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For Austrian-born Stefan Sagmeister and native New Yorker Jessica Walsh, designers and creative directors of New York-based firm Sagmeister & Walsh, that shared creative restless has led to a collaboration based on the ethos that you can and indeed, must be free to follow your interests wherever they lead. For bothsagmeister and walsh, creative partners-in-crime for nearly a decade now, jumping from writing books to producing films to curating interactive installations to designing brand identities of keeping things interesting.People who are high in openness tend to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, artistic, introspective, and intellectual. They’re driven to explore their internal worlds of ideas, emotions, sensations, and fantasies and, outwardly, to constantly seek out and make meaning of new information and experiences.
A Case Study in the Creative Personality
Boredom can be good for creativity if you do it right. The upside of a restless mind is the fertile ground for creative exploration. Sagmeister and Walsh embody a personality trait that psychologists have found to be at the very heart of creativity: openness to experience. Psychologists say that openness is the strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement in the arts and sciences.
Free creative exploration gives them a constant source of inspiration for new projects, while having their hand in multiple different kinds of creative projects at the same time helps ward off creative blocks, according to Sagmeister. “I like to work on a good number of projects simultaneously,” he says. “I get stuck with one I can switch over to another,” he says. A key to keeping things fresh, for both designers, is allowing themselves time. Time off. Time to experiment. Time to fail. Time to play. Time to dream.
A Dreamer Build a Design Empire
The differences have been just as critical to their partnership as their similarities. Walsh, who tested as a Dreamer type on Adobe’s Creative Types creative personality test, is the perfect creative counterpart to Sagmeister, a Visionary. Walsh is the prototypical Dreamer type: imaginative, sensitive, intuitive and insightful. As a child, she was content to spend hours alone doing arts and crafts, making sculptures out of Play-Doh and working with beads.
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As a Visionary type, Sagmeister is charismatic, full of ideas, and relentlessly driven to make the world a better, and more beautiful, place. While they shared a love of beauty and a desire to change the way people see the world, their divergent personal backgrounds and personality types allowed them.