What inspires you? How do you come up with the innovative surge necessary to write a grant, complete a paper, apply for a fellowship or reframe a hypothesis?
Many researchers find inspiration in wandering through artistic creations, whether they’re viewing paintings, drawings, sculpture or performance art, reading, listening to live or recorded music or creating art of any genre themselves.
There’s little surprise here – studies have shown that experiencing art, whether as a viewer or producer, helps to stimulate creativity. And people are beginning to take note: art-science collaborations are gaining traction as researchers explore how working with artists can stoke their productivity, give them new perspective or a more creative outlook and bolster their communication and outreach skills.
Plenty of researchers moonlight as professional musicians, and say that writing and performing music helps them recalibrate and come back to the lab with a different viewpoint or new ideas. . And we talked to a lot of researchers who vow that gazing at art – along with creating it – does exactly the same thing.
If you’re in Europe, hop over to Linz and take a stroll through The Ars Electronica Center in Linz, which is dedicated to science and the digital arts. Many of the works in the centre have resulted from collaborations between artists and scientists. You might find some inspiration yourself.
Getting to know the art community can be helpful in other ways, too – commissioning an artist to illustrate your publication may well bring it a lot more positive attention than it would get on its own. Especially if it lands you on the cover.
And in case you’re still not convinced, we put together a special on how art and science intersect and feed off one another. So pick up a piece of charcoal or go to your nearest art gallery. You won’t regret it.