Posted by: Liz Massey | July 16, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for July 16, 2009


Photo courtesy SXC.

Creativity can thrive, if you keep the e-mail in check
Ahh, yes, electronic mail. How did we ever function without it? More to the point, given the omnipresence of e-mail in the work world, how do we get anything done other than answering it?

This story, reported in the Boston Globe, notes the negative impact of continual e-mail (and the expectation of instantaneous responses) on productivity and innovation. It reports that workers get an average 156 e-mails a day and switch tasks every three minutes on average. Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies creativity in the workplace, told the Globe, “People are doing what I’m calling “firefighting,’” resolving the latest crisis or deadline without ever getting ahead of the work flow.

I like some of the solutions for combating the e-maelstrom and organizational ADD—IBM lets its employees engage in “ThinkFridays,” avoiding meetings, calls and e-mail in order to perform the core functions of their job, which frequently involve designing innovative products or services. The article underscores research and personal experience that indicate that less is more when it comes to personal productivity—that is, trying to do fewer highly strategic items is a better plan than do more on a to-do list that’s undifferentiated between crucial and nice-to-accomplish items.

Many thanks to the Heart of Innovation blog for pointing me to this intriguing article.

The Artist Statement
Tammy Vitale, writing on her Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together blog, pulls together some interesting information and commentary on how to (and why to) write an artist’s statement for one’s website or other printed materials. While I don’t do much in the visual arts (yet, anyway), I found the piece enlightening, as writing about oneself in a persuasive, yet integrity-filled, way, can often be a challenge, whether one is writing an artist’s statement, a biographical sketch for an article or a book, or an “About Me” page for one’s blog or website.

Tammy mentions art business coach Alyson Stanfield’s helpful dos and don’ts list for writing an artist’s statement and Molly Gordon’s How to Write and Use an Artist’s Statement. Molly’s suggestions are particularly fun, and useful, as she frames the development of a statement in terms of cooking a tasty meal:

“Think of your artist’s statement as a nourishing stew. The rich flavors and inviting aroma will feed your spirit and summon wonderful people to your table. You’ll want to make sure your stew is made from the freshest, finest ingredients and that it has been simmered and seasoned with care. Do this, and you will be proud to share your creative vision – your authority – with others.”

Tammy ends her post with Krissy Downing’s artist statement, which, I have to admit, is packed with energy and personality, even as it stands out as quirky and self-defined. No one is going to mistake Krissy’s statement for anyone else’s!

How to Be an Innovator, Part 16: Identify a Need
Part of a wonderful ongoing series on innovation by Dee Wilcox at Creative Perch blog, this episode covers one of the most important facets of innovation—discovering a problem and figuring out how to solve it in a new way.

Dee writes,

“All of today’s great innovations answer a need. The light bulb provides more efficient and reliable light; the telephone provided faster, more efficient, clearer communication; the hybrid car attempts to answer the need for transportation and energy savings…. The individuals who created these products and services saw a need in the world around them, developed a concept, and partnered with a team to make it happen…

There are always needs. The beauty of creativity is that it can provide an answer to these needs and begin the process of innovation.”

The entire How to Be an Innovator series is worth checking out, especially part 15, Be an Idea Champion. I like the fact that Dee is breaking the innovation process (which can seem overwhelming and not connected to individual effort at times) into bite-sized pieces, and connecting it to the creative process, which is often seen as self-expressive and not as problem- or solution-focused.

Bonus Links!

10 Weird Ways to Distribute Music
From’s Epicenter section. Innovative ways (even if some are really retro) to get music to the masses today.

12 icebreakers to kick-start your brainstorm
A dozen ways to warm-up a brainstorming group, provided by the good folks at the creativity-centric website CRINID.



  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing Krissy’s work and my blog with your readers!

  2. Thanks for your feedback on my “How to Be an Innovator” series! I’m glad you’re enjoying it and that it’s beneficial to you. This week’s post is a little late – should be up soon. 😀

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