I’ve ask myself this question many times. Is creativity in my genes? To be specific I mean is the ability to create art in any type of media. Cause when I look at my parents, grandparents and sisters I am hard pressed to think so. Or better, why me? Don’t get me wrong I live to make imagery, to execute concepts, to come up with stories and characters that have never existed before. But, I wonder if it would be an easier life to love selling whether it’s insurance, cars or some kind of widget. It’s certainly a way to make more money on average if money is all that important to you. I must admit it is somewhat important to me but it isn’t the end all by any means. But I diverge.
I spent some time looking on the internet to see if I could get my question answered and I came to an article by Andrea Kuszewski. Here are a few excerpts that were enlightening.
The Essential Psychopathology Of Creativity
By Andrea Kuszewski | September 20th 2010
Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive
If we could identify a gene for creativity, let’s call it the “creativity gene”, you would be hard pressed to find very many people who would consider it a “negative gene” or a hazard to possess or carry. But what if, purely hypothetically, we could identify a gene for Schizophrenia? Or Bipolar Disorder? Or Depressive Disorder? Or ADHD? Would you select for those traits if you could genetically engineer your offspring at will? If you wanted to give birth to a creative child, the answer should be yes.
The very traits that make someone creative, passionate, and likely to achieve a high degree of success in their domain, are the same traits that define psychological disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and ADHD. So what is the difference between creativity and psychopathology? Where do we draw the line between functional excess of extreme traits and the point at which they define a psychological disorder? Is there a discriminating characteristic that separates these two groups? Yes, there is, and it’s called cognitive control, or high executive function.
Ok so slow down…I call this controlled chaos. I’ve always thought of my own thinking and work as that. Jut saying…
An article in the NY Times titled, “Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs”, described individuals that were unnaturally creative, passionate, energetic, charismatic, and those most sought-after by venture capitalists as “hypomanic”. They go on to describe how these individuals, while successful and gifted at what they do, meet the criteria in the DSM as suffering from Hypomanic Episodes (one of the defining features of Bipolar Disorder). From the DSM:
DSM IV Criteria for Hypomanic Episode:
A) Distinct period of persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting throughout at least 4 days that is clearly different from the usual nondepressed mood.
B) During the period of mood disturbance, three (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted (four if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree:
Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
Decreased need for sleep (e.g. feels rested after only 3 hours of sleep)
More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
Distractibility (i.e., attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli)
Increase in goal-directed activity (at work, at school, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g. engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments) Sound familiar?
C) The episode is associated with an unequivocal change in functioning that is uncharacteristic of the person when not symptomatic.
D) The disturbance in mood and the change in functioning are observable by others.
E) The mood disturbance not severe enough to cause marked impairment in social or occupational functioning, or to necessitate hospitalization, and there are no psychotic features.
F) The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication or other treatment) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism)
Now, I don’t know how many of you creative-types out there began to panic when you started reading this list of defining criteria, but I know I did. In fact, of all the creative people I know in various fields of work and study (and I know a lot), I don’t know too many who don’t meet these criteria. It’s called being In The Zone, or Flow, as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is usually that happy-productive-place that we all love to be in, and don’t seem to get enough of. However, according to the DSM criteria, it appears if you are too intensely creative, you might very well be suffering from Hypomanic Episodes.
The Essential Truth of Creativity
The truth is, in order to be truly exceptional at something creative in nature, whatever domain it may be, you need to have those extreme traits that get you labeled by the DSM as meeting the criteria for some kind of a personality disorder. However (and this is the catch), in order to have those extreme, intense traits and not suffer from a disorder, you also need to have some sort of regulatory mechanism that helps to control those traits.
The psychologist interviewed for the Times article, John Gartner, and author of the book The Hypomanic Edge, essentially describes this type of excessively-creative-yet somehow-able-to-function-normally individual. He says that the “attributes that make a good entrepreneur are common in certain manias, but are harnessed in ways that are hugely productive.” That harnessing, or cognitive control, is the one thing that really separates extreme, yet functional traits from dysfunction and psychopathology.
I’m going to stop here and let those of you who want to read more click on the link. Look, no one ever said being creative was an easy way to live life. But a creative life well lived and explored is an adventure that can be satisfying and exciting. And if you manage to become successful at it highly rewarding monetarily. The bottom line is you are who you are so don’t fight it, enjoy the ride!
Over the last year I’ve created a few company characters or icons. Here are a few examples. More are coming thru the pipeline as people discover this is an expertise of mine. It’s always a perfect storm situation when you can help a client expand their reach and do something you love and are good at.Think Geico Gecko and how that character has become part of the fabric of our lives beyond what it symbolizes. I’ll cover this area more in the next “Illustrator” newsletter coming out on Monday.
This article could be a very valuable piece of information to you if you use or want to use archived photography. I’m wondering if this will have a ripple effect on the usage of photos and art found on the net. For me it’s another tool that will expand an artist’s capabilities and push the trailblazers to keep ahead of the “copyists”.
