November 8, 2017

15 of the best TED Talks for sparking creativity

Contributor - Taylor Poppmeier - Invaluable

Creativity comes in many forms but it sometimes takes a little kick to get your creative juices flow. The popular media company, TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design), is an excellent resource for inspiration, no matter your field. Their goal is to inspire and spread ideas that ignite change and innovation. Their motivational talks have been viewed millions of times across the globe. Lecturers range from artists to icons, from models to engineers, and the topics they explore are equally as diverse.

Whether you’re looking for the inspiration to bring an idea alive or simply looking to pass the time, these 15 TED talks are sure to spark your creativity. Each talk featured below was chosen from the plethora in existence for their passion and correlation to the art community.

A version of this article was first published on Invaluable


15 must-listen TED talks on creativity

Do schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.


Your Elusive Creative Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert 

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Don’t be daunted. Just do your job.

The author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some big topics. Her fascinations: genius, creativity and how we get in our own way when it comes to both.


Your body is my canvas

Alexa Meade 

Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it–literally. She covers everything in a scene–people, chairs, food, you name it–in a mask of paint that mimics what’s below it. In this eye-opening talk, Meade shows off photographs of some of the more outlandish results and shares a new project involving people, paint, and milk.

You can find the strange in the familiar, as long as you’re willing to look beyond what’s already brought to light.

Alexa Meade paints mesmerizing, illusionistic portraits directly on living subjects, subverting familiar visual cues with perspective and color.


The Clues to a Great Story

Andrew Stanton 

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “WALL-E”) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. Contains graphic language … (Note: this talk is not available for download.)

Use what you know… (this means) capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.

Andrew Stanton has made you laugh and cry. The writer behind the three “Toy Story” movies and the writer/director of “WALL-E,” he releases his new film, “John Carter,” in March.


The art of creating awe

Roberto Legato 

Rob Legato creates movie effects so good they (sometimes) trump the real thing. In this warm and funny talk, he shares his vision for enhancing reality on-screen in movies like Apollo 13, Titanic and Hugo.

Once you believe something’s real, you transfer everything that you feel about it, this quality you have, and it’s totally artificial. It’s totally make-believe, yet it’s not to you.

Rob Legato creates surprising and creative visual illusions for movies.


Taking imagination seriously

Janet Echelman 

Janet Echelman found her true voice as an artist when her paints went missing — which forced her to look to an unorthodox new art material. Now she makes billowing, flowing, building-sized sculpture with a surprisingly geeky edge. A transporting 10 minutes of pure creativity.

I liked the fine detail it gave my work, but I wanted to make them larger – to shift from being an object you look at to something you could get lost in.

American artist Janet Echelman reshapes urban airspace with monumental, fluidly moving sculpture that responds to environmental forces including wind, water, and sunlight.


Design and destiny

Philippe Starck 

Designer Philippe Starck — with no pretty slides to show — spends 18 minutes reaching for the very roots of the question “Why design?” Listen carefully for one perfect mantra for all of us, genius or not.

Now you have a duty: invent a new story. Invent a new poetry.

Philippe Starck designs deluxe objects and posh condos and hotels around the world. Always witty and engaged, he takes special delight in rethinking everyday objects.


Happiness by design

Stefan Sagmeister 

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister takes the audience on a whimsical journey through moments of his life that made him happy — and notes how many of these moments have to do with good design.

Much, much more difficult is this, where the designs actually can evoke happiness.

Renowned for album covers, posters and his recent book of life lessons, designer Stefan Sagmeister invariably has a slightly different way of looking at things.


Building the Seed Cathedral

Thomas Heatherwick 

A future more beautiful? Architect Thomas Heatherwick shows five recent projects featuring ingenious bio-inspired designs. Some are remakes of the ordinary: a bus, a bridge, a power station … And one is an extraordinary pavilion, the Seed Cathedral, a celebration of growth and light.

The key part is trying to give back an extraordinary piece of landscape, rather than engulf it.

Thomas Heatherwick is the founder of Heatherwick Studio, an architecture and design firm that, among other projects, designed the astonishing “Seed Cathedral” for the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010.


How I became 100 artists

Shea Hembrey 

How do you stage an international art show with work from 100 different artists? If you’re Shea Hembrey, you invent all of the artists and artwork yourself — from large-scale outdoor installations to tiny paintings drawn with a single-haired brush. Watch this funny, mind-bending talk to see the explosion of creativity and diversity of skills a single artist is capable of.

I was longing for more work that was appealing to a broad public, that was accessible. And the second thing was more exquisite craftsmanship and technique.

Shea Hembrey explores patterns from nature and myth. A childhood love of nature, and especially birdlife, informs his vision.


One year of turning the world inside out


Street artist JR made a wish in 2011: Join me in a worldwide photo project to show the world its true face. One year after making his TED Prize wish, he shows how giant posters of human faces, pasted in public, are connecting communities, making change, and turning the world inside out.

Can art change people’s lives? From what I’ve seen this year, yes.

With a camera, a dedicated wheatpasting crew and the help of whole villages and favelas, 2011 TED Prize winner JR shows the world its true face.


Art that craves your attention

Aparna Rao 

In this charming talk, artist Aparna Rao shows us her latest work: cool, cartoony sculptures (with neat robotic tricks underneath them) that play with your perception — and crave your attention. Take a few minutes to simply be delighted.

We’re really looking at an audience as its own object or its own organism that’s also got a sort of musical-like quality to it, an instrument.

A part of the Bangalore-based artist duo Pors & Rao, TED Senior Fellow Aparna Rao works with electro-mechanical systems and interactive installations.


Glorious visions in animation and performance

Miwa Matreyek

Using animation, projections and her own moving shadow, Miwa Matreyek performs a gorgeous, meditative piece about inner and outer discovery. Take a quiet 10 minutes and dive in. With music from Anna Oxygen, Mirah, Caroline Lufkin and Mileece.

Dream time, I will find you.

Miwa Matreyek creates performances where real shapes and virtual images trade places, amid layers of animation, video and live bodies.


My 5 lives as an artist

Raghava KK

With endearing honesty and vulnerability, Raghava KK tells the colorful tale of how art has taken his life to new places, and how life experiences in turn have driven his multiple reincarnations as an artist — from cartoonist to painter, media darling to social outcast, and son to father.

For me, my art is my magic carpet ride.

Raghava KK’s paintings and drawings use cartoonish shapes and colors to examine the body, society, our world.


The playful search for beauty

Eva Zeisel 

The ceramics designer Eva Zeisel looks back on a 75-year career. What keeps her work as fresh today (her latest line debuted in 2008) as in 1926? Her sense of play and beauty, and her drive for adventure. Listen for stories from a rich, colorful life.

Well, makers of things: they make things more beautiful, more elegant, more comfortable than the craftsmen do.

The legendary Eva Zeisel worked as a ceramics designer — whose curvy, sensual pieces bring delight and elegance to tabletops around the world.



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