Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Crux of Creativity

Philosophers and neuroscientists have debated the essence of aesthetics from many angles—its evolutionary origins and psychological framework being two of the more popular. Yet there is one common tie among all productions that are pleasing to the senses that is most crucial to understanding why we enjoy them. Every exceptional creative work, be it fine art or part of pop culture, relies on a fundamental concept for its success: layers.

Layers are the fabric (literally, sometimes) of creativity. A painter uses layers of paint to build rich color and texture on a canvas. A graphic designer uses layers to add dimension and dynamism to a flat surface. A writer uses layers to construct a rich and compelling passage of text. A sound mixer uses layers to develop a melody that is strikingly new and catchy at the same time. A film editor uses layers to combine sounds and visuals in an emotionally-arresting way. And fashion designers use layers to create eyecatching ensembles, one color and texture at a time.

Complexity gives the mind something it can’t dismiss with a glance. When a work of art, an outfit, or a beat is too simple, it is easily ignored. But start adding levels of meaning or physical depth, and the piece becomes something to be studied. The best creative pieces can be enjoyed on multiple levels—appreciated by a novice and pored over by an expert. In short, layers make life interesting.

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