Create. Because you fucking can.

Joan Westenberg
10 min readMar 31, 2024
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

In the late 1980s, in a dimly lit studio filled with the smell of latex and rubber, and the growing buzz of creative energy, Phil Tippett, a maestro of movie magic who would boast credits in iconic films such as “Star Wars” and “Jurassic Park,” was beginning the work of a lifetime. It wasn’t a project commissioned by Hollywood moguls or inspired by the promise of box office gold. It was driven by something far more primal — a deep, insatiable need to create. This was the genesis of “Mad God,” a project that defies conventional understanding of purpose, productivity, and commercial viability in the world of film.

Tippett’s initial work on “Mad God” was shelved as life, and more immediate career opportunities took precedence. But the project was never forgotten. It simmered in the back of his mind, a vivid world suspended in the amber of his imagination, waiting for the right moment to be unleashed. This persistence is what kept “Mad God” alive.

Years passed, technology evolved, and Tippett’s career flourished, and the landscape of visual effects changed, veering towards the digital. But the allure of stop-motion, with its tactile, hands-on nature, called to Tippett. When most of his peers were abandoning their craft for CGI, Tippett zagged where others zigged, returning to the labor-intensive love of stop-motion for “Mad God.” It was a defiant middle finger to the prevailing winds of the industry — a deliberate choice to create something purely for the sake of creation, with no regard for its marketability.

Using Kickstarter, Tippett resurrected “Mad God.” The project attracted a community of artists, interns, and enthusiasts, all united by a shared passion for creation. Together, they brought to life a dystopian universe that was disturbing, beautiful, and utterly unique. “Mad God” emerged as an art piece, a visual poem born from the depths of Tippett’s creative genius.

For Tippett, “Mad God” was a lifetime’s culmination of skills, experiences, and uncounted hours of experimentation in visual storytelling. The meticulous nature of stop-motion animation — where every frame is a labor of love, every miniature set and character born from patience and precision — meant that Tippett and his team were creating a film by engaging in a form of high art, dedicating thousands of hours to bring this vision to reality. The lack of mainstream expectations allowed for unparalleled creative risks, turning “Mad God” into a project that could push boundaries without fear of failure. And on release, “Mad God” became a critical and cult favourite.

“Mad God” is what can happen when creativity is pursued for its own sake, unencumbered by the constraints of commercial success. It challenges the notion that value in the creative industry is solely determined by marketability or widespread appeal.

The world needs more stories like that of Phil Tippett and “Mad God.” Stories that remind us that beyond the metrics of success and the accolades of mainstream recognition lies the true heart of creativity: the dedicated pursuit of one’s vision, against all odds, not for fame or fortune, but for the sheer, indomitable love of creation.

There is value in creating for creation’s sake. In a culture that prioritizes productivity, metrics, and tangible outcomes above all else, the idea of engaging in a creative endeavor solely for the pleasure and satisfaction of the process can seem frivolous, even indulgent. We are conditioned from an early age to believe that every action must have a purpose, every effort a measurable result. But what if we challenged this notion? What if we embraced the power and beauty of creation for creation’s sake?

From the moment we are born, human beings are naturally drawn to the act of creation. As children, we build sandcastles, draw pictures, and tell stories, not because we expect fame, fortune, or even recognition, but because the process itself brings us joy. We create to express ourselves, to make sense of the world around us, and to explore the boundless realms of our imagination. Through these early creative endeavors, we learn to take risks, to experiment, and to embrace the possibilities of our own minds.

As we grow older, societal pressures and expectations stifle this innate creative drive. We begin to question the value of our creations if they don’t serve a practical purpose or garner external validation. We start to believe that art, in all its forms, must justify its existence through commercial success, critical acclaim, or social impact. We internalize the message that our creations are only worthwhile if they can be monetized, if they can be turned into a career or a side hustle.

But the truth is that creating for the pure love of creating is not a waste of time or resources. In fact, it is essential for our mental well-being, personal growth, and even innovation. When we engage in the creative process without the burden of expectations or judgement, we tap into a part of ourselves that is free, authentic, and unbounded by convention. We allow ourselves to take risks, experiment, and explore new ideas without fear of failure. In doing so, we not only nurture our own creative spirits but also contribute to a world that is more vibrant, innovative, and alive.

The benefits of creation for creation’s sake are numerous and far-reaching. On a personal level, engaging in creative activities can be a powerful form of self-expression and self-discovery. When we create, we give voice to our innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We have the opportunity to explore aspects of ourselves that may otherwise remain hidden or suppressed. This process can be deeply therapeutic, providing an outlet for emotions and helping us to make sense of the complexities of our lives.

The act of creation itself can be a form of meditation, a way to quiet the mind and find a sense of flow. When we immerse ourselves in a creative project, whether it be painting, writing, composing music, or any other form of artistic expression, we enter a state of heightened focus and presence. Time seems to stand still, and the outside world falls away. In these moments, we are fully engaged in the present moment, our minds and bodies working in harmony towards a singular goal. This experience can be deeply rejuvenating, providing a much-needed respite from the stresses and demands of daily life.

Creating for creation’s sake allows us to cultivate a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around us. When we approach the creative process with an open mind and a willingness to explore, we begin to see the world in new and exciting ways. We become more attuned to the beauty and complexity of our surroundings, more appreciative of the subtle details and patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed. This heightened awareness can spill over into other areas of our lives, enriching our relationships, our work, and our overall sense of well-being.

