Creativity Interview with Helen Walthier

I recently completed an interview with my sister, Helen, about my creative life, sources that sustain my creative activities, and plans for creativity in my future. Helen conducts similar interviews with people from around the country, spanning a wide array of human endeavor, from artists, designers, healthcare professionals and software developers. These interviews are great reading and inspiring, too.

Helen’s questions were interesting and provocative. And also timely. I retired from my professional career a little over a year ago and have thrown myself into creative activities that I had to keep on the back-burner for much of my working life. I work in extensively with ceramics. I’ve now taken several sculpture classes which benefit my ceramics work by forcing me to think more sculpturally. I’ve also revived earlier creative pursuits like drawing and painting. While pursuing multiple art forms may dilute progress on any one front, I’m actually finding quite a bit of cross-pollination going on. For example, I’ve recently started integrating more drawing into my ceramic surfaces.

Helen started these creativity interviews after noticing difficulties some of her landscape architecture graduate students encountered “transitioning from the analytical, research-oriented start of a project, to the creative, design-oriented portion of the assignment.” How does one, in any context, “become creative” or “turn on their creativity”? Are there ways to improve one’s creative processes? Are there ways to expand creativity from, let’s say, professional contexts or specific artistic endeavors to more generally “living creatively”? Helen’s interviews seek to answer or at least provide examples of answers to these questions.

I found it quite challenging to answer some of Helen’s questions. They really made me think through my past experiences and my present motivations. I’m still thinking about some of her questions, honestly. I’m not sure I really got to the bottom of what moves me creatively, or why creating objects is such an important and prolonged theme in my life. Maybe these are unanswerable questions. Creativity is, to some extent, almost impulsive, something that works at the subconscious or even genetic level. I think the best approach is to worship the creative impulse, even if you cannot completely define and understand it.

Find more of Helen’s creativity interviews here.

One thought on “Creativity Interview with Helen Walthier

  1. Thank you John, for engaging so enthusiastically in my Creativity Interviews project. I am glad you found the questions encouraged exploration of your creative process, and creative living in general. It has been a pleasure working with you on this.


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