The Cycle of Creative Resources - The creative process and creative well-being from the perspective of picturebook illustrators

Laura Valojärvi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

Research studies acknowledge the complex nature of creative personalities and show empirical evidence for an association between creativity and mood disorders. Yet, there has been surprisingly little discussion of creative professionals who have lost their work motivation and creative spark. A critical discussion of this phenomenon is often reduced instead to conversations focusing on some variation of the idea that the unifying characteristic of creative people is that they all love what they do. This perspective does not reflect the reality of the working lives of creative professionals and ignores those creative individuals who have lost their passion for their creative work. In the studies presented in this thesis, I focus on addressing this gap and attempt to provide a more in-depth understanding of the creative process. This thesis examines creative well-being and the complexity of the creative process from the perspective of picturebook illustrators. The methodological basis of the thesis is a qualitative approach called grounded theory. The term "grounded" refers to the idea that the theory emerging from the research is grounded in data, instead of having its basis in a particular theoretical framework. I collected the research data by documenting my own picturebook illustration process and by conducting narrative interviews with eight Finnish picturebook illustrators. Initially, my aim with the thesis was to gain a better understanding of the creative process of illustrating a picturebook. I started by trying to answer the question: what is the creative process of illustrating a picturebook? However, the more I examined my data, the clearer it became that it suggested a new kind of theory about the work-related well-being of creative professionals in general. Consequently, I ended up posing and answering two further questions: what are the main elements of creative resources, and what are the main factors contributing to creative well-being? This interdisciplinary investigation draws not only on studies of the picturebook illustration process, but also on research on creativity and creative processes in general. It concludes by providing two visual models that have emerged from the studies presented in this thesis. The first – the Picturebook Illustration Model – presents the four-stage process followed when illustrating picturebooks. The second – the Cycle of Creative Resources – proposes that creative well-being could be observed as a cycle of six states of creative resources that have been identified in this thesis. Where on the Cycle of Creative Resources a creative professional finds herself has a direct impact on how fulfilling or draining she experiences the creative process. This thesis suggests a new way to approach, achieve, and sustain creative well-being. It concludes by proposing that creativity in itself does not increase or diminish in a person – it is always there, ready to be used and explored. What increases or decreases are the creative resources. This, I propose, is at the core of creative well-being.
Translated title of the contributionLuovien voimavarojen kehä: Luova prosessi ja luova hyvinvointi kirjankuvittajien näkökulmasta tarkasteltuna
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Masoodian, Masood, Supervising Professor
  • Happonen, Sirke, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0311-3
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0312-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • creativity
  • well-being
  • creative process
  • picturebook
  • illustration
  • practice-led research

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