The value of creation extends far beyond the final product. Even if the outcome is not perfect, polished, or commercially viable, the process of bringing something new into the world is inherently worthwhile. Every act of creation, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, contributes to the richness and diversity of human experience. It is through the collective efforts of individuals daring to create for creation’s sake that we push the boundaries of what is possible and inspire others to do the same.

Some of the most groundbreaking and influential works of art throughout history were created purely for the sake of creation. Take, for example, the sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci. These intimate journals, filled with drawings, diagrams, and musings, were never intended for public consumption. They were simply a way for da Vinci to explore his own ideas, to experiment with different techniques and styles, and to satisfy his insatiable curiosity about the world around him. Yet, centuries later, these sketchbooks continue to inspire and influence artists, scientists, and thinkers around the globe.

The works of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most celebrated poets, were largely unknown during her lifetime. Dickinson wrote over 1,800 poems, but only a handful were published while she was alive. She wrote not for fame or recognition, but because she felt compelled to create, to give voice to the profound emotions and experiences that shaped her inner world. It was only after her death that her genius was fully recognized, her poems cherished for their raw honesty, their linguistic precision, and their ability to capture the essence of the human condition.

The value of creation cannot be measured solely by external metrics of success. The act of creation itself is a success, a triumph of the human spirit and a testament to the enduring power of the imagination.

When society prioritizes cut throat, blood sweat and tears productivity over passion, defending the right to create without justification or apology can be a radical act. It’s a form of resistance against the pressure to constantly prove our worth through external measures of success and instead trust in the inherent value of the creative process itself.

This can be especially difficult when the lines between work and leisure are increasingly blurred, where the pressure to monetize our passions and turn our hobbies into side hustles is ever-present. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that every moment of our lives must be optimized for maximum efficiency and productivity, that every pursuit must have a clear and measurable outcome.

This mindset robs us of the joy and fulfillment that comes from creating for creation’s sake. And it stifles innovation and progress. When we become too focused on short-term gains and immediate results, we lose sight of the bigger picture. We become less willing to take risks, to experiment with new ideas, and to pursue projects that may not have an obvious payoff.

When we embrace the freedom to create without the pressure of external expectations, we open ourselves up to a world of possibility. We allow ourselves to be guided by our own curiosity, our own passions, and our own innate desire to explore and express ourselves. We create not because we have to, but because we want to, because the act of creation itself brings us joy and fulfillment.

By defending the right to create for creation’s sake, we contribute to a society that values creativity, individuality, and self-expression. We send a powerful message that art and creativity are not merely luxuries or frivolous pursuits, but essential components of a healthy and vibrant culture. We remind ourselves and others that the value of creation lies not only in the final product, but in the process itself — in the courage to explore new ideas, to take risks, and to give voice to our unique perspectives and experiences.

In a moment in history that feels increasingly divided and polarized, the act of creation can be a powerful force for connection and unity. When we create, we tap into a shared human experience, a universal language that transcends boundaries of culture, race, and ideology. We remind ourselves that, despite our differences, we are all creators at heart, all driven by the same innate desire to make meaning out of the chaos of existence.

Through the act of creation, we also have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the world around us. Even if our creations are not widely recognized or celebrated in our lifetime, they have the potential to inspire and influence future generations in ways we cannot possibly imagine. Just as we draw inspiration from the works of those who came before us, our own creations may one day serve as a source of inspiration for others, sparking new ideas and fueling the ongoing cycle of human creativity and innovation.

I want to celebrate the sandcastles, the sketches, the stories, and all the creations that spring from the pure joy of making something new. And defend the right to create without justification or apology, to pursue our passions and explore our imaginations without fear of judgement or failure. I want to nurture my own creative spirits, but I also want to contribute to a world that is more vibrant, innovative, and alive.

We can all take inspiration from the likes of Phil Tippet, Leonardo da Vinci, and Emily Dickinson — creators who dared to follow their own artistic impulses, even in the face of indifference or obscurity. And we can remember that the value of creation isn’t in the accolades or the acclaim. It’s in the courage to bring something new and beautiful into the world, to add our own unique voices to the grand chorus of human expression.

In the end, perhaps the greatest defense of creation for creation’s sake is simply this: that it is a fundamental part of what makes us human. We are all creators, whether we realize it or not. We all have within us the power to shape the world around us, to leave our mark, however small or fleeting, on the canvas of existence. To create for the pure joy of creating is to embrace this power, to celebrate the miracle of our own consciousness and the limitless potential of the human imagination.

We create, not because we must, but because we can. We create for the sheer thrill of bringing something new into the world, for the satisfaction of watching an idea take shape beneath our hands, for the joy of losing ourselves in the flow of the creative process. We create for creation’s sake, and we affirm the beauty, the complexity, and the enduring resilience of the human spirit.

Life is chaotic, uncertain, and filled with terrifying unknowns. The act of creation is an act of hope and a lifeline to our shared humanity. When we create, we tap into a wellspring of resilience and strength that lies within each of us. No matter how dark or difficult the world may seem, there is always the potential for beauty, for meaning, and for positive change.

Every act of creation, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, contributes to the richness and beauty and meaning of our lives. Embrace the power and the promise of creation for creation’s sake. Carve out time and space in our lives to pursue our creative passions, whatever they may be. Approach the creative process with a sense of openness, curiosity, and joy, trusting in the inherent value of the journey itself.

In the words of philosopher and psychologist Rollo May,

“Creativity is not merely the innocent spontaneity of our youth and childhood; it must also be married to the passion of the adult human being, which is a passion to live beyond one’s death.”

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