What is Creative Performance

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Creative Performance is the application of performance psychology strategies and mental skills training to the creative process in order to improve resilience, reduce pressures and blocks, and enhance energy and attention resources.

Professional performers, such as athletes, dancers, and musicians are required practice, prepare, and rehearse in order to deliver a successful result—delivering this result is usually done under pressure. Heavy emphasis on successful outcomes as markers for judging success is a striking common denominator between creative professionals and other types of performers. According to prominent sport and performance psychologists, “Successful performance requires both the development and mastery of Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) and the capability to consistently and reliably deliver (i.e. perform) KSAs at the time of performance” (Aoyogi and Portenga, 2010). The capability to “consistently and reliably deliver” is absolutely essential in any professional creative environment, but it can be very difficult to do—but why?

Simple answer: expectations to continually produce and deliver fresh ideas take a serious mental, emotional, and physical toll on those who create for a living. Filling blank spaces with rich content under pressure for a living is tough work! Sometimes we run out of fuel, get stuck, or get in our own way as we progress through the creative process, day after day, month after month, year after year. Performance pressure is a widely accepted term in the world of sport and even the performing arts arenas of dance and theater, but it doesn’t just exist in those areas alone. It extends into any domain in which someone is responsible for producing a successful outcome under scrutiny or evaluation.

Running out of creative fuel

Fueling our creative tank through learning to manage energy and attention resources effectively, implementing consistent self-care practices, etc…all become vital components of sustainable creative practice. Performing at a high level as a creative professional does not happen in a vacuum—like simply following a playbook does not guarantee success for an athlete, only adhering to a project brief does not guarantee success for a creative practitioner. Additionally, creative performance often happens, like in many other performance realms, within a group of other professionals. This presents unique, dynamic challenges in the work environment as working together toward tasks and goals will at times inevitably lead to conflict and disagreement.

Why is it important? 

We strongly feel it’s time to formally acknowledge the performance needs of creative practitioners as whole people, as human beings who are as affected by the process of creating as they are by the outcomes they produce. We believe mental, emotional, and physical challenges/setbacks that come as a result of any creative profession should be freely discussed in a safe space without fear of judgment. Frederick Douglass nailed it when he said : “A person is worked upon by what they work on” (quote modified to be gender inclusive). We understand that contrary to popular belief, creativity is not always a luxurious or carefree endeavor. Mental fatigue and creative burnout are no joke—these are powerful, quality-of-life altering forces the require targeted strategies to be effectively managed. 

Who is it good for?

If you are a maker, manager, or administrator that works in any creative domain, Creative Performer workshops are designed for you. Creative teams of any shape and size, including, but not limited to: design, branding, illustration & fine art, digital, or advertising + marketing firms, in-house creative teams, faculty and or students within design education programs…we’re talking to you! Through over a decade of active practice and teaching, we’ve seen and felt first-hand the negative impact a “create on demand” mentality can have on those in any kind of creative practice. We have developed strategies specifically tailored to address these demands and support your success.