Being a creative is scary. It is relying on one of the most historically unreliable resources of all: . In Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he says in the course of human history “ creativity was held to be a prerogative of supreme beings. Religions the world over are based on origin myths in which one or more gods shaped the heavens, the earth, and the waters. It was only very recently in the history of the human race that tables were reversed: It was now men and women who were the creators and gods the figments of their imagination.” This switch in roles within life happened as we gradually increased our understanding of how the world works, lessening our need for supernatural or religious justifications for what happens around us.

Ego and Design — throwing yourself under the bus for a good cause

Illustration by the Happening Studio

When you do work, a part of you inherently goes in it; it’s failure belongs to you as well. Psychology and Psychoanalysis have also had a go at trying to understand the creative individual and have theorized on what motivates artists to create. Zöe Barber (2006), in his essay Ego takes a trip presented in the book Open Manifesto — Some thoughts on graphic design investigates the roles the ego, the superego and the id play in the Visual Communicator.


“ distinguishes each individual from another. In psychology, it controls and mediates behaviour and provides a defence against the demands and expectations of the id.


“the dark, inaccessible part of our personality. The foundation for the psychoanalytical concept of the ego comes from the Freudian theory of the unconscious mind. The ego serves as a mediator, an in-built creative director, balancing external temptations and persuasions, against accepted behaviours as informed by the superego.


It is focused primarily on the restrictions and logics of reality.

Creativity arises from the conflicts and combinations of ideas within those 3 realms of the mind.

The common characteristics between creative individuals have been narrowed down by IQ and personality tests. Some of the common features include:

  • independence of judgment
  • self-confidence
  • a reliance on emotional intuition (the ‘hunch’)
  • a well-established belief in the self as a creative person.

That means that it is as important as anything else in the creative process for the individual to believe in himself as capable of tackling the problem.

Are we ready to assume a big ego despite our anxiety when facing the pressure of creating something original? To believe in ourselves would be to put a little bit of our personalities in what we deliver; any criticism directed to the final outcome is innately also directed to us.

“Creativity requires taking what Einstein called ‘a leap into the unknown’. This can mean putting your beliefs, reputation and resources on the line as you suffer the slings and arrows of ridicule.”.
Dr. Francis Barron, The Shaping of Personality: Conflict, Choice and Growth

Illustration by Kamanashish Roy

It comes as no surprise then, that the most creative individuals are the ones willing to put themselves in the line of fire and that are not afraid of trial and error. As Marty Neumeier (1996) wrote in his book Rebellion “the most daring thinkers are those with a high degree of self-confidence. This may explain why there are so many outsized egos in graphic design — the work requires it.” As Barber continues to investigate, the Visual Communicator must also be highly intelligent, but “Such intelligence may not be academic, but rather social, cultural or visual.”

That is to say, the more sensible we are to those aspects, the more will our outcomes communicate to the public in an unconscious level, delivering more to the ocular psyche and becoming more meaningful.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You got this.

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