Posted by: Liz Massey | September 22, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for September 22, 2009


Photo courtesy of SXC.

The Creative Person’s Hierarchy of Needs

This is a delightful post by Cynthia Morris of She asserts that in addition to the traditional hierarchy of needs posited by psychologist Abraham Maslow, creative persons have other needs that must be satisfied in order to life a fully productive life.

“Creative people, those who are making things – books, businesses, design, art – have additional needs. Recognizing these needs and making sure they are met are essential to applied creativity.

“When we don’t acknowledge our needs, we’re allowing life to dictate our experience. Knowing your needs and being willing to take action to make sure they are met will make the already challenging work of creating much easier.”

Morris says that creative people have the following needs:

Need for creative space

Need for creative peers

Need for creative fuel

Need for imaginative space

Need for the body to be expressed

Need for your creative edge

Need for ample amounts of faith and belief

Need to have our work responded to

Need for certainty

Need for time

One of my favorites from this list is the one concerning the need for a “creative edge.” Morris explains this need as,

“Solving problems, pushing boundaries, developing something new is at the heart of the creative process. Rather than despair about how difficult it is to write a really good article, embrace the challenge of your craft. While you’re at it, embrace the challenge of your creative industry. For instance, publishing a book traditionally seems nearly impossible these days. Take that challenge on by either figuring out the publishing game or self-publishing. Relish the creative edge – you need it.”

The post is a great article and jives nicely with my Creative Person’s Bill of Rights. A large part of maintaining creative momentum relates to taking care of oneself, and meeting our basic needs as artists is a large part of that.

POKE! exhibit spotlights art made with social media

This article from the Houston Chronicle focuses on a September 2009 show at the FotoFest Gallery in Houston that uses social media as its pretext.

Curated by Jennifer Ward, FotoFest’s exhibitions coordinator, “POKE! Artists and Social Media” brings together photographic, video- and Web-based work by eight artists who use — and in some cases re-enact — material from many of the popular sites that define so much of 21st-century life.

Ward’s inspiration came “from seeing how more and more organizations and politicians, particularly Obama, were using social media to drive their message to the public or to reach new audiences, and then just using social media myself — being a part of Facebook,” she said in the Chronicle article.

Some of the exhibit’s artists used social media in a light way (such as Lee Walton of Greensboro, N.C. whose video shorts are reenactments of his friends’ and relatives’ Facebook status updates, no matter how silly or banal), but others take on heavier fare. As reporter Douglas Britt notes,

“The show’s most affecting, often heartbreaking work is a pair of videos by David Oresick, who excerpts and edits together YouTube footage posted by U.S. soldiers during and after their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. You see soldiers behaving both bravely and badly, in both relaxed and hair-raising moments … Then you see them after they’ve returned home, surprising loved ones, going on drunken rampages and — in an infuriating, saddening scene — jumping to their feet in groggy fright as a wife, girlfriend or sister screams to startle them awake in a foolish prank. It’s all there in footage the soldiers have posted themselves.”

This story is a good example of how artists are using social media and how they are deepening the conversation about its role both as a communication tool and a shaper of communication.

See, feel and hear great ideas: Engaging your modalities in the workplace

Gary Bertwhistle writing on the Innovation Tools blog, makes a brilliant (I think) assertion about the best way for people to develop creative ideas by leveraging whichever learning modality (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic) is their strongest.

Here’s how Bertwhistle lays out his thesis:

“I think there is a relationship between finding great ideas and your learning modalities. Here’s how it might work: If you’re a visual person, then in order to unlock your great ideas, you need to see things. You need to be out and about with color, movement, pictures…

“Auditory people will need to have noise, conversation and even in some cases, silence around them, to be able to produce good ideas…

“Kinesthetic people will think best when their hands are engaged and doing something. ie playing with a toy, clicking a pen, being able to play with a scale model or prototype, or page through a magazine.

“What are the implications of this idea? When you run brainstorming sessions, you should use color, movement, interaction, conversation and combine all the modalities together so as to ensure that everybody in the room is engaged with their particular style.”

I would add to this very intelligent assessment that most of us have a secondary modality that we utilize at least part of the time, and mixing all the modalities when generating ideas may also spark some excellent cross-pollination or interplay, as we bounce back and forth between our strongest and second-strongest modality. Heck, we might even pick something up from switching back and forth between our strongest and our weakest modality.

Bonus Links!!

50 Ways to Foster a Sustainable Culture of Innovation

The Heart of Innovation blog authors discuss ways to close the gap between theory and knowledge in terms of developing an innovation-centric work culture.

Creative Deconstruction: Why Dell’s Designers Tear Apart Their Own Computers

Ken Musgrave writing for Fast Company. “Most of a designer’s time is focused on the pursuit of improvement at the moment of creation–the birth of a product’s lifecycle. But it is often important to look at the other end of the lifecycle–the deconstruction of the very products that they create.”



  1. Phew. Thought I was just being “needy”, but how wonderful to see that the list of needs documented by Cynthia Morris. I knew I wasn’t alone, but seeing it in print is validating. Thanks.

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