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Sitting down with Artie Isaac

Rebecca Gelston

In your own words, what do you do?

I don't teach creativity as much as I encourage it. With some old fashioned encouragement, my college students and corporate clients return to a natural creativity. They are -- we all are -- more creative than we realize, because much of our creative talent has gone dormant due to lack of attention.  My tools are readings, presentations and conversations on creativity, engagement and motivation; the techniques of improvisational theatre (where brainstorming is alive); and committed devotion to creativity as a role model.

You’ve been quoted as saying that creativity is like exercise. What do you mean by that?

People sometimes say, "I'm not creative." I ask, "How hard are you trying?" We all know what it takes to be physically fit: exercise, good nutrition, sleep, no smoking, not too much drinking. When we cheat any of those variables, we know that our fitness might be jeopardized. Well, creative fitness is the same thing: it takes the same discipline, the same amount of time. (But you don't have to shower after a creative workout.) People who do nothing about their creativity and expect a spontaneous moment of ingenuity are like people who do nothing about their fitness and expect a spontaneous moment of healthfulness.

How do I become more creative?

Are there people you can join, priorities that you can accept, resources that you can deny yourself, places you can be that make you less creative? Of course: that's life. To become more creative, be more selfish: stop surrounding yourself with those people, stop drowning in priorities, stop denying yourself those resources, and stop going places that make you less creative. You will return to a productive, focused, childlike creativity. Most of all: stop watching television and listening to the radio (particularly the news). Think your own thoughts for a while.

How can creativity influence innovation? 

As I see it, creativity is the raw ingredient, the imaginative strength of the individual or team. The product is innovation, the incremental or revolutionary advance. If, as Plato said, necessity is the mother of invention, creativity is mother's milk or the midwife or the birth canal or maybe the diaper. In any event, you're going to want some around.

What do you order at your favorite café? 

I have come late to coffee. I started drinking it just a few years ago, at the age of 48 or so. These days, my favorite drink in my favoriate place is a Caffé Americano at Café Gitane in New York City, with a pain au chocolat. Or, when I'm at home in Columbus, Americano at Pistacia Vera with absolutely anything in their extraordinary pastry case.

International innovator Artie Isaac will be accompanying the Mont Blanc Gourmet team to SCAA 2011 in Houston later this week. Visit Mont Blanc and Artie at Booth 1505 this weekend in Houston. You can read more about Artie in an earlier post