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‘It is important to understand the nature of the creative process and one’s own creative resources’

Laura Valojärvi's research is the first doctoral thesis on illustration processes in Finland and one of the first doctoral research on the well-being of creative professionals worldwide.
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Photo: Teemu Valojärvi

What is your research about?

I examine creative well-being and the complexity of the creative process from the perspective of picturebook illustrators. I have worked as an illustrator myself for several years. For the study, I interviewed eight other picturebook illustrators.

The conclusions of the study consist of two visual models: the Picturebook Illustration Model and the Cycle of Creative Resources. In addition to a deeper understanding of the book illustration process, my research also opens up issues related to creativity and creative well-being from the perspective of other actors in the creative industries.

In my view, the Cycle of Creative Resources is applicable not only to illustrators but also to other creative industries.

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Laura Valojärvi: Cycle of Creative Resources

What is important in it?

This is the first doctoral thesis on illustration processes in Finland and one of the first doctoral research on the well-being of creative professionals worldwide.

The risk of severe work-related burnout has doubled in Finland in the past five years. Furthermore, recent studies show that people working in the creative industries are almost three times more likely to suffer from mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, than the general population. Yet, there has been surprisingly little discussion of creative professionals who have lost their work motivation and creative spark. My research offers a new way to think about creative resources that will help people to approach, achieve, and sustain creative well-being.

It is typical for creative professionals to “overfish” their creative resources, which easily leads to feelings of unenthusiasm, powerlessness, and even burnout in creative work. My thesis is looking for tools to prevent this from happening.

I propose that creative well-being could be observed as a cycle of six states of creative resources that have been identified in this thesis. Where on the Cycle of Creative Resources creative professionals find themselves has a direct impact on how fulfilling or draining they experience the creative process. How well a creative player learns to navigate with the creative resources strongly influences the experience of the nature of the creative process.

What can it lead to?

I argue that person’s creativity itself does not increase or decrease – creativity is always available. What, instead, increases or decreases are creative resources. This is at the core of creative well-being.

By better understanding the nature of the creative process and one’s own creative resources, creative professionals can learn to consciously strive for those levels in the Cycle of Creative Resources where more natural resources are inherently used. This allows them to feel more balanced, happier and more effective in their creative work.

In my research, I suggest that creative professionals should consciously strive for creative balance and creative flow in their creative process. My dissertation provides ways and tools to identify one’s own state and act based on the situation.

Valojärvi defended her doctoral thesis The Cycle of Creative Resources: The creative process and creative well-being from the perspective of picturebook illustrators in the field of Visual Communication Design at Aalto University 21 April, 2021.

For more information:

Laura Valojärvi, [email protected], tel.+358 45 630 6111

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