Find Your Sacred Space: Jonathan Tilley on Creativity

I think I have found the best creativity TEDx talk so far. Jonathan Tilley talks about creativity and his advice to ‘find your sacred space’.

Creativity is individual as much as it is universal.

It might be true that creativity (or the creative process) is just like any other process: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In processes, it has the ‘input-process-output’ type of flow. This makes creativity universal, right?

But Jonathan Tilley asserts that even if creativity can appear just like any other things in this world (just like how Bill Stainton said that everyone can be creative by just ‘collecting and connecting the dots’), creativity can still be individual, and creativity and being creative can vary given so many factors.

“Creativity is necessary and has needs.”

Jonathan Tilley

So, her have ideas everyday but why can’t we be creative everyday?

Creativity needs sacred space.

Oh, is this related to what Tina Seelig said about the importance of the environment in creativity?


Creativity, according to Jonathan Tilley, needs ‘sacred space’.

And this is my sacred space:

It reminded me so much of the two-desk idea of Austin Kleon where he keeps two desks at his home: one for analog (no technology desk) and one for digital. I think it’s the best idea ever. I’ve been planning to have a small desk with only my laptop, and another desk where my laptop is off-limits and no technology is allowed.

As for different artists (and those who don’t consider themselves as artists), your sacred space can be anything: the nature, the library, a coffee shop, or even your dining table. As long as your chosen sacred space fuels your creativity, it doesn’t really matter where it is.

I suddenly got this idea for a creative project where I want to photograph people’s work from home desks.

Creativity need mistakes.

Making mistakes are my jam. You have no idea how many ‘mistakes’ I have done in this life, but we can never be thankful about making mistakes unless we eventually start making sense of them.

In order to be more creative and to give permission to be creative, Ethan Hawke said, you need to “play the fool”. We need to be vulnerable. We need to make mistakes. We need to get messy.

I don’t think we can have creative inspirations out of order and peace, can’t we?

Creativity needs to be shared.

I’m pretty sure Jonathan Tilley does not mean share your work on Instagram or something (and I myself will strongly advise against it because Instagram could be toxic for an artist and could even kill one’s creativity). There are many ways to share our work more than social media. How do you think pre-social media artists shared their work before?

Find Your Sacred Space
Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work
Find Your Sacred Space
Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work

Creativity is cyclical.

Whenever I hear the word ‘cyclical’ I always get reminded of the phrase ‘history repeats itself’ and how my college history professor has explained how different perspectives view history: some people view history as linear (like Francis Fukuyama), and some people view history as cyclical (like Karl Marx). Now, before this post becomes a history 101 blog, I’ll get to the point.

Jonathan Tilley said that we need to give our works their own sacred spaces. Do you see your paintings ending up in some restaurant walls? Do you see your photographs ending up in a coffee table book? Do you see your poems ending up tattooed on someone’s arm? Regardless of where this is, we need to give permission to our artworks to eventually have their own sacred spaces, and with that, we can start over by creating more art.

My Takeaways!

This talk by Jonathan Tilley has allowed me to reflect on how I should treat and nurture my creativity, and know the worth of my creative process and my creative outputs. Honestly, I don’t know how hard I should try showing and promoting my work to the world, but talks like this and books like Austin Kleon’s have given me clarity.

I think it’s about time to rearrange my sacred space and start creating yay!

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