Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

First Trade Show? - Practical Creativity


#1
This place being my first large exposure to "artists" (while I work
in a world of engineers), started me wondering if it was a rare mix
for a person to possess both artistic creativity and practical
creativity. 

As a writer who has spent 10 years writing about jewelry and the
wife of a computer engineer, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in both
worlds myself. I think the mistake most people make is in thinking
engineering isn’t a creative pursuit. If engineers aren’t creative,
how did we come to be so dependent on the amazing inventions of the
last couple of decades? The engineers came up with computers, cell
phones, digital TV (the technology may be more creative than the
programming!), the Internet, etc. And that’s just the technology we
see every day. Tech companies are usually born of a couple engineers
who come up with a new idea, and then find a way to overcome the
technical challenges to make it a reality. (Sounds a bit like what we
do, eh?) In fact, I usually refer to engineers as “creative
professionals” in a category with writers, artists, graphic designs,
architects, etc. The tools they use and the knowledge they need to
accomplish their goals may be different, but the creativity element
is the same.

In my experience with both the art world and the engineering world,
the main difference bewteen “practical creativity” and “artistic
creativity” tends to be less an issue of creativity and more a kind
of down-to-earth acceptance of the fact that if you’re going to make
a living being creative, you’re going to have to make something that
at least some segment of the population is willing to pay for. The
person with solely “artistic creativity” finds this constricting, and
demands the world accept their vision. Sometimes it works: more often
it doesn’t. The person with “practical creativity” views this as a
challenge, and seeks ways to express their vision within the
limitations imposed by the world (i.e., the need to produce a
marketable product.)

The art world seems to have more of a tendency to want to reject the
"practical creativity" outlook: look at the scorn heaped on those
who have “sold out” and made “commercial” art. You just don’t see
that happen in the engineering world – those who have made
"commercial" products become billionaires, and everyone else wants to
be like them. (Of course, there are engineers who are true to their
vision of creating products no one wants or needs. Now that the
Internet bubble has burst, though, there aren’t many people swooning
over them!)

One final note: while I find engineers to be very creative people, I
do find people talented in the engineering field tend to think
differently from writers, artists, and those in traditional art
fields. My husband thinks in the abstract in ways that just
bewilder me. He can do algebra problems in his head, while I have a
hard time doing simple addition. But I’m the one who navigates when
we drive somewhere together: I think visually, and can almost always
find my way back to a place I’ve been. He nearly got lost driving to
my mother’s house (after 11 years of marriage to me!) because the
town had installed a new traffic light. Turns out he’d been turning
right at the third light for more than a decade… and he didn’t
realize the count had changed!

Viva la difference!
Suzanne
Suzanne Wade
Writer/Editor
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255
@Suzanne_Wade1
http://www.rswade.net


#2
  One final note: while I find engineers to be very creative
people, I do find people talented in the engineering field tend to
think differently from writers, artists, and those in traditional
art fields. 

This paragraph from Suzanne’s very perceptive observation reminds me
of the experience a young relative had when she first started
college. She had been accepted at Cooper Union…a New York
college specializing in fine art, architecture and engineering.
The welcoming letter sent by the college didn’t specify where the
arts students and the engineering students were to assemble.for
orientation…only that they were to form two separate groups. She
was worried that she wouldn’t find the right group and would end up
in the wrong place. As it turned out, her fears were needless.
She said that as she approached the building she saw two distinct
groups of students, and she knew right away where she belonged. The
engineering students had assembled in a perfectly straight double
line, while the art students were being free spirits. Dee


#3
 This place being my first large exposure to "artists" (while I
work in a world of engineers), started me wondering if it was a
rare mix for a person to possess both artistic creativity and
practical creativity."***** 

I couldn’t find the original source even though I looked in the
archives under the subject heading. I wanted to comment anyway also.
I don’t think it’s a rare mix at all for those people who are
jewelry artists/goldsmiths/metal smiths. I tried to teach wax work
and fabrication briefly to a very talented you artist who painted.
She was completely frustrated and decided it wasn’t for her. She
wanted to keep her art it the sort of dream realm that she expresses
in painting but doesn’t excel in more mechanical hands-on practical
work. The few jewelry makers I’ve known have also been very good at
problem solving and working with practical things. So I think that
the combination of artistic creativity/practical creativity is found
in inventors, architects, jewelry makers… Here’s where other
Orchidians could jump in. What previous careers, interests and
talents show you possess artistic and practical creativity? When
something breaks at my house I can’t wait to jump in to try to fix
it whether it’s a ceiling fan, toilet, table leg, disposal, heater
fan etc. It’s problem solving. Coming up with a design I’ve dreamed
up and trying to figure out how to make it is problem solving,
artistic and practical.Annette


