Book Review: Creativity, Inc


Every once in a while you come across a book you would never attempt to read but for some stupid reason you do, and you are so thankful you did. This is one of those times.

While researching material on writing, I came across a recommendation for a book, and I kind of scratched my head. This was a book on business, and there was just no way I would read a book on business – my eyes would glaze in the first page, the same way they do if someone is talking actuarial tables or student loan forms. What could such a book have to do with writing? It just so happened the library had a copy I was able to grab. And that book, despite being a couple of years old (2014), is the best book I have read so far this year.

Creativity, Inc. is written by Ed Catmull,  who was part of the driving force behind Pixar Studios, the film company known for making ground-breaking and award-winning (and record-breaking, with more than 14 Billion dollars in revenue) animated films, such as Toy Story, Monsters,Inc, A Bug’s Life, and more. When Pixar and Disney merged in 2006, he applied his same priciples to the flagging animation department at Disney, who hadn’t had a hit in 16 years. Disney shot right back up with films like Wall-E, Cars, Incredibles, Coco, Brave, etc. To read this book is to relive the last 30 years of animated film making. If it’s not a walk down memory lane for your childhood, it is a reminder of all the wonderful films you saw with your children. If you haven’t enjoyed any of them, run and grab one today. 

What is Catmull’s secret? Of course a strong bottom line is what investors want, and Catmull agrees, but he refuses to allow the creativity of the artists to be stymied in any way. There are no superstars – not even preferred parking. Everyone from the janitor to the lunch lady to the writer is allowed equal – respected – input. Employees are encouraged to do what it takes to keep happy and relaxed, because happy employees are productive employees. They are encouraged to take time for classes offered at work – art, archery, whatever. If they are producing a film in Africa, a team of writers and artists will take a field trip to Africa and experience what they are trying to portray. Films, from first idea pitch to final cut – are brought up for constant, honest review, where the ensemble team toss ideas off each other about the work, good or bad, and the film may take a twist for the better from it. Every artist is respected every step of the way. Written into the contracts is a proviso that if a film reaches a certain amount of return, a portion of that is given to the employees as a bonus.

Needless to say, Pixar and Disney Animation staff are  happy to go to work. 

So, how did that all relate to writing?

Remember that movies start as stories. Someone has to write them before they can be filmed. By keeping an atmosphere that encourages creativity, no matter how odd (come on – talking cars? Emotions? Bugs? A rat who likes to cook? ), by immersing yourself in a creative environment, by learning to take constructive criticism without imploding, you become a better writer. A writer needs feedback as they develop ideas, as they write the ideas, as they polish their ideas into a final copy.  

This book was a joy to read. Grab it, read it, whether you’re looking for a business model to follow, as a manager looking to improve productivity, as an artist looking for appreciation, as a movie person wanting to know more about Pixar and Disney films. It’s all there. 

Be amazed at the process, and then check out one of the masterpieces Catmull’s presided over. Wall-E, Coco and Up are perfect for adults!

The Incredibles   –  Ratatouille  –  Cars  –  Shorts Finding Dory  –  Wall-E   

Inside Out –  Brave  –  Monsters, Inc  –  Toy Story  –  Coco  –  Up

Designing with Duct Tape

Duct tape is a marvel for emergency repairs to home, boat, shoes, and much more. However, this wonder has also found many more uses by those with too much time on their hands or a giant creative streak. These days some people are selling duct tape art work, clothing, accessories and more to help pay their bills. I have seen wallets, purses, hats, ties, dresses, jackets, and more created with just imagination and duct tape. The assorted colors and custom patterns that manufacturers are making duct tape with only help those looking to create rather than simply repair items with this study and versatile adhesive.

Would you like to try your hand at creating with duct tape, want to create a craft project to keep hands busy, or are just curious about the hows and whys of creating with duct tape? Well, have we got the books for you.


Stick It!

Stick it! : 99 D.I.Y. Duct Tape Projects by T. L. Bonaddio is a great place to start. This book is geared towards young adults and adults complete with folders and detailed step-by-step directions to walk readers through 99 duct tape craft projects in a full range of difficulty levels. Some of the craft ideas included are bracelets, flip-flops, wallets, purses, and pillows. I highly suggest stocking up a variety of colored duct tapes before trying your hand at any of these projects.


Kids; Guide to Duct Tape Projects

The Kids’ Guide to Duct Tape Projects by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt is a great place for the younger set to get started with duct tape creations. This book contains complete instructions for eight relatively easy duct tape projects in a step-by-step format along with safety tips and a craft glossary to help newcomers to crafting in general get started. Projects included here are a book cover, cell phone pouch, wallet, rose, picture frame, game board, and a couple of fashion items.


The Duct Tape Book

For those not quite ready to jump in with both feet, but not so nervous that they want to go for the children’s book, I suggest starting in the middle with The Duct Tape Book : 25 Projects to Make with Duct Tape. This book, as the title promises, offers a selection instruction to 25 duct tape creations. With the help of this book you can create formal wear, puppets, purses, hats, picture frames, and more.

If this selection of duct tape books only wets your appetite and make you eager for more, simply stop in the library and we can help you find what you need to met your creative interests!