Beauty or bunk? The art of creativity

Bill Stott art cartoon
© Bill Stott @

Cartoonist and member Bill Stott talks creativity while trying to avoid the usual pitfalls

“Creativity is bunk” – I can’t remember where I read that, but it sort of lodged, because its bizarre. Not unlike Big Brother being classed as entertainment.

Maybe its one of the utterings of the great, good, and often dead. Like Henry Ford’s “History is bunk”. Mind you, historians tell us that he never actually said it. That’s a relief then. But somebody who might have said the one may have said the other.

And what’s “bunk” when it’s at home? Cowboys sleep on them, as do sailors, but such are the mysteries of the English language that “bunk” also means “nonsense” and, more recently, “boring”.

“Creativity is nonsense/boring”. Hmm. Should really define “creativity” first, I suppose. But I’ll neatly sidestep that by not doing so. Huge danger there, particularly for an artist, of falling into the head-up-arse artbollocks trap. Let’s leave that to the critics.

Bill Stott art cartoon
© Bill Stott @

If Ford did say it, he was wrong. Without engineering creativity, he’d never have been able to churn out millions of black Model Ts (and they weren’t all black and he never said they had to be. Apparently). He surely didn’t think the millions he made out of bunk were boring.

Let’s face it, I’m avoiding the issue here. “Creativity is bunk” is aimed at we airy-fairy, arty types who dare to put substance to their imaginings. And I’m not at all sure that there are people who cannot appreciate beauty, or at least arresting physical fact. If there were, it wouldn’t have been necessary to invent things like “I don’t know much about Art but I know what I like”.

I have a neighbour who can’t tell a Rembrandt from a Bacon, but who waxes lyrical about the design of his golf clubs. He doesn’t make the link. But he does think they’re beautiful. Maybe the thing is that they are beautiful because they are things of purpose, like a beautiful car (not yours, Henry) or a beautiful greyhound. This last isn’t a good example because when greyhounds stop making money, they stop being desirably beautiful and become pet food.

Creativity, in all its artistic, technological and scientific forms is the antithesis of bunk. Creativity is asking questions about the nature of creation. Better go steady here – artbollocks looms – so let’s use mathematics as an example instead.

Maths is/are beautiful. There’s a logical symmetry there that is unbeatable. And if you’re bright enough to push the maths boat right out, it brushes aside logic, symmetry, and for us artproles, even understanding. No mathsbollocks there, just quantum mechanics.

Our thanks to Bill. You can see lots of examples of creativity in action if you check out his portfolio and many others here

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