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What Sparks Creativity?

Creativity can be seen everywhere. It is the basis of innovation and the foundation that allows us to create something out of nothing. Is there anything better than the thrilling feeling of a light bulb in your mind suddenly glowing to life? "Eureka!" and a new idea is born.

There is no doubt that mastering the art of creativity is quite a challenge. In the midst of writing essays, composing music, making artwork, or completing school projects, it is common to find yourself stuck. How can you get your imagination flowing and spark creativity? In this article, we seek to answer just this question. We dive into the science behind creativity and how it can be achieved from a young artist's perspective.

What is creativity and the science behind it?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines creativity as "the ability to produce original and unusual ideas or make something new or imaginative." But how exactly does one gain this ability?

By investigating our brains' circuitry and the neuroscience behind creativity, research explains how three different networks in the brain interact and make connections to initiate creative processes.

  • The Executive Attention Network targets attention and focus.

  • The Imagination Network supports creative activities, including general thinking and daydreaming.

  • The Salience Network identifies which brain networks should be switched on and off when faced with processing given information.

The interactions and connections formed between these three networks result in the ability to think in unique ways, allowing for new and original ideas.

Ways to stimulate the brain and spark creativity

The American Psychological Association provides a few research-backed methods of cultivating creativity. To implement creativity as a routine within your life, you should focus on strengthening four core skill sets: capturing new ideas, seeking out challenges, broadening knowledge, and surrounding yourself with interesting people and environments. Research has also shown a link between creativity and overall well-being. If you find yourself stuck and in need of an innovative boost, researchers recommend sleeping on it, collaborating with a group, getting a dose of sunshine, and doing activities that bring you happiness! For further reading and a detailed view of the research studies uncovering these practices, visit the full article here.

Interview with Mia Bekic

For the bulk of this piece, I had the opportunity to interview Mia Bekic. Mia, a grade 12 student and passionate artist, recently pursued the grand project of painting a mural at her school. Through her artwork, she aims to share a powerful message that encourages students to unleash creativity and take art classes. In the interview below, Mia shares her perspective and insights on creativity!

Tell us about yourself and your passion for art!

Hello! My name is Mia Bekic, and I am a 17-year-old student at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario. I am currently in grade 12 and planning to go to university next fall. My passion for art started at a really young age! I used to draw all the time and still do to this day. My parents have supported my love for art throughout my life and encouraged me to improve my skills further. The art department at STM has also pushed my creative abilities above and beyond and enhanced my skills and techniques.

Tell us about your recent project painting a mural at school! What inspired this? What message do you wish to convey to students through this art piece?

Ever since grade 9, I have wanted to do a big mural. The biggest paintings I have ever done were only on regular-sized canvases. My art teachers approached me before the March break with the idea of a Star Wars Mandalorian themed mural! I was beyond thrilled to be able to get to work on a piece almost twice the height of me! We used the popular phrase, "this is the way," as I painted the mural right before the art hallway. Not only does it give an amazing pop of colour, but it also directs students that they are approaching the art hallway in just a few steps. I wanted to convey the message that everyone should take an art class or try to create art. I wanted students to know that art can be used as a tool to express yourself and let your imagination run loose.

Mia Bekic and her mural (pictured above)

What does creativity mean to you?

To me, creativity means expressing yourself in different ways and challenging yourself to think outside of the box. Creativity helps get my ideas going for new projects, but life, in general, helps me problem solve if I come to a roadblock.

What are some ways you get into an artistically creative mindset?

To get into an artistically creative mindset, I start by making sure I'm in a comfortable area. I also turn on some of my favourite music. When tackling a new project, I brainstorm and jot down any ideas I have. I also look at some inspiration online, either real-life photos or art by other artists.

What advice would you give to students that are currently struggling to find creativity?

  • As cheesy as it sounds, never give up! Starting a piece may seem like one of the hardest things to do, but trust the process and always have faith in yourself. You will eventually overcome this roadblock and be on the road to success.

  • Do not be afraid to look at some inspiration online! It helps to get your creativity going and may spark some ideas.

  • Talk to your friends, parents, teachers or peers on potential ideas! It is always nice to talk to someone about something you may be struggling with. Talking it out with someone may help you destress and help you find your creativity!

  • Make sure to take breaks every so often! Being in the right mindset when starting a new project is important. This is where a comfortable environment is key! Even as someone who has been drawing and painting for a while now, I am definitely not able to do big pieces in one sitting.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Thank you so much to the Race to a Cure team for this amazing opportunity to share my talent and speak about something so important in my life. As for everyone reading this, do not be afraid to start your art journey! Everyone can make art, and everyone's journey starts at a different pace. All you have to do is experiment and find what works for you and what you like. Practice and consistency are key. Once you start drawing more often and become more comfortable, you will be able to tackle anything!

Mia and two of her pieces (pictured above)

Follow Mia along her journey to inspire others through her powerful artwork by following @miabekic and @bymiabekic on Instagram and @miabekic on Twitter.

Creativity can mean something different to everyone, and so the question ‘what sparks creativity?’ will never have a single definite answer. Instead, explore a collection of ways that can broaden your thinking, stimulate the brain, and help you generate extraordinary ideas. Find what works for you, and remember that patience is key when it comes to formulating brilliant ideas. Creativity is consistently advancing the world in tremendous ways, and so we encourage you never to stop thinking outside of the box and seeking the creative spark within your mind!


Alison Koontz. “The Circuitry of Creativity: How Our Brains Innovate Thinking.” Caltech

Letters, 12 Mar. 2019, caltechletters.org/science/what-is-creativity.

“CREATIVITY: Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.” Cambridge Dictionary,


“The Science of Creativity.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological

Association, www.apa.org/gradpsych/2009/01/creativity.

Article Author: Victoria Huang

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Edie Whittington