Creativity: Emotion + Reason

Earlier in the Creativity series we discuss the paradox of Expression vs Order, concluding that the two are parallel rails leading the train of thought to its final destination. In Creativity: Inspired by a Solution we discover the two types of creatives—expressive and innovative. In this post we’ll dig a bit deeper, looking specifically at Emotion and Reason to learn how to use them effectively when reaching our audience.

Let’s consider two observations that will help us to understand and connect with our audience, whether we are expressive or innovative.

First, we perceive the creative process through our own unique set of filters.

  • For our most expressive creators (some forms of modern art) this may be your mantra! Color splash, dabs of paint, bends of metal, and Whallah! a design that exhibits innermost feelings, dreams, or visions. Lacking organization, this type of work generally requires explanation by the creator for others to connect with it on a meaningful level. It is, after all, a physical illustration of the intangible.
  • For our most logical innovators, your goal is to arrive at a straightforward solution that answers a specific problem or need through numbers, a set of chemical compounds, or a physical design. Contrary to emotional expression, though, innovative thinking provides a recognizable solution that others can challenge, verify, and adopt in the physical world.
  • Most of us don’t live on the extremes too often, but we can identify ourselves on either side of the center point to varying degrees. As such, we all reason and communicate with different levels of emotional and cognitive understanding.

Thankfully, this does not mean that we cannot appreciate creativity from another perspective! For instance, Einstein, a strong innovator, spent great amounts of time playing “Lina,” his violin, through the midst of his great mathematical/theoretical accomplishments (

What do these filters have to do with the value of my creativity?

Second, we can increase the perceived value of our creative efforts by crossing over our medium’s emotional or rational boundary.

A small economics lesson here, but clearly, the larger our audience the more opportunities we have to see our work adopted or purchased. Now, consider this:

  • The innovative naturally tends to secure a larger audience than the expressive. Here are some generalized statements for why I believe this is the case in western culture?
    • Innovation is fueled by the need for a physical solution, while expression is fueled by the need for emotional outlet.
    • Innovation provides a pathway to development, while expression provides a pathway to the inner being.
    • Innovation seeks future change, while expression seeks to influence and preserve the moment.
    • As a general rule, innovation impacts the masses, while expression impacts the few.
    • Innovation flourishes in times of survival and health, while expression is dampened (not extinguished) in times of survival and flourishes in times of health.

If the above is true, how can expression compete in the marketplace with innovation? Simple. Make your expressive work connect on a cognitive level! So, if it meets a need, whether real or perceived, and it also retains its emotional connection you have a strong potential to expand your target. I’ll consider listing ways to do this in a future post. Certainly, feel free to comment below regarding ways you have seen creatives connect their expressive work to innovative solutions to increase their acceptance and or sales?

Innovators, tie your solution to a need with an emotional element and you, too, have an increased opportunity to reach the marketplace.

This works at the investment and securities level, too, when trying to get your product into the market. Most lenders and financiers are concerned with one thing—the bottom line. In such cases, a quality presentation or pitch that addresses the specific questions and needs of the investors will serve you well, but you can provide additional value through the emotional connection or story your product can provide.

Narrowing it down to an action statement, we must learn to incorporate ways to reach beyond your own strengths, connecting with our audience where they find meaning to grow our creative influence and impact.

Questions to Consider:

  • Do you consider yourself a more rational or emotional individual? Would your closest friends agree with your assessment?
  • What is an example of an expressive individual or company that has grown its value in the marketplace by also providing an innovative or cognitive solution? How about an innovator who has connected it to a powerful story (expression)?
  • What would be your greatest value you could offer to an investor if they were considering a way to subsidize your work or project?

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