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What Type of Creative Are You?

... and step 1 in the Creative Advantage Program Model

· Organisational,Neuroscience,Creativity Tools

My new upcoming book provides practical models and tools, applicable across all aspects of our lives to help the reader successfully create an advantage where they work, live, play and as they age.


One feature of the book is a seven step process- what I've called the Creative Advantage Program Model, and I've been thinking further about how so many areas I write about in this blog fit neatly into the model.

One is the idea of thinking about how we see ourselves as creatives. I wrote about this back in 2018 in the post Picasso vs Cezanne..which are you? (6 July 2018).


I'm revisiting this and thinking about how the conceptual verses experimental plays out..... Its author David Galenson, an economic art historian (yes they do exist) applied the principles of conceptualism and experimentalism to methods of innovation.

Conceptual innovators do their best work early in their life, they work quickly with specific ideas they want to communicate and they articulate those ideas clearly. They plan precisely and then execute. Someone like Picasso, who bursts on to the art scene, epitomizes the conceptual innovator. Galenson points out Picasso’s abrupt stylistic changes, planning his work in advance with great detail and hinting that his work carried a deliberate message.

In contrast experimental innovators don’t display a clearly articulated idea and they don’t work quickly. They don’t really know where they’re going when they start, and they work by trial and error producing drafts and taking time to figure out what they want to say. Galenson recognised this in the artist Cezanne, who comes back to the same subject with no clear linear plan, producing many versions until he stumbles onto the idea that seizes his imagination.

Although more disputed, he also defined conceptualists as taking unrelated disciplines and finding a way to simplify them so that they could better solve innovative questions. Where as experimentalists tend to specialize in one discipline, and develop deep knowledge of the subject over time.

Although Galenson initially developed the idea from his observations of artists, he says the theory is also applicable to poets, novelists, film makers, musicians, scientists and ... economists.

Among his examples he cites of conceptionalists are:

F Scott Fitzgerald who wrote The Great Gatsby at age 29

Orson Wells who made Citizen Kane at age 26

Albert Einstein was aged 26 when he published four groundbreaking papers;

And among the examples he gives of experimentalists are:

Mark Twain who wrote the Adventures of Huckleberry Fin at age 50

Alfred Hitchcock who made Vertigo at age 59

Charles Darwin was aged 50 when he published Origin of Species.

So what about you?

Do you identify as a conceptual or experimental innovator? Sometimes comparisons can help but whatever our age or approach we are all innately creative. Let's recognise this and use it to our advantage.

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The Creative Advantage book series will be available in Feb 2021.

References are in The Creative Advantage and additional source for this post from