24 October 2015
Anglia Ruskin University

Interview: Stephanie Taylor

Dr Stephanie Taylor shares her history and motivations ahead of her creativeConf Cambridge keynote.

Could you tell me about your background and experience?

I am a social psychologist at the Open University and I have been researching the topics of creativity, creative identities and contemporary creative work for more than 10 years.

I am really interested in the importance of creativity for people working in the UK today, particularly for those who are freelance, self-employed or run their own businesses.

I am the co-author of a book titled “Contemporary Identities of Creativity and Creative Work” (Ashgate, 2012) and I have also written on life narratives, place and gender. I am currently developing a new project on home-based working and the life/work merge.

How did you find out about creativeConf Cambridge?

I was invited to be involved by Steve O’Connor of CamCreatives and Mark Dalgarno of Software Acumen.

Could you tell me why you are keen to be involved?

I have a double interest in being involved. On a personal level I am always interested in meeting new people and hearing about their work. I like to explore their different interpretations of creativity and understand how they make sense of being creative. On a professional level I am keen to meet people who might be willing to be interviewed (anonymously) as part of my ongoing research. I'll be handing out some fliers at the conference to invite people who are interested to contact me.

Could you tell me a bit more about your talk?

My talk is titled “A matter of talent, collaboration, or context? How psychologists understand creativity”. It is not my intention to focus on whether people are “creative” or not. Instead I want to look at the meanings of creativity from different perspectives. I will be challenging some of these meanings which have different implications for people, depending on their circumstances.

We are in a renaissance period when it comes to creativity. The subject is receiving a great deal of media attention and there is a plethora of information in the public domain – if you type the word “creativity” into Google, for example, you'll be directed to a long list of books on the Amazon website alone!.

“Creativity” has been understood differently at different periods in history. It was championed in the US during the Cold War, for example, because creativity was regarded by some theorists as a means to counteract communism. Nowadays creativity is valued socially and professionally, and it's also seen as an economic and even a political 'good'. In psychology, there are different theories of creativity and the creative person, and these have contributed to the way people outside academia think about creativity. I will be talking about some of these theories and considering their possible implications.

What do you hope participants will take away from your session?

I want participants to be inspired by what I have to say. I hope they'll be stimulated by the subject and understand its importance. By the end of my session I hope participants will have a better understanding of different theories about creativity and what it means, why it is valued so highly now and how that valuing impacts on different aspects our lives. I hope that this understanding will be of practical use in everyday situations, including participants' work.

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