Tuesday, September 12, 2006


As I tend to do every now and again, I've been pondering my tendency to wander from project to project, technique to technique, experiment to experiment. As I read blogs and see art produced by folks who have honed in on What They Do Best and who have the time and focus to actually work in a straight-ish line, I tend to get discouraged about my own rambling.

But recently I picked up the lastest issue of Teesha Moore's fun 'zine "Art and Life," and found a reference to an article on creativity that intrigued (and encouraged) me. So, I went and looked it up, and was intrigued.

The article is by Daniel Pink in an online issue of Wired Magazine, called "What Kind of Genius Are You?" In it, Pink discusses a theory developed by economist David Galenson that there are two types of creative people. The first, "the conceptual innovator," flashes out with genius work early in life. The conceptualists (under his theory) are dramatic and quick, and figure out in advance what they are doing and where they are going creativity-wise. The idea is the thing, not so much the execution. The definitive aspect of a conceptualist is certainty: they know what they want and they know when they have created it. They have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, specific goals. Into this category Galenson puts F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Orson Welles.

In contrast, the second type of creative person, the "experimental innovator," goes through years of trial and error before doing important work in his/her later years. Their work is usually not conceived fully in advance. They figure things out as they go along, and never really know when their work is finished. In this category, Galenson lists Cezanne, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Interestingly, Galenson reports (in his analysis of artists based on this theory) that conceptualists always sign their work, while experimentalists rarely do.

Intriguing, yes? Maybe it's just me, but it makes me feel better about all my wanderings.


  1. Anonymous5:33 AM

    thanks for the links today. I really enjoyed that and yes, I feel better, too.

  2. Thanks, I've always wondered about myself. Why I work the way I do. It's been a puzzle, now I have the missing pieces

  3. Oh, wow! That is fascinating. I would definitely fall in the latter category. Am I finished? Never!

  4. I am really glad to read this. I'm definately in the second group if I'm in a creative group at all. (sometimes I even question this). Thanks.

  5. Thank you for this link. I thoroughly enjoyed learning there is hope for me yet. I didn't come to quilting or my passion for sewing until 4 years ago at age 54. I get frustrated sometimes, thinking I'll never develop real proficiency before I lose my physical and mental faculties! Consequently I feel very driven, which gets in the way of enjoyment sometimes. I too feel better now.

    PS I enjoy your blog.