Because artists make something out of nothing, the process can seem like magic, divinely inspired and inexplicable. It’s not. A single, potent factor lies at the heart of most everything creative: the mysterious, multi-faceted trait of “openness.” This book describes the role of the openness dimension in the typical artist mind: how it loosens thinking, how it widens feelings, how it motivates behavior, how it stimulates an inner chaos encouraging artistic invention. For creatives, openness is a unifying glue. It binds together states and processes at the core of the art making impulse. A related key variable is trauma, according to scientific findings: the raw material with which so many artists work. In novels, poems, stories, and photographs, trauma gets symbolically repeated, shaped in the direction of a torturous beauty. Scientifically astute, conceptually subtle, and packed with richly-detailed artist examples—from David Bowie to Frida Kahlo, from John Coltrane to Francesca Woodman, from Diane Arbus to Kurt Cobain—The Mind of the Artist demystifies artistic genius. It is a new, true portrait of artistic vision.
A brilliant psychologist takes on the question of what makes artists artists. And yes, he has data. And rigorous research. And superb intuition too. (Did I mention style?) One of civilization’s great mysteries — solved! Or closer to solved. What an adventure!
–Walter Kirn, New York Times bestselling author of Up in the Air, Thumbsucker and Blood Will Out
This book blew my mind. It grabs you right away and you can’t put it down. Fascinating and brilliant, beautifully written. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen on the subject before. All artists should read it.
–Asia Argento, actress, director, writer, artist
There is no way to be more rigorous and comprehensive in one’s research or more thrilling and illuminating in presentation. The great mystery of creativity bursts into clarity in these pyrotechnic pages. This book will make you rethink everything you know about art, psychology, yourself — a critical step in cultivating an artist’s outlook.
–Yelena Akhtiorskaya, author of Panic in a Suitcase
A book on artistic creativity should be written by a creative author – and Todd Schultz has one of the most creative minds in psychology today. Drawing upon personality science, personal experience, and a wealth of biographical vignettes, Schultz presents a fascinating and truly unique perspective on what it means to be an artist and how artists do their creative work. There are insights here for artists themselves, as well as psychologists, and for so many of the rest of us who aspire to be more creative in our thinking, in our work, and in our lives.
–Dan P. McAdams, The Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University, Author of The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning
Creativity often gets discussed in airy and imprecise ways, but the science behind it is unassailable. In this extraordinary, elegantly written book, Schultz shows us the psychological research, tracing it through the lives of various artists—John Lennon, David Bowie, Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo—to elucidate how personality lays the foundation for the states of mind in which art gets made. Essential reading for artists and anyone curious about the creative process. In other words, for pretty much everyone.
–Amanda Fortini, Beverly Rogers Fellow at The Black Mountain Institute and author of the forthcoming book of essays, Flamingo Road
Books about creativity and ‘unleashing your inner artist’ are a dime a dozen. With The Mind of the Artist, we have something entirely different – a serious, nuanced, evidence-based look into the research behind creativity and what separates Picasso from the hobbyist down the street.
–David J. Morris, author of The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
William Todd Schultz has x-ray vision for the creative psyche.
–Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs
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