The 6 Factors That Matter: Tina Seelig on Creativity

Creativity is subjective, but we have a tendency to look at creativity in a narrow way. Tina Seelig has delivered a very interesting TEDx talk entitled A Crash Course in Creativity where she have identified the 6 factors that matter and we should examine to get to know the concept of creativity even more, and how they are interlinked or related.

It’s about time to ‘open the aperture’ to allow more light in in terms of understanding creativity.

Tina Seelig on Creativity


Tina Seelig considers imagination as the catalyst for the transformation of knowledge into new ideas. For her, to imagine means three things: (1) reframing questions to be asked, (2) connecting and combining unrelated ideas, and (3) challenging assumptions.

Our formal educational system has no way in directly teaching us on how to be imaginative, therefore it is a skill that can be acquired even outside school. However, as a Professor, I always try to encourage creativity even if I’m teaching a very ‘prim and proper’ discipline, International Relations. Creativity in learning, in my own opinion, is not limited to the arts and humanities, but every

discipline can reframe questions to encourage students to look at other ways of analyzing things. Somehow, this exercise could lead students to connect unrelated things to come up with new ideas. Lastly, getting stuck on specific assumptions limit the options available to us because sticking to assumptions could lead us to eliminate other opportunities at solving problems.


Tina Seelig believes that knowledge is the toolbox for creativity.

Knowledge are mostly acquired from school, but each and everyone of us can acquire new knowledge everywhere, even in places we frequent in. Who knows how much new ideas we can come up with by repeatedly walking the same path everyday but looking closely and paying attention to details that we don’t usually see before?

I remember Keri Smith’s book How to be an Explorer of the World where I did the first activity, Right Where I’m Sitting.


Tina Seelig emphasized that attitude is the spark that gets us going.

It is basically where our drive and motivation are coming from. The right attitude can also define how we see ourselves. For creativity, we should behave and see ourselves as quilt makers (who can create something out of the most random stuff) than a puzzle maker (who creates something out of pieces that are only meant to be together in a single way).

This totally makes sense. And it reminded me so much of Austin Kleon’s Quilt Tape project.


Simply put, Tina Seelig considers habitat as the environment that encourages creativity.

It can be anything around us: from people we work with, rules, rewards, constraints, and incentives, among others. Our physical spaces tells us the roles we should play and how we should act.

I think this is why I want my work space as colorful and as vibrant as possible, so that I can always have something to think about, specifically creative ideas.


It’s easy to think about resources as money, but Tina Seelig said it could be anything: natural resources, processes, cultures, etc.

At the end of the day, it always boils down to how we can make sense of the resources we currently have as opposed to what resources we don’t have.

This is how exactly creativity should be encouraged.


Tina Seelig considers culture as the ‘background music’ of the entire creative process. This is what sets the tone and mood of every community, and it helps define the message of every creation that we are intending to be perceived by our audience.

A Mobius Strip

Finally, Tina Seelig emphasized that these 6 factors should not be categorized or treated as standalone factors to encourage creativity, but they are intertwined and therefore should be developed altogether.

I seriously believe this can allow me to get to know my creative self more and therefore to pursue the things I love.

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