George Lucas says art drives innovation

Posted by: Reena Jana on October 7, 2009

George Lucas, the film-maker behind such hits as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, shared some uplifting thoughts on artistic passion and technological invention at the World Business Forum in New York on October 6. Tracing his career to its beginnings, he modestly said that it was the pursuit of art, not profit or invention, which fueled the many innovations he can be credited for, from early movie-merchandise strategies to the realistic computer-generated effects pioneered by Lucasfilm and featured in movies such as Jurassic Park.

Art is about communicating emotion via technology, he said. So it fuels creative thinking not only in terms of content, but also execution. It’s been the case since early cave paintings and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes. To achieve stunning effects, an artist often needs to push the boundaries of current technologies, and then discover a new way of doing things. And that very artistic process can lead to tech that can be highly monetized; in other words, innovation.

The takeaway from Lucas’ talk at the World Business Forum? Let employees be creative first to appeal to your audience’s emotions (and “audience” can apply to customers, of course) when devising new products, then worry about how and if a potential invention will be profitable. It worked for Lucas, clearly. He said he was always thinking of the emotional impact of his work since the beginnign of his career, and not how he was going to make millions or build an entertainment empire. Perhaps corporations could learn from artists like Lucas, just as they have been increasingly been learning from designers such as IDEO’s Tim Brown. Call it art-thinking.

Reader Comments

Mikey

October 8, 2009 9:32 AM

I declare insanity! Art has fed me and my family for 30 years now. Well, not always. I probably should have had job somewhere along the way, but I don't believe in giving up.

I went into my field of art not really knowing what I was doing, I just knew that's what I wanted to do as a profession.

I'm an automotive artist. I do custom hand painted pinstriping on vehicles, and anything else with a surface. My customers are those who love their cars.

I get most of my business by doing my art on vehicles at car shows. I stripe cars and entertain onlookers. Spectators at these events watch me apply my art which in turn entices them to let me do their cars. It becomes an emotional thing for them as I lay down painted lines on the car they love.

My customers have a strong emotional attachment to their cars and the artistic personalization makes what I do an important part of their lives. And they pay me good money to draw designs on their cars. How cool is that!

What I do is considered an "old school" form of art. It is tough to make it in this business. You have to make a name for yourself before people allow you to put a brush to their cars. Many of these people have invested six-figures or more into their passion so you have to know what you are doing in order to make it look right.

I'm a good example of what George Lucas says about appealing to audience (customers) emotions. Do that and the money will come.

As a survivor in this strange business for over 30 years, I may be able to teach companies a thing or two about what it takes to sell the artistic value of what they offer.
http://www.MikeysPinstriping.com

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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