Creative Demand

My desk for the illustrated Dante notes project. My main reference is a 1944 Illustrated Modern Library edition, with amazing pictures by George Grosz

“A creative person must convince the field.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.

Another open studio? Another First Friday?  Really? My current new project is a series of illustrated notebook pages on Dante’s Inferno and the Underworld.  Not really a high demand there, unless perhaps you are a dead person of the 13th century.  For years I have struggled with the ideas of supply and demand in art.  I saw demand as a corrupting influence, producing Thomas Kincaid cottages, pet rocks, and social media addiction.

“What limits creativity is not the lack of good new memes (i.e., ideas, products, works of art), but the lack of interest in them.  The constraint is not in the supply but in the demand.”

Suzanne Edminster, illustrated notes on Dante, Canto VI. Cerberus was not only a dog, but a snake/serpent monster, a part of the mythic genetics often omitted today.

I know and work with so many amazing artists, most of them unfairly obscure, in my SOFA Santa Rosa neighborhood.  We are everywhere, and we are creating.  The supply is high. You could argue that perhaps we have saturated Sonoma County with our good work.

Csikszentmihalyi says that perhaps the limitations of creativity come from scarcity of attention for the products. “Unfortunately, most attempts to enhance creativity are focused on the supply side, which may not only not work but is likely to make life more miserable for a great number of neglected geniuses.”

He goes on to say, “But usually the necessity of ‘selling’ one’s ideas is seen as something that comes after the creative process ends and is separate from it.  In the systems model, the acceptance of a new meme by the field is seen as an essential part of the creative process [my italics].

This gives me hope.  I always knew there was something wrong with the neglected genius / Van Gogh model, birthing beauty into a silent or hostile void.  I hope that I can joyfully enter the creative stream anywhere, either creating new art or by readying the field for it. Thanks, Mihaly.

More frequent posts

I’ll be posting several times a week now, probably.  Fair warning!  These messages are part of my own creative process.  Later I’ll offer a monthly newsletter format.

If you’re going through an Underworld passage right now– as our whole country is– stay safe.  I’ve seen and heard a lot more random racism and everyday hostility around me than usual.  The decay at the top and the inaccessibility to universal health care is wearing us out.


Saltworkstudio Events and Classes 2019

SOFA Santa Rosa First Fridays 2019, 5-8 PM.  Informal open studios neighborhood-wide. Find me in Backstreet Gallery, down Art Alley behind 312 South A Street, Santa Rosa, CA.  Map here.

First Friday, March 1, 5-8 PM.  Selected SOFA art studios are open; I am.  Drop by to chat.


5 thoughts on “Creative Demand

  1. Great stuff, Suzanne. Your input is like biting into a delicious hand-made food rich with both subtle & eye-popping surprises. You could be the next Márquez or Mistral in writing alone…

    The limitations of sparce appreciation bedevil us continually. Our wresting with this is my torment, for I believe the masses lack the much needed education the upper echelon works hard at eliminating. & so I wrack my brain in computation of how to turn this around from another direction. & still have not grappled this reality to pull it into being. Damn. It’s been a long time…

    Anyway, aside from that, do you know if there are any minutes from our last meeting? Gary, Dan & I are working away at brainstorm & calculation levels, but need the feedback from the last meeting. My notes are scant…. Can you help? I’ll ask Christie as well.

    See you Wednesday at 6pm? Or maybe tonight?



  2. OMG, Suzanne, you are speaking what’s been in my heart and soul for years now. Thank you for your candor in expressing that in our art world, “The emperor has not clothes”. You’re re-energized me to paint what’s inside me–and not necessarily what will sell. Thank you!


    1. Stay well, Sandra! This Dante project has been very healing for me. The Emperor–Pope— in the 13th century had no clothes either. Cathartic to read the journe;y through hell, and see the characters in the inferno still not sorry. Dante is not allowed to hate, but can converse and observe. He gets some satisfaction…


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