Eight Years of Thinking Creatively

December 21, 2010

Introduction by Wendy Liscow, Program Officer

In both my professional and personal lives, I am surrounded by creative people every day, and I know that creativity is what will differentiate individuals, corporations, educators and even countries in the future. It is key to generating new ideas and to solving problems—old and new. We need more creative thinkers and people whose disciplines are creatively-based to inspire us and teach us all.

Today’s guest blog post is by Rose Gonnella , who is a professor at the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University and one of the masterminds behind an annual Creativity convening that inspires students and practitioners to discover pathways to new ideas and spark their creative engines.

Thinking Creatively 8 logo

April 7 – 9, 2011 / KEAN UNIVERSITY

Intersections: design, entertainment, technology, commerce, culture

The eighth Thinking Creatively conference is three days of events, presentations, interaction, workshops, networking, and experiences. Listen, learn, exchange ideas, get creatively nourished, be inspired!

Organized by: Kean University: Robert Busch School of Design  (Interactive Advertising and Branding, Graphic and Interactive Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design), College of Visual and Performing Arts / Department of Theatre, the Department of Computer Science, the College of Business / Marketing and Management, and with the Art Directors Club of New Jersey, and the American Society of Interior Designers

By Rose Gonnella

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Creativity is an interaction happening through connections and at a myriad of intersections—of ideas, people, events, and experiences.

James Burke has made a lifetime of research exploring how connections led to creativity.

We know connections work to enrich creativity.

At the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University, we work hard to make connections and intersections possible for our students (and ourselves). Connections and intersections that jolt creativity by bringing separate ideas and people together. One large and critically important connection we made for our students – and for anyone or any student who wants to be involved – is the Thinking Creatively Conference.

Dr. Dawood Farahi, president of Kean University fully supports the pursuit of enriching, and expanding the students’ experiences, study, learning, and excitement through offering not only the best situation in the classroom but to also provide extraordinary opportunities beyond it. The president is himself an idea maven and a connector so from its inception, Dr. Farahi was totally behind the creativity conference as a means to bring an eclectic group of masterfully creative thinkers to the campus (and open the opportunity to all) – to hear and learn, connect and reflect, and to leave thinking creatively more than when one arrived.

ADCNJ logo

To help with outreach and publicity from across the state and metro area, the Art Directors Club of New Jersey (ADCNJ) also joined the mix – knowing that connections and direct experience talking with and listening to giant creatives could potentially jolt its professional membership.

Another great connection.

And what exactly can one expect by Thinking Creatively?

To be specific, Kean University’s Thinking Creatively Conference, slated for April 7–9 in 2011, will be an eclectic three-day event bringing together all sorts of experimental, innovative thinkers, designers, passionate inventors, business leaders, psychologists, writers, architects, performers, technology gurus, corporate communicators, blithe-spirits, photographers, illustrators, typographers, social networking mavens, artists, and those who don’t like to be labeled, to create that small but exceptional opportunity for intellectual nourishment, inspiration, connecting, and intersecting.

Need a specific example of the creative giants who present?

When Bob Isherwood, then Global Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi, presented at Thinking Creatively in 2003, he brought with him a crew and a performance to dramatize a call to the advertising and design community to use their creative thinking to promote world peace and bring attention to human rights issues and the betterment of the human life in general.

Seymour Chwast, whose wit and visual journalism had the audience in riot of laughter throughout his presentation; Drew Neisser, President and CEO of Renegade presented his philosophy, “Marketing as Service”; and Nick Law, EVP, Chief Creative Officer, North America of R/GA, explained the art of transmedia branding. Elvish autographs were signed by Daniel Reeve, artist and calligrapher for the films: Lord of the Rings and King Kong; the introspective Benita Raphan, filmmaker, presented three short documentaries on creativity; Deborah Adler had the audience in tears as she gave the first public presentation on her now famous humanitarian redesign of Target’s prescription bottle. Steven Brower, then Creative Director of Print Magazine, spoke on the creative life—thoughts of which are reflected in his recent books on the visual art of Woody Guthrie and Louis Armstrong.

During the 7th Thinking Creatively 2010 – Jon Kamen president of @radical media and James Spindler, Creative Director of @radical, generously shared aspects of their work that dive deeply into the core of the intersections among art, design, commerce, and culture. Also in during the lucky seventh year, the Gruskin Group sponsored and led the first Thinking Creatively Open Charrette composed of one hundred students from NJ and beyond. This event is a “thinking creatively” competition and is included so that the students have an opportunity to interact across university boundaries. Students and the professional mentors found the Charrette intensely enriching and inspiring.

With intersections as the theme for the Thinking Creatively 8, the challenge is to create as many cross-roads of creativity as possible: in design, art, entertainment, performance, science, technology, commerce, and new media. The 8th conference kicks off with Ben Chang – hybrid computer scientist, designer, and artist working in virtual three-dimensions. Trish Witkowski of the Fold Factory and others (top secret) will share the drama of folding paper and folding parachutes or whatever else they can think of. With seven million hits on YouTube, Global Media Star, Alan Robbins is set for an entertaining workshop and to share his “secrets.” Oh, there is much more to come!

Thinking Creatively Eight. Intersect. Be inspired. Get your creative jolt.

Thinking Creatively Conference graphic designed by Steven Brower