A little while back my design firm BTS Communications was assigned with creating a brand identity for an energy company that operates solely in Pennsylvania. We were flown to their corporate headquarters to talk with the leaders of their organization. WE were school in every aspect of the company and by their own admissions their product was no different from any other energy company in the area….they were all selling electrical power. The only difference was a fluctuation in price and length of contract commitment.
As I listened to the COO talk my eyes wandered to the wall behind him where a series of older ads were hanging. Each ad featured an Aardvark character. “What are those?” I asked. The owner and the COO instantly perked up. “That was a campaign for our telecommunications company.We love that Aardvark!” After a few more questions an idea started to percolate in my head about what could differentiate their energy company from the rest.
The next week or so I started playing around with the idea of a robot who spoke about energy and advised customers how to utilize energy and why our energy company was the one to use. I envisioned this robot to be playful, personable yet extremely smart and educated. Members of our staff chimed in that he should be a superhero who could help customers cut their budget and maintain energy efficiency. Our copywriters started to generate scripts for online spots while I designed a few version of our robot. Within days two robots emerged, Spark, a 3d version with tubing and body parts that resembled a stylized car and Plug a flatter more traditional style robot of the 60′s with simple dials and gizmos on his body. Admittedly these were not NASA type robotics but they were perfect for what we needed.
Here are both in the initial stage of their development. End Part One
Love this article written by Mark Susnow
Left is Frank Sinatra “The King of Charisma” artwork by Lon Levin
I was 27. I had just passed the bar and was excited about making my first court appearance. It was a whole new world. I was sitting and observing, waiting for my case to be called. I was watching the “pros.” Molly Pinkston was one of them. She walked to the podium with the help of a cane. She was in her sixties, with red hair and a blue hat that accentuated her look. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was the way she said it, with her unique phrasing and cadence, that had an effect on me even to this day.
It was in those days that the seeds were planted. There are some people that have it- that ineffable quality often referred to as charisma.
Charisma can be cultivated and the literature supports this belief. Psychology Today and other literature breaks down many of the qualities that make someone charismatic: confidence, exuberance, and optimism, as well as a ready smile, expressive body language, and a friendly and passionate voice.
In many ways that is what Molly personified. She had a unique style and self confidence -probably had it most of her life. Her dress and manner of speaking definitely accentuated her presence.
We all know others who naturally exude this quality. They walk into a room and you notice them. They begin to speak and you listen. Others exude that confidence and energy in the way they move. But in Molly’s case, even though she was not able to move gracefully, she had “the it” factor. Actors, some better than others, have been trained to create this every time they take the stage. Their costumes and dress add to their mystique. In our own lives, at times we play roles with the appurtenant customs and costumes.
When you have a purpose for doing something, there is an inner flame that won’t burn out. It’s contagious. There is an exuberance and passion that can’t be reproduced in any other way. When I was a young lawyer it was natural for me to be passionate about the cause that I was an advocate for. With that passion it’s much easier to arouse strong emotions and feelings in others and move them into action.
Charisma is a form of energy, in some cases magnetism. There are some people that are just plain charismatic no matter what they do. But let’s talk about what we can do to create it in our lives. When that energy and magnetism occurs naturally, it shows up as presence. From my own journey of discovery this is what I know so far.
Increase your energy by exercising and breathing fully. Very few of us exercise enough or take the time to breath fully. When you breath deeply, it slows you down. Throughout the years, I have developed a practice that whenever I feel stressful, I come back to focusing on my breath.
Have a discipline like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi, that creates prana or chi which is another name for life force. These practices, and there are many others, cultivate internal energy which essentially is our life force. Running, cycling and dancing also have the effect of elevating our energy levels.
Diet is huge. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They contain a lot of water which is what our body needs. And yes plenty of good water keeps us hydrated and energized.
Find something that you are passionate about, which will transfer to other areas of your life. It is a blessing to have a passion. But there are times in our lives when we won’t have a focus to get excited about. What’s encouraging is that as we cultivate more presence, we become passionate about life and bring that enthusiasm and passion to whatever we do. We might not even be aware of it ourselves, but others do.
Develop a connection with a higher power. As that connection deepens, you feel guided and you can say good-bye to loneliness. You can look forward to the land of the unknown with confidence that it is full of opportunity and adventure. You are ready to embrace the great mystery of life’s unfoldment.
But it takes commitment and determination and so often we easily get side tracked. We stop short and don’t get to experience the essence of what we really want which is deeper connection with a higher power and with others.
We resist being in the moment. Our mind finds a way to distract us from whatever we are doing. Overcoming resistance is one of the biggest challenges that we all face. It’s that duality that we all experience. We are physically present at a particular place-doing something-yet at the same time, our mind is some other place, thinking about something else. And with all of the latest technology, there are even more distractions that get in the way of our being fully present.
That’s what I’m working on-being totally present- that’s what charisma is all about. People who we perceive as charismatic have that innate ability to be fully present in their process. It’s a challenge worthy of our best effort.