The Role of Inspiration in Artistic Creation

Posted by Institutional Development Scheme for HKSYU

Event Type: Research Seminar

Event Theme: Brain-based Teaching and Learning

Speaker: Prof. Takeshi Okada (Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Graduate School of Education, The University of Tokyo)

Date: 16 March 2016 (Wednesday)

Time: 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Venue: 1/F Room 103, Library Complex, HKSYU

Language: English


1) Free Admission
2) We recommend registration in advance for seat-reservation and news update.


Inspiration is a process by which someone or something motivates a person to action, by providing new ideas or arousing particular emotions. Works of art often inspire people to participate in artistic activities themselves. One of the situations in which artistic inspiration can be salient is where people interact with artworks by others on a deep level, for example by copying these works.

Using three experiments, we investigate such a process of artistic inspiration. In Experiment 1, undergraduates made drawings under three conditions: 1) copying an artist’s drawing, and then producing an original drawing; 2) producing an original drawing without having seen any other work; 3) copying another artist’s work, and then reproducing that artist’s style independently. We discover that through copying unfamiliar abstract drawings, participants are able to produce creative drawings qualitatively different from the model drawings. Process analyses suggest that the participants’ cognitive constraints become relaxed, and new perspectives are formed after copying artwork by others. Experiment 2, which compared exposure to different styles of artwork, shows that styles considered unfamiliar facilitate creativity in drawing, while styles considered familiar suppress it. Experiment 3, which compared different ways of exposure to unfamiliar styles, shows that copying and intensively viewing artwork facilitate creativity in drawing, whereas merely thinking about alternative styles of artistic representation does not.

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