#4

Thank you Suzanne, for your wonderful, concise, thoughts on the
differences in the different types of creativity that you explained.
The way in which you have expressed your ideas is another example of
creativity. The differences are what makes for such an interesting
mix. You should get your husband one of those auto navigations
systems for the times that he has to drive without you.

Keep writing,
Joel
Joel Schwalb
@Joel_Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#5

Oh yes Annette - I’m with you there. I’m a major problem
solver/fixer of things in the house - and I adore tools. Was a math
major in college, worked as a financial planner, but played the piano
and painted for years, as well as sewing. Grew up with a Dad who
constantly “invented” things including our first and original
electric lawnmower (mounted a table fan blade on a base with rubber
wheels, sharpened the blade and plugged it in. Worked like a charm -
of course no safety features but in 1940 who worried about safety
anyway?

I definitely think practical, problem solving, visual people are
often also artistic and creative. Problem solving is a creative
activity in and of itself. Architects are definitely creative and
artistic (and problem solvers of major magnitude). I personally
think creativity is often borne out of necessity to explain or
communicate something in a very visual and physical way (cave art
comes to mind).

My very first foray into jewelry making was soaking china berries
until they were soft and stringing them into a long necklace with
flowers woven in between.

Kay


#6
    In my experience with both the art world and the engineering
world, the main difference bewteen "practical creativity"  and 
"artistic creativity" tends to be less an issue of creativity and
more a kind of down-to-earth acceptance of the fact that if you're
going to make a living being creative, you're going to have to make
something that at least some segment of the population is willing
to pay for. The person with solely "artistic creativity" finds this
constricting, and demands the world accept their vision. Sometimes
it works: more often it doesn't. The person with "practical
creativity" views this as a challenge, and seeks ways to express
their vision within the limitations imposed by the world (i.e., the
need to produce a marketable product.) 

Hi Suzanne, long time. I LOVE what you said but I would only refine
your observation a little to include the premise that (in general) if
no one can relate to (i.e. pay for) one’s “art”…then it’s probably
more aptly called “therapy” and (usually) has no place in either the
practical or artistic world. Not that one shouldn’t indulge in the
activity if it makes one feel good and doesn’t hurt anybody, but my
thought is that one of the main ingredients of ‘true art’ (my
emphesis) is communication (with another being). If one only
communicates with oneself, then it is self-exploration, therapy,
meditation or some other thing besides art. Now of course there are
exceptions and expansions and such, (not to deny the gray areas and
overlaps.)

One of my favorite topics (and you may remember, I’ve written about
this in AJM) is my perception of the schism between “art” (as
concept) and “craft” (as process) and the politics of the semantics
therein. At least locally, (in my internship program with the
University of Oregon) we have the acedemic persuit of the visual and
emotional art of jewelry manifest in such a way that student
practitioners seem to go out of their way to NOT produce anything
visual or emotionally reaching…and they wonder why I have them
making bezel after bezel in my shop…

Other thoughts??

— Gary Dawson
—Goldworks Jewelry Art Studio
—Quality & Integrity…Always


#7

My dad is a mechanical engineer. In his career, he designed
aircraft engines and fuel cells for use by NASA. In retirement, he
builds railroads both model and real. Lots of practicality, but
always had a lack of true appreciation for artistry. His definition
of a good painting is a photographic quality image. Why not just
take the dang picture? My mom, on the other hand, was an art teacher
for over 20 years. She mostly paints now, but has also been involved
in jewelry, weaving and papermaking over the years, so she is well
versed in both 2D and 3D. The result for me has been a wonderful
combination of artistic creativity and practical construction.
Sadly, her 2D abilities never really got passed down to me. I can
work in 3D just fine, but I really have trouble rendering on paper.
I have always seen things in my mind as 3D objects and just carve or
fabricate from there. The engineering chimes in with my approach to
actual construction, aimed at durability. I don’t tend toward
delicate most of the time, and I am always trying to consider
material properties as well as geometry when I am building something.
Anyone else care to share their inherited legacies? Jim in cloudy NC,
where winter is threatening a short return.


