David is an artist, researcher and writer who has recently published Creative You: Using your Personality Type to Thrive, (Simon and Schuster, 2013). In it he shows that everyone can be creative in their own ways. He has also created the symbol for the Pan American Health Organization/WHO to use for World Health Day to promote and protect human rights.
Carrie: Thank you David for joining us on Artist Strong today. You have a blog called Courageously Creative. What compelled you to create it?
I’m a private person so it took a compelling reason for me to be so public. I’m disturbed by all the misunderstandings and myths about what it means to be creative, or not creative, that are holding people back. Many people are acting creatively and getting discouraged for the wrong reasons, and others aren’t thinking of themselves as creative at all.
Creativity takes confidence and the first thing we need to have is courage is to know ourselves. This is what my book helps people do. Everything doesn’t fit in the book so my blog is overflow. And it’s fun!
Carrie: Alongside your blog, you have a book entitled Creative You that you wrote with Otto Kroeger. How is this book useful for creatives?
Our book shows that “creatives” aren’t a single type of person; I’m getting some fantastic responses from readers. We profile 16 types of creativity (of course with overlappings) based on our personality preferences. When people find the one that’s their closest match, they say: “That’s me …that’s what I do” and by knowing themselves, they create with more confidence. They are less likely to be discouraged by critics who don’t get what they are doing.
I was just talking with a very extraverted Chief Innovation Officer of a well known non-profit who told me that Creative You has helped her to better understand her employees, especially the introverted ones; now she understands how to get them to contribute their creativity. Another reader, a would-be entrepreneur who has plenty of ideas, is very spontaneous but didn’t have enough follow through. After reading our book and talking with me it became clear she needed to partner with people having different creative strengths. She formed some new partnerships and last week pitched her latest idea and won first place at a startup forum; she is now attracting investors.
Carrie: Can you describe your collaborative process when working creatively with others?
There is a lot of talk about the wonders of collaboration but one thing I know about my creative process is that my best creative work happens when I have plenty of time alone to reflect.
This doesn’t mean I don’t see the value in working with others, especially when they have different strengths. Otto Kroeger, my co-author, was a genius and had a different creative style than me but we understood each other. Whenever we would have a new idea to consider, he would say “let’s gather the troops and talk with them about their experiences and feelings” while I would be more interested in running off to the library and researching. For our work, we used both approaches and produced a much stronger product.
Carrie: What was one hurdle in the creation of Creative You and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest hurdles may seem strange. I thought writing would take me six months but instead became an eight-year project and had many bumps along the way. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge came from taking the 1000 pages we wrote and condensing it down to 340; the publisher wanted shorter without losing the depth. Reducing was painful but in the end I learned to boil off the unnecessary water.
Carrie: As if you weren’t busy enough with your support and promotion of all things creative, you are also a painter! When did you first discover your love of the arts?
Yes, I love paintings and seemingly have many diverse pursuits that all fit under the umbrella of creativity. I’ve been painting since I was a kid and I love photography too. I never thought I was any more talented than others; I just really enjoyed it and had enough confidence not to be discouraged away from it. In order to try to relax I started watercolor in Y2K and expected it to be a practice medium for a short time; instead, I got hooked.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork (or book) from idea to product?
I’m actually a fast painter and quick at writing but that’s just execution and the tangible end part of my long creative process. I thought about the ideas for my book for many years before beginning to write and I just finished a painting that was inspired from a walk in Shanghai that I can’t believe was six years ago! It’s not always that latent but contemplation is the most important part of my process even though it’s invisible.
Carrie: How do you think vulnerability affects artists/creatives?
Some personalities are prone to share more than others, however, it’s scary for anyone to stand up and show what they’re passionate about. What is original is by definition different from the norm; ironically just as we value originality in the arts and sciences, for some reason what is new is the first victim of criticism.
How we feel about vulnerability relates to one of two types of personality preferences about how we make decisions. The first type is very logical and prefers to seek justice in decision-making. They treat what they create objectively from an arms-length away and can often see what they make as separate from themselves; they grow a thick skin.
The other type of people strongly weighs their personal values, consider foremost how their decisions affect people, and wish to promote harmony. These people are more vulnerable to vulnerability since what they create is often seen as part of themselves. When criticized, they get wounded and often take it personally. Whichever type you are, we all have something to contribute and it’s our obligation to share what we create, even though it takes courage. And mistakes are ok, ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?
Carrie: Does being both an artist and an author inform one another? How?
Yes, whatever creative activities we engage in, they are all a means of expression. When I’m doing anything creative, I’m making connections and when in this mindset, even after laying my brush or pen down, the connecting continues; it influences all aspect of life. I’ve found that being engaged in photography improves my compositions in painting and visa-versa. Writing is new and now that I’m finished with my book, I’m re-examining my painting and I’m more conscious of telling a story and making an impact.
Carrie: If you could choose one “take-away” for people from all of your work, what would that be?
Today, it’s necessary for us all to act creatively and its something we are all capable of doing. The important thing to know is that we all have our own creative style and it relates to our own personality type. Our greatest strengths come from our differences. Learning about our personality and our personal strengths lets us know ourselves. It is the best way to gain the courage we need to be courageously creative.
Carrie: Are there any upcoming projects out on the horizon for David B. Goldstein?
Good question. Determining our next big thing is rarely easy. The release of CREATIVE YOU has caused me to be pulled into so many directions and all of the tiny pieces in my snow globe are still fluttering around. I see so many areas in business, the sciences, and education, where my work can make positive change and I’m having fun following as many directions as I can, but haven’t decided on my next big project.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I’m inspired by some famous artists like Turner, John Singer Sargent, and Cezanne but found from studying that they were regular people who happened to understand and use their natural strengths. Even though these people had much to offer, for example, I don’t think Cezanne’s neighbors even noticed him!
I look around my neighborhood and my communities and see some regular people who are passionate and using their own natural strengths too in all kinds of diverse ways. I try to get to know them and see them in action; these are the people who inspire me most.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
As I’m trying to show everyone they can be creative in their own ways, my bias inclines me to cast a wide net and say creativity is simply making something new such as a product, process or idea. It doesn’t even have to be useful today, because sometimes we create intermediate steps that can be built on later. Creativity is an integral part of humanity!
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you considered how your personality type influences your creativity? Share below!
You can find David here: