Wednesday, July 22, 2009

creative anxiety

Apparently creative anxiety is a hot topic.

There are creativity coaches, like the multi-book author Eric Maisel, PhD who help people deal with anxiety related to creative production. In a write-up on this random blog, Barbara Martin quotes Meisel, saying:
“We get anxious when we fear that we are about to embark on something with potentially negative consequences for our mental, emotional, physical, existential or spiritual health. That is not irrational. That is the epitome of rationality.”
and comments that:
Anxiety or fear can prevent us from creating at our best and sometimes causes blocks, stopping us from creating at all. These fears can make us hesitate at the outset of a project or take a detour in the middle or fail to complete, and fear or anxiety can skew our decision-making in ways intended to protect us against bad consequences.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Back when I was working on Small Steps, I conducted an expert interview with my mom to learn about anxiety treatments in the mental health profession (relating to eco-anxiety). My mom said a few things that really resonated with me...anxiety is necessary. Too much can become debilitating, but without any a person cannot anticipate consequences to their actions and end up somewhat sociopathic. But what really stuck with me was the notion of anxiety as a motivator.

Perhaps I can play off of this concept and use anxiety as a motivator for creativity, or aim to reduce the anxiety associated with my undergrad thesis related to anxiety/obsession so maybe I could connect the concepts I explored then with my master's thesis. ha.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

research findings show that multi-cultural exposure enhance creativity

Kathryn found this article and forwarded it to me: Think outside your box: Enhancing creativity through multicultural interactions. It covers a few scientific studies (questionably valid experiments, in my opinion) that imply that creativity is heightened by exposure to other viewpoints.
While it was shown that multicultural experiences can promote creativity, the authors believe that people’s receptiveness to foreign ideas is another important creativity-enhancing factor – that people can receive greater creative benefits when they are open-minded.

When individuals are aware of the differences among ideas, they would want to arrive at a deeper, more complex understanding of these ideas through comparison, differentiation and identification of commonality

heath ceramics

Kathryn and I visited Heath Ceramics over the weekend. It flicked a switch in me. It made me think, "I want to do this." The new owners, a designer couple, bought the business 6 years ago. They were able to modernize and streamline Heath while still maintaining a quality product which is both beautiful and functional. that's what I hope to be able to do when I graduate from this program. Unrelated to thesis stuff except for the fact that I want my thesis to help me build the skills I need to bring design thinking/innovation to an organization.

what's my passion?

If I am going to work on this for a year, I think I should be passionate about the topic, audience, something...

Here's a list of things I am passionate about. Or, things I like/get excited by that I doubt I'd get sick of over the course of a year:
  • Creativity
  • Home Decor
  • Diet Coke
  • Ceramics
  • "Pretty" things
  • food
  • Illustrator
  • digestable information/infographics
  • craft
  • empowerment
  • ownership
  • fun/playfulness
  • TANK

crayola embraces the power of creativity

About a month ago, when I started thinking about this project, I did what most people do when they are looking for something: I Googled it. More explicitly, I googled "power of creativity."

Crayola has a program called "Power of Creativity" which asks parents to encourage creativity. I the opening letter of the program guide, Cheri Sterman, Crayola Director of Child Development says:
Creative expression helps children believe in themselves and feel that they have something unique to offer. Art helps children enjoy bright, colorful lives and reach their full potential.

Creativity is not so much about children becoming accomplished artists, as it is about expressing what’s inside. Expressing thoughts and feelings through art is important throughout childhood and in helping children develop into accomplished adults. Our parental role is to encourage creative activities to ensure our children reach their full potential...

While I am less interested in empowering children through creativity, the words of Cheri Sterman resonate with me.

[It] is not so much about children becoming accomplished artists, as it is about expressing what’s inside.

Other words of wisdom from Crayola:
Those with the ability to “think outside of the box” will lead the future and make special things happen...Seeds of creativity live in everyone.

The guide goes on to suggest projects parents can do with their kids. It's an odd creative jump-start for parents, and makes me think "since you were deprived of this as a child, here's some ideas." Are there guides like this for parents?

Monday, July 13, 2009

the beginning

All theses start somewhere. Mine is starting with an amorphous idea...

Throughout high school, college and after I graduated from college I worked at paint-your-own pottery studios. I worked at 4 different studios, but they all were basically the same: people walked in, picked out a piece of pre-formed, slip-cast bisque, painted it with underglazes, we glazed it with a clear glaze, fired it, and they came to pick up their food-safe, somewhat dishwasher safe creation. I loved it. It was basically a retail position with art mixed in, but there was another element that was very appealing to me.

One thing I experienced numerous times at all of these places was a customer who would transform over the course of their visit. Typically it would be a 30-40 year old woman who would come in with a group of friends. Upon entrance to the store, she would confide in me and shamefully say "I can't draw" or "I'm not creative" or "I suck at art" or "Mine will look like a 5-year-old made it." They'd putter around the store, taking forever to pick out a piece, and I'd talk to them about potential ways they could paint their piece. I'd show them idea books, stamps, stencils, and sample pieces throughout the store. They'd nervously come to a decision about their piece and their design direction. I'd give them their glazes, go over instructions, and then watch the transformation begin.

The timid woman would sketch with a pencil on her piece, and dip her paint brush in the glaze. Everything would be slow, painstakingly approached and restrained. About 30 minutes into painting, there would be a change. The woman would be helping herself to more paint; offering advice or feedback to her friends; or even sitting there, experiencing flow. After finishing her piece, the woman would proudly show it to me, her friends, and others in the studio. Her sheepish expression that she had when she entered the studio would be replaced by a big grin, or a calm sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

For my thesis, I'd like to explore the power of creativity and doing, and the transformation one goes through by embracing the creative process. I plan on investigating the reframing of one's identity from someone who "can't draw" or "sucks at art" to an individual who can create beautiful things, and what that enables the individual to accomplish in all dimensions of their life.