#8

To me there is meditative vision and “practical vision”. Meditative
vision is encompassed by things like original designs and models that
come out when we use our practiced powers to come up with something
new or different, pleasing or beautiful to ourself, not taking the
world into consideration in the process. It may take several models
or drawings with changes to each, to reach a state of what pleases.
Also, very often, each of these attempts can be totally beautiful
themselves and/or lead to new design ideas. Sometimes there is a
desired result we are looking for, sometimes it is done, ad lib
style, and it is finished when you are satisfied, but again,
usually leads into an abyss of new takeoffs on the piece.This
meditative well never runs dry, it is forever new and exciting.
Practical vision, to me is all the ways we try to make money with, or
affect the world(repair, working from prints, duplication). Mixing
the two can also lead to serious creations. Since I have narry an
interest in pandering to other beings’ traditional, media brainwashed
desires, whether it be customers sans couth, show judges with
attitude and no talent, etc., when i have to I find it helpful to
enlist worldly sizes, shapes, weights as rough outs for my starting
points. Then I fly. dp


#9

Hi Suzanne, long time. I LOVE what you said but I would only refine
your observation a little to include the premise that (in general) if
no one can relate to (i.e. pay for) one’s “art”…then it’s probably
more aptly called “therapy” and (usually) has no place in either the
practical or artistic world. Not that one shouldn’t indulge in the
activity if it makes one feel good and doesn’t hurt anybody, but my
thought is that one of the main ingredients of ‘true art’ (my
emphasis) is communication (with another being). If one only
communicates with oneself, then it is self-exploration, therapy,
meditation or some other thing besides art. Now of course there are
exceptions and expansions and such, (not to deny the gray areas and
overlaps.) One of my favorite topics (and you may remember, I’ve
written about this in AJM) is my perception of the schism between
"art" (as concept) and “craft” (as process) and the politics of the
semantics therein. At least locally, (in my internship program with
the University of Oregon) we have the academic pursuit of the visual
and emotional art of jewelry manifest in such a way that student
practitioners seem to go out of their way to NOT produce anything
visual or emotionally reaching…and they wonder why I have them
making bezel after bezel in my shop… Other thoughts?? > — Gary
Dawson —Goldworks Jewelry Art Studio —Quality & Integrity…Always


#10

Gary, i just jotted a few observations that might help your class
atmosphere. This reply comes from your post on the “First Trade
Show” thread.

    no one can relate to (i.e. pay for) one's "art" 

I don’t see how relating to someone’s art is definitively synonymous
with paying for it. If you are talking about buying/jewelry at craft
shows or retail, you should know that many different types of
jewelry are sold in this world, from great designs produced like
junk to the highest quality stones and metals designed poorly.
“Original” artists don’t consider the payment, when they create.

 ...then it's probably more aptly called "therapy" and (usually)
has no place in either the practical or artistic world. 

All great artists create"original" artwork from an art therapy
framework, unless they are designing “solely” for the money. If you
don’t believe me, ask some people that you know, that create what you
might call, ‘true’ art.

    "communication (with another being)."  If one communicates with
oneself, then it is self-exploration, therapy, meditation 

gary, I think that you have it reversed; putting the “self” into the
creation,this is true art, the communication comes after another
being experiences it.

     NOT produce anything visual or emotionally reaching...and
they wonder why I have them making bezel after bezel in my shop...
Other thoughts?? 

Yes, institute an art therapy framework, and you will see some
sensitive, reaching ideas and designs, but of course they must keep
up their technique calistenics. dp


#11
    I would only refine your observation a little to include the
premise that (in general) if no one can relate to (i.e. pay for)
one's "art"...then it's probably more aptly called "therapy" and
(usually) has no place in either the practical or artistic world. 

Gary, I have to disagree! Your premise neglects that fact that a
large portion of today’s great art was unsellable during the life of
the artist, whose work was so far ahead of its time that it took the
buying public years to see its value.

Donna