Thursday, April 5, 2012

Inside out

So I came across an article on NPR that was full of creative ways of thinking about things. I'll admit, I had to read it several times before I actually understood what was being said, so I'll parse it down a bit. But I swear, it's super interesting. So read on.

It starts with some pretty freaky pictures like this:

Yeah. It's weird. It's also a duck. A stuffed duck. It comes from a series done by artist Kent Rogowski, who took some stuffed animals, turned them inside out, and took some pictures of them. Why? He wanted to get a new perspective on them. I don't know about you, but I've never really thought about what the inside of a stuffed animal looked like.

It's exactly how creatives think though. In class, we talked about Guilford's Alternative Uses Task, in which you'd name all of this different uses for a particular object. And people were scored on how original or elaborate their answers were. My prediction? Rogowski would score pretty gosh darn high on the test.

Don't connect with teddy bears? Maybe Japan is more your thing.

In Japan, most streets aren't named. Instead the blocks have names. So instead of living on Loyola Avenue, you'd live on Block 1. And your building number would be in the order of the age of the building, from oldest to newest. Confused? There's lots of illustrations in the article. It's confusing, but if you think about it longer, it totally works.

Or how about China?

Doctors there believe their job is to keep you healthy, so you pay them when you're healthy, and don't pay a dime when you're sick. Kind of makes sense, right?

It's all about the idea of taking ideas and turning them inside out, kind of like the stuffed animals. This way of thinking has led to lots of new products by taking what exists and turning it inside out.

It's complete "little c" creativity, full of problem solving and personal discovery. You're not creating something completely new, just looking at things in a way never thought of before.

Read this here:


  1. I absolutely love this take on creativity. We spend a lot of time focusing on creative people or things that are totally new and unheard of. And while this is, of course, an important aspect of creativity, I think that it makes us miss out on some really creative usages of already existing things and ideas. If you can come up with something new, then congrats! But if you ask me, it takes almost more creativity to rethink an old idea that has become ingrained in everyone's minds. To forge new connections is difficult, but to defy old ones can be even harder. Great find, and I'll definitely be reading the source article!

  2. In regards to the stuffed animal, it is different, but I am not sure if that is a convincing argument for something that is creative. When it comes to artists, they constantly have be evolving. Going to a high school that was strong in the visual arts I saw far too many projects that seemed to just be serving the shock factor, and after awhile, since they were all so strange, they started to seem similar in their strangeness. Personally, just because it is abnormal, does not mean it is creative. If anything, this seems to be following a trend in art. You have to look at the purpose, the problem this is solving. Just because a stuffed animal has never been turned inside out before, does not mean that what it is trying to convey and the theme it is playing off is unique and novel.

  3. This post makes me question the Guilford test. None of the examples mentioned here are "creative" per se. Rather, the examples strike me as more of an alleviating of ignorance. The value of the examples seems to me to be a perspective shift. The world is expanded by seeing other cultures tackle everyday problems. I don't think this is really creative. Redefining the concept of housing block is creative. Naming a block in a different way is just that, different. That leads me to my worries about Guilford. If the test of creativity doesn't distinguish between creativity and cultural differentiations, then the test is flawed. If one imagines an American testing the creativity of Japanese school children, the novelty and creativity is bound to be judged differently than if the same evaluation was done with American kids. Something to think about. Thanks for the fun article.


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