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The subtle difference between creativity and obscenity

I've always encouraged creativity, as I like to think of myself as a creative person, too. As a graphic design teacher, I got to see a lot of wonderfully creative people, and a few who, uh, weren't. And it almost always had to do with the subtle difference between creativity and obscenity. Please let me explain.

One of the reasons that creative people like to be creative is the joy of seeing other people's reaction. Stuff that is amazingly creative always provokes something of a gasp. In my *Concept Development* class at The Art Institute, I got to witness quite a lot of this reaction. And I got to see a lot of wonderfully creative people who went on to express themselves with all of the great technology that was becoming available at that time. But it was a fine line. We were teaching commercial art, so we didn't want obscenity, but we were encouraging creativity, so we didn't want the work to be boring.

So, I learned to see when a little bit of, uh, skulls with blood dripping, or cleavage, or that sort of thing, was important to the concept. And although I'm a bit of a prude, being an old corporate guy, I learned to accept a bit of it in order to preserve the creative integrity of the piece. But I knew when obscenity was being used as a replacement for creativity. And it's just sad.

Part of the reason that people use obscenity, either visually or in language, is to get that *gasp* response that true creativity gives. I've been in classrooms when obscenity has seemed to provoke the same reaction as creativity, but believe me, there is a difference. I couldn't say this as a teacher, but I can say it here - if your creativity is so low that you have to resort to obscenity, you really don't got game. Go home.

If you want to know if you're creative or just obscene - try this test: Remove the obscenity from your work. If you still get a positive reaction, you are creative. If not, you're just obscene. Sorry about that.