IF you’ve ever wished you were a bit more creative – like an artist, musician or stand-up comedian – then the StarLIVE session we hosted last week at our office would have been for you.

Creative differences: Graphic recorder Bernie Quah and comedian Kavin Jay spoke about 'The Creative Spark' at last Saturday's StarLIVE session in Menara Star.

Creative differences: Graphic recorder Bernie Quah and comedian Kavin Jay spoke about ‘The Creative Spark’ at last Saturday’s StarLIVE session in Menara Star.

StarLIVE is a series of monthly talks organised by The Star here at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya; and on Saturday, R.AGE was asked to host one on “The Creative Spark”. It was all about improving your creativity, and applying it to your everyday lives and careers.

The guest speakers were graphic recorder Bernie Quah and stand-up comedian Kavin Jay – both of whom we’ve featured here in R.AGE for how they turned their creative passions into careers; and the session was moderated by our very own R.AGE editor Ian Yee.

R.AGE editor Ian Yee (left) moderating the Q&A session with Quah and Kavin.

R.AGE editor Ian Yee (left) moderating the Q&A session with Quah and Kavin.

Kavin gave a hilarious talk on how he went from an engineering student to a comedian, while Quah gave everyone a glimpse of her unique graphic recording talents (that’s where you record talks, seminars and speeches through illustrations, all in real time).

For all of you now going, “dang, I missed it!”, fret not. We got you covered. Here’s the gist of what Quah and Kavin shared about in terms of getting your creative juices flowing.

1. You can’t force it
This was mainly aimed at parents and teachers. In Malaysia, said Quah, a lot of parents’ idea of improving their children’s creativity involves sending them to even more classes and tuition outside of school.

They think: I want my child to be more creative, so I’ll send them to an art class, or a ballet class, or a piano class… Heck I’ll send them to all three.

According to Quah and Kavin, that never works. If it’s not something the kids are interested in, their creativity will never improve. All you can do is encourage them to find that something creative that they’ll enjoy doing, and hope it works out for them.

2. Break the rules – sometimes
If you want to learn to think out of the box, you’re gonna have to break some rules sometimes – and that’s how Kavin likes to work.

“I’m the kind of guy that if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll just have to do it,” he said. “I will do everything I can to prove you wrong.”

For Quah, it was a case of learning to take criticism because of the rules.

“In primary school, I was often told that the way I was drawing was ‘wrong’, because I didn’t follow the typical way they wanted students to draw, where everything would end up looking more or less the same. But there should be no right or wrong way! There’s no creativity in that.”

3. Keep working on it!
Quah says creativity is like a muscle – you gotta keep exercising it, or it’ll just turn into flab.

How you exercise it, however, is completely up to you.

According to Kavin, some comedians use very specific creative devices – like a certain way of taking notes when funny things happen around them – but those don’t really work for him.

“There’s no one way to do it. You just have to find what works best for you.”

4. “You can’t work with creative people.”
Creative people can be difficult sometimes, because they don’t often play well with conventional rules and structures (refer to point #2). So how do you work with them?

“You don’t. You just let them be!” said Kavin jokingly. “But seriously, you hired them for a reason, for the way they are and the work they produce. So just let them do what you pay them to do, as long as they are producing the goods.”

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