concisely explain that I have one business which is the result of my 19 different hobbies/interests/life force…the only way I can explain it is that I NEED to create ‘things’. I made my business, Be Still My Heart a place where it all comes together, but also a place where it’s okay to change my mind each day about what I want to do and what I feel like working on.
    Thanks for this great post, sometimes our breed need to be reminded that what we do is relevant, beautiful, has a purpose, and you’ve done just that!
    I look forward to following you from here on out.

  • vosges paris

    A creative inspire 

  • I like your definition. Very cool.

  • Loved this! I don’t feel quite so alone anymore now that I know there are others like me. I don’t think I could define it any better than you!

  • Lovemeimanartist

    Is this serious? If this isn’t an ingenious pastiche of the absolute idiocy that pervades media industries at the moment I’m going to become really depressed.

    • Alice

      Yeah, I have to agree. It just sounds so pretentious to call yourself “a creative”. Sorry. That’s why the glittering douches get the “creative” jobs while the humbly talented are destined for minimum wage, dead-end jobs. It really is rather depressing.

      • blewvelvet

        IT is so fuckin pretentious!!!

  • Sean Spruiells

    Thank you for this post. My many titles include drawing, photographer, music composer, writer, and an educator. I have recently began combining all of my art forms into one project. I did not want to have a different site for each thing I do. I find that I want to create projects to encourage a different way of looking at different topics. I feel this title describes me. To the others that have commented, I felt alone too. I felt as if there was no one like me. I am glad to find other creatives.

  • Bibi

    I totally agree.

    If it wasn’t for creative thinkers there would be no innovation. There would be no art, no music, poetry or even love. For all these things can only be seen, created and interpreted by a heart that knows no boundaries.

    All buildings would be boxes. There would be no curves or wonderful shapes. There would be no movies, cartoons, nor games or amazing fashion.

    Life would be black white and grey without creatives.

    For only creatives can see that colours are the beginning of infinite potential.

    • blewvelvet

      Well if it wasn’t for housewives and girlfriends that creatively come up of efficient ways of doing the ‘artists’ laundry, making dinner and paying for their bills…you wouldn’t have the creative thinkers time to think up some of their bullshit ideas that never come to fruition. Take this one from me. I”m married to one. REALLY GOOD and GREAT ARTISTS do ONE thing well. The mediocre ones do some things ok. But really..if they didn’t have the backing of funding and time and resources…they would’ve never gotten those ideas done!!!!

      So using the term “CREATIVE” is bullshit. They are either good at one thing or not. Hell, I think of various ways to make my life more efficent or to save money…doesn’t make me fuckin CREATIVE..its makes me a person with an economic agenda!

  • blewvelvet

    So..its really a bullshit term. Because being a “creative” does not explain anything. Nature creats shit all the time. How about…I’m a creative “PERSON” if you can’ be better defining…or Creative PAINTER, Crative POP ARTIST. No one can do EVERYTHING so…. AND let’s be real… most artists are NOT Creative..they just hash other people ideas together….so this is why this is a total BULLSHIT TERM. Be clear on what you are communicating instead of creating some bullshit idea that doesn’t convey anything to another person or doesn’t explain or “CREATE” a visual for them. If you can’t communicate it..you will be left in the dark.

  • el

    Im not sure

  • harley springs

    Love it!!!

  • OtherWise

    I am in agreement with your statements.

  • Rosa

    I know a true creative, recognized by in the commercial world and now by scholars. I have found that whilst I love his work, and have talent myself enough to understand (also wish I could do what this artist does), I am positive that the hardest thing in the world is to trust in the utter unconventionality of the work sometimes…it takes a bit of time to understand what is miraculously revealing itself, it is so different but so understandable at the same time. The impulse is to change or correct the ‘mistakes’. It is almost the hardest thing in the world not to do.

  • Diana Navarro

    I am sharing this on my event page. An event titled “Gathering for Creatives” and I list examples of who may be included. I am very excited about this. Creatives in NYC are invited.

  • dan pre

    i believe creative is God’s work which is in us all wee need to is think about to take an action https://www.buyadsenseac.com/

  • Preshus

    I didn’t know I was a creative. What else is there, what if you’re both?

  • Chad Godoy

    Wholeheartedly agree! Thank you so much for appreciating us creatives.

  • anne

    sleepless nights hunger games could makes some how creative humans