Tuesday, October 27, 2009


In the book ‘Old Masters and Young Geniuses’ by David Galenson there are two types of innovators researched. His analysis of the life cycles of creativity has considered painters, sculptors, poets, novelists and movie directors.

It appears that creativity is not the exclusive domain of either theorists or empirists, nor are major innovations made exclusively by the young or old.

Conceptual innovators  work deductively. They are most often the young geniuses, who revolutionize their disciplines early in their careers. Conceptual innovators state their ideas or emotions, often summarily and without hesitation.
The central elements of conceptual innovators’ major contributions often arrive in brief moments of inspiration, and they can often be recorded and communicated quickly. A fundamental characteristic of conceptual innovators is certainty; most have great confidence in the validity and significance of their contributions, and this allows them to put forward dramatic new works early in their careers in spite of their knowledge that most practioners of their disciplines will be hostile to their new ideas.

Experimental innovators work inductively. They are the old masters, whose greatest achievements usually arrive late in their lives. Experimental innovators think of their careers as an extended process of searching for the elusive means of understanding and expressing their perceptions.
Their major contributions typically involve superb craftsmanship, the result of painstaking effort and experience acquired over the course of long careers. Even their major works are not generally intended as definitive statements, but are provisional, subject to later modification or further development, reflecting their author’s lack of certainty in their accomplishment. Uncertainty is perhaps the most common characteristic of great experimental innovators.

A basic result that has emerged from this research is the recognition that both conceptual and experimental innovations have played an enormous role in the modern history of each of the artistic activities that have been studied.
It implies that aptitude and ambition are more important factors in allowing people to make contributions to a chosen discipline than the ability to think and work in a particular way, either deductively or inductively.

So, what kind of innovator are you?!


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