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Creativity: From a Pile of Rocks to a Work of Art

Inspiration comes to us free of charge. But that’s just the start of the creative process. Making a work of art, launching a business or even starting a career requires a holistic mental and emotional skill set. Josh Gosfield, a fine artist, author and award winning illustrator, photographer and art director will take you through the steps of his artistic process, from inspiration to finished product. The talk will focus on a specific body of art—the acclaimed, art show about a fictional celebrity, a 60’s French pop star, Gigi Gaston the Black Flower, that the New Yorker called, “Pop history meets fan fantasy, with hilarious results,” Boing Boing described as “A painstakingly thorough archive of something that never happened,” and about which Bruce Sterling of Wired wrote, “I stand in awe.” Besides looking at a lot of cool pictures, we’ll talk about how to develop self awareness, focus, receptivity and critical thought to bring creativity to any project you are working on.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How do you find inspiration? We’ll trace the imaginative artistic leaps I took from witnessing a massive pile of rocks at Joshua Tree National Park to creating a fine art project about a fictional celebrity. The spark of inspiration occurs at the intersection of the external world and the mind. When you open yourself to the experience of the outside world while unleashing your mind’s power of free association the ideas will come.
  2. How can being a fool help me succeed? Only a stubborn fool devotes valuable time to a dream, but it’s only the fools of the world that create something entirely new. Picasso made some terrible art and Steve Jobs was responsible for some epic flops but they understood that the only way you’ll ever find out if your idea will be a smash hit or a spectacular dud is if you put yourself out there and try. We’ll talk about how to develop the mindset to be foolish enough to follow your dreams.
  3. Why do I have to work so hard? The rare genius might be able to pick up a pen and create a masterpiece or jot down an idea for the next Google on a napkin. But the rest of us have to be prepared. To create a fictional celebrity I study iconic poses, hairstyles, clothes, camera optics, copywriting, magazine design and printing techniques of the particular time. If you’re in love with your inspiration—whether an idea for an artwork or a business—spend the time to learn everything you need to know.
  4. How can I be original? Before I created a fictional celebrity I made sure no one else had done it in the same way. I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making the work and then be considered an imitator. In other words there’s no sense in painting Campbell’s soup cans or inventing a tablet a little bit different than the iPad. We’ll talk about how to develop ideas that break new ground. One good tip: always mine ideas from outside of your chosen field.
  5. How can I improve my ideas? Your idea is not you and you are not your idea. Think of your idea as a child. And you are its guardian. Being too congratulatory or handing your idea a medal because it arrived at soccer practice on time is not going to help. We’ll talk about how ideas needs discipline and form to mature and how an artist or entrepreneur needs to put their ego to the side so they can dispassionately critique their idea to improve and refine it.



Josh Gosfield, artist, Mighty House of Pictures

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