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My ADHD Creativity

There are studies that have shown that people with ADHD tend to be more creative. Here is a link to one such study. From early on I was always seen as "traditionally" creative. It wasn't until later on that I learned that ADHD can contribute to creativity. When I was really young, I would tell vivid stories with my action figures. Later I began drawing when I was around 8 years old. It began with your basic dinosaurs. It later became Ninja Turtles, and a rather ingenious concept for a Zelda 3 game for Nintendo that, unfortunately, never took off. Eventually, it graduated to drawing detailed drawings of characters from books I was reading, and by the time I was in high school, I became the quiet kid who would sit in

Cover design for the comic book I wrote in high school.

the back of the classroom drawing pictures instead of taking notes. Teachers would often try to pull a fast one on me thinking I wasn't paying attention, but little did they know that this was actually my version of a fidget spinner and I was hearing every word they would say. So, when they would pop a question on me, I would answer it without even looking up. Most of my teachers learned pretty quickly that I needed this to keep my brain engaged. Needless to say, I drew so much that I had drawn my own comic book essentially by the time I graduated. Sadly, I ended up giving the one and only copy I had to my ex's little brother who probably destroyed it or threw it in the trash years ago.

Drawing I made after my dad passed away.

I did this for a practice when I wanted to become a comic book artist.
Spider-Man Comic Page design

After I graduated, I moved to Seattle with hopes that I would be able to get out of the small town funk that I was in and be able to somehow jumpstart my art career as either a comic book artist or a concept design artist for movies or video games by living in a city that hosted not 1 but 2 major art schools, The Art Institute and Cornish. Ultimately, it took me 3 years of struggling and jumping from retail job to retail job before I finally decided I wouldn't be able to get into a university like that and opted to just do a "Multimedia Design and Production" program at Lake Washington Technical College.

I got through about a year and a half of that before I ended up having to drop out of that school to move back to Wenatchee.

It wasn't until a few years later that my wife Mei-lan convinced me to give art school another shot. It was at this time that I decided to try for the Art Institute Online. I ended up taking out student loans (the biggest mistake ever!) and starting the Media Arts and Animation program. Out of the 4 years I attended the Art Institute, I got "maybe" 3 good classes from it. All of the rest were basically just good "guides" of what videos to look up on YouTube to learn stuff. Hell, half of my 3d animation classes consisted of the instructors providing us links to YouTube videos to watch and follow as our weekly assignments.

Plant Creature Concept

After 4 years of taking classes part-time while working full-time and helping to support my family, I found out that I had run out of financial aid. And, since I couldn't afford to take out private loans to finish school, I opted to drop out of the Art Institute as well. This was one of the hardest decisions of my life because it meant that I was having to give up on my dream. I would either have to move the family to someplace like California, which I wasn't willing to do. My only option if I stayed local, however, was to do some freelance graphic design stuff for locals, which I really had no desire to do.

Model I created for a 3d Character design class I took through the Art Institute
Creature Concept Model

So, after a long talk with my wife, we decided that since I was already naturally good with computers, I would just continue to pursue my IT career. It wasn't, however, until I got diagnosed with ADHD and came to learn about the positive aspects of ADHD, that I realized how my ADHD has been a huge contributor to my creativity and has helped even in IT.

So, for the past 10 years, I've been using my ADHD creativity to assist me in working my way up the ladder of IT working for various companies. I see the creativity in how I am able to think outside the box and find answers to difficult problems and come up with solutions to improve productivity that most neurotypical people might not see. I still do artwork on the side as one of my many hobbies. And I have at least been able to apply some of the knowledge I acquired while going to school. I helped jump-start the IT side of our local community college's art and engineering program thanks to my knowledge of the 3d modeling software that was being used and my ability to think creatively to come up with innovative solutions. For example, I figured out a way to utilize any computer that wasn't being used by a student on the network as a processor for rendering 3D animations.

I'm a member of numerous ADHD support groups and I see the topic of ADHD and creativity come up all the time. This, in and of itself, is evidence that there must be something to this. I've seen arguments for both sides of the coin. Often the arguments against ADHDers being more creative have mostly come from fellow ADHDers who only see the struggles that ADHD causes and can't see the benefits. They end up saying things like "ADHD doesn't make you more creative, I know because I'm not creative." However, I posit that these people just haven't found their own unique form of creativity yet. You see, creativity doesn't just have to mean that you are artistic. Creativity can come in many other different forms. For instance, the programmer that is able to develop a more efficient code for their product is creative because she was able to think outside the box to make the code function better. The accountant who is able to increase a client's tax deduction because of a hard-to-find loophole is creative because, well, let's face it, tax laws are hard. And you have to be pretty damn creative to figure out how to navigate it in the most efficient ways. So, before you write yourself off as "not creative" consider looking at things from a different perspective in order to find your creativity. You might just find it in a place you didn't even think of.

Part of my Zodiac Creatures Project
Pisces Creature from my "Zodiac Creatures" project.


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