The creativity gene


This is a typical scene. My daughter and stepson sitting at a crowded table covered in art and craft supplies; creating. In fact, my daughter is never happier then when she is ‘cuttin’ and gluin”.

It led me to think about creativity being genetic. There is a huge nature/nurture debate I know, but how much of our hobby enjoyment is genetic and how much is osmosis? And what better subject to discuss on mothering Sunday in the UK?!

From an early age I liked to make stuff. From ‘perfume’ in egg boxes at my grandmothers house using rose petals and lavender, to sewing a quilt for my dolly’s cot, I was always keen to be creating. My mother nurtured this, she is herself an amazing creative. She sews, quilts, embroiders, cooks, bakes and writes with amazing ability, and more recently has discovered a love of stamping and card making. She is also the most amazing linguist proficient and fluent in many languages. She would deny she is any good, but she really is my first inspiration.

My father sings, is an excellent mathematician and has a way of thinking that I have so fortunately inherited. The only way I can describe it is that we think ’round’ the problem rather than through it, making us both excellent problem solvers, and for me in particular, an idea generator. He writes in the most beautiful humbling way, making even a mundane two minute walk to work sound like the opening of a Graham Greene novel.

So is it that I have my creative gene from them, or is it just osmosis of a busy house and kitchen, being raised by parents who educated not only academically but culturally?

I have an older sister – Hannah. She too is very talented creatively – she is a photographer. This is not her day job though and I often wonder, if like me, she too is a frustrated creative.

I think I am blessed to have family that nurtured my talents. My great grandmother bought me my first watercolour pencils when I was seven, and my grandmother gave me her oil paints and artist equipment when she felt she could no longer sit to paint.

My uncle – another keen photographer – bought me my first automatic SLR camera for my 15th birthday.

I was always encouraged rather than dissuaded to take up the arts and I did indeed choose to study art, design and literature at A level.

I then went on to study Consumer Product Design at university over four years. I certainly had a flair for design, but in hindsight I think I would have enjoyed a graphic design course more than I did the product design course.

After the excitement of being accepted onto the course that I really wanted to do, I quickly discovered that university didn’t agree with me. I found it too contrived and the creative journey was not as wide and free as I perhaps would or should have enjoyed.

I finished my degree rather disheartened and then found a job doing something completely different! I continued to paint and draw but felt I didn’t want to pursue design.

Working at Penguin, I quickly became involved in all the creative projects I could, and in the team was often called upon for anything of that ilk. I also became rather proficient in public speaking and would be the one volunteered for those such occasions.

Even though I work in supply chain, I still am the ideas person, and although maybe my degree wasn’t the right one, I still learned so much that I can apply to everything.

So my upbringing and education all lends itself to the reason I enjoy the creative expression that I do, but also possibly the reason I am a frustrated creative.

Having children rekindled my love to make and in turn, I began this blog as one of those outlets.



And now it’s rubbing off on my daughter and my stepson, and I’m sure my son will join in too when he is old enough. Although with them I think it’s nurture (especialy as my stepson is not genetically related), time will tell if Etta and Elijah have my ‘creativity gene’.

For now, I love to watch them surrounded by pens (sometimes mine) and bits of paper and card, making wonderful creations to stick on he cupboards in the kitchen.

I hope that if any of them choose to follow a creative path then I will be able to support them the way in which my family supported me, regardless of what that path may be.

I guess, it’s too early to tell if it’s genetic, but it certainly is infectious!



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