Guest Post: Cultivate Your Creative Skills

The-three-levels-of-creativity - colored

By Laura Young

Many of my earliest memories are of art. My family was into museums, botanical gardens, and classical concerts, so I started making art very early. Through grade and high school I enjoyed drawing and painting, playing the piano, and acting/comedy improv, but I always saw the visual and performing arts as a separate practice from my academics. Art was just something I did for myself, because it was fun and pleasing, and I didn’t think much beyond that.

When I applied to college, I didn’t want to apply to art school because I liked many subjects. At the nudging of a family member, however, I applied to UCLA’s art department, and to my great surprise, I was admitted. I had turned in a portfolio but my academics did not meet the average profile of campus, so their decision confused me. More than anything else, I didn’t know what I was good at. I had plenty of things that I liked to do, but I wasn’t an expert at anything, so I wondered what UCLA had seen.

The summer before college, however, the luckiest thing happened to me: I got an internship at Disney, with a woman named Peggy van Pelt. Peggy was an executive consultant at the company, and her expertise focused on creative people: how to understand them in order to ensure their happiness, productivity, and positive development. Peggy was the first person to tell me that while I was making art, I was also cultivating many powerful creative skills.

Now that I work with artistic students in the college application process, I often hear them worry that an arts degree isn’t “sensible”. I couldn’t disagree more! Here is a short list of what artists are good at:

– Problem solving – being able to approach an issue and come up with many solutions
– Working alone with minimal supervision
– Working collaboratively
– Working effectively and in a disciplined manner
– Multitasking
– Delivering articulate critique
– Accepting critique and utilizing feedback positively
– Being able to consider issues in the long run as well as in detail

Those of us in the arts have been listening with some amusement to the national discussion on how to develop leaders for the 21st century. Critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity… artists are already fantastic at this. Of course, anyone could learn these important skills in any major, but for creative students, an arts degree program can be the best, most appropriate context to better identify and interact with the world.

So. My message to you is the same one I got from Peggy: you are already so good at so many things.  Go have fun figuring out how to implement your many talents! We’re waiting for you.

 

Laura Young is the Director of Enrollment Management at UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture. She can be reached at laura.miwha.young@gmail.com, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/lauramyoung/.

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Function, Meet Design

Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman's concept for an everyday city bike of the future

Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman’s concept for an everyday city bike of the future

I’ve been intrigued by Industrial Design for a long time.  In college, the ID students worked directly below those of us in the textile studio, so I caught numerous peeks into their world.  Very cool: applying your passion for design to everyday products – whether they’re kitchen gadgets, office supplies or automobiles – and making life a bit better in the process.  This is not just art for art’s sake; it’s logical, practical, tangible, and fun!  Integrating art into the creation of a product.

Today, the terms industrial design and product design are often used interchangeably.  Either way, study of the subject provides the opportunity to integrate mechanical and technological interests with art and design to solve real-world problems.

Top notch industrial and product design programs exist at many colleges across the country including Carnegie Melon University, Cleveland Institute of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and College for Creative Studies.  Each focuses on teaching critical thinking skills and learning to solve complex problems through collaboration and the application of interdisciplinary methodologies.   Cultural and economic impacts are included as well, as are the study of ergonomics, marketing and manufacturing.  Through lectures and hands-on projects you’ll learn how things are built, and incorporate functional design into the building process.

You won’t find yourself lacking for career options if ID is in your future. Stetson Hats, Slinky, or Weber Grills are one route, all designed and made in the United States. They’re also all highlighted in the April 22nd cover story article of Time magazine, which claims “Made in the USA is making a comeback.”  The impact that has on product and industrial designers is exponential, growing the marketplace for intelligent, well-designed products.  For other career routes consider furniture design, medical equipment design, shoe design, materials and color consulting, or industrial design education.

A multitude of resources exist for burgeoning and current ID’ers.  My favorite is Core77.  Spend some time there, then pick a school and you may be on your way to creating or improving some cool gadgets for mankind.

And by the way, thanks!

 

I hope that after reading my blog you’ll leave a comment by letting me know what you’re interested in, and what programs you’ve found.

Photo credit: Industrialdesignserved.com

Where Art and Science Meet

STEAM graphic.indd

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the top institutions in the country to study art and design.  Saying the school is a leader is an understatement.

One of the institution’s more recent efforts has been to focus overdue attention on the arts as part of a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) dedicated education; turning STEM into STEAM. Many don’t realize the critical role art and design play in successfully integrating STEM into mainstream society.  Where innovation is concerned, it’s a symbiotic relationship.  Need an example? Think Steve Jobs and Apple.

Will Novosedlik is a passionate brand management consultant in Canada who recently wrote about the critical intersection where art and design collide with math, science and technology.  This collision is taking place on numerous campuses across the globe.  Read his blog, Post-Industrial Art School, and you’ll realize this collision is happening on art school campuses like RISD and Pratt, but also at less traditional and perhaps unexpected locales as well – like MIT.

What does it mean for you?

Creativity and innovation will play an increasingly essential role in our future.  If your interest is in studying art and design there are a lot of potential career paths you could walk, more than you might initially consider. There are also more places to obtain an art education than you might initially imagine.  So keep your eyes and your mind open.  If you’re passion lies at the heart of design and technology then look for schools that provide the opportunity to mesh the two.  That may be at a traditional art school – or maybe not.  If your top choice school isn’t shouting about an integrated arts – science program that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Don’t be shy; tell them about your interests and ask what type of collaboration is already in place or how open they are to new ventures.  Who knows?  You may help create a new opportunity for you and other interested students.