Will Burns

Unleash Creativity Blog

Scientific studies that help us unleash our most human attribute: creativity.

New Study Shows Existing Art Can Power New Creativity

Photo by  Ciprian Boiciuc  on  Unsplash

A fascinating new study suggests that looking at, contemplating and enjoying art prior to performing a creative exercise can actually improve the results of that exercise. It can be art in the form of paintings or poetry. 

The studies.

Donghwy An and Nara Youn of South Korea's Hongik University designed two studies to get at the influence of artistsic creations on creativity. In one, they recruited 94 college students and - one at a time - asked them to peruse several Vincent van Gogh paintings over three minutes. They were told that the researchers wanted their opinions on the paintings (a white lie). Immediately following, the subjects were asked to perform a creativity test. A control group simply reviewed photographs of landscapes similar in construct to van Goph's paintings.

In the second study, 79 students were asked to read and then consider the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind," while a control group simply wrote about their typical daily lives. As above, both groups were asked to perform a creativity test immediately following.

In both cases, the groups who contemplated the creations - be they paintings or poetry - scored significantly better than the control groups on the respective creativity tests. According to the researchers,

"Appreciating art induces inspiration, which in turn facilitates performance on creative tasks."


The researchers suggest that providing well placed art publicly in businesses or even developing art-appreciation workshops could yield an increase in creativity with employees. As the researchers put it,

"We suggest that firms should employ more art-related creativity training programs to increase their employees' creative problem-solving abilities, especially in the context of new product development."

But something else occurred to me. I have been in the advertising business for decades and, in my experience, the most creative people in advertising always have really interesting art on their walls. Might be a print or an original oil painting or might be something they made themselves. But it's always cool and thought provoking.

Could it be that creative people instinctively know that surrounding themselves with creations will inspire their own creativity? I bet so.

It's as if witnessing creativity in artistic form somehow fills our own creative tanks. To me, this changes the role of art in our society. It's not about appreciation and "isn't that nice," but it's about feeding and nurturing future creativity.

I knew art could be powerful, but I didn't know it could power our creativity.

Sign up for my monthly newsletter below and get a new creativity tip with each issue.

Will BurnscreativityComment