Creativity from Constraints: The Psychology of Breakthrough

By Patricia D. Stokes | Go to book overview

Preface

ART SCHOOL AND ADVERTISING

This book grew out of things I learned in art school and in advertising, things which I only understood when I became a psychologist.

Psychology obviously is my second career. 1 would say teaching too except that when I was a group head, I taught cub copy writers. That career, the first one, was in advertising. I went to Pratt. I worked at J. Walter Thompson, Ted Bates, Jordan Case McGrath. I wrote on national accounts, primarily on package goods—things that come in packages and are sold on shelves. I worked on food (Wonder Bread, Good Seasons), toiletries (Arrid, Ponds), cosmetics (Avon, Maybelline, Helena Rubenstein).

It was terrific. I even got to work in Tokyo for three years. It was terrific for a long time, and then something terrible happened—I got bored. In a creative business, where I was successful, I got bored. (We'll get back to boredom as a catalyst).

To get un-bored, I went to back to school, to Columbia, for a PhD. I always wanted to be a doctor, a certified expert. Why psychology? I worked in the [creative department,] where success meant solving the same problem, selling the same product, over and over in different ways. Psychologists studied creativity. I read a lot of what psychologists wrote. Much of it was about traits, talent, genius, stuff you have or don't have: not very useful in an advertising agency. The parts that were more pragmatic— training, steps, strategies—never came close to what goes on in a professional school like Pratt or an advertising agency like Bates. Let me tell you something about art school and advertising:

-xi-

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