Creativity and the Brain; training your creativity with JWT’s Bas Korsten

Creativity in advertising and marketing is our lifeblood, our muse and our skill. We call people creatives, and feel that those on the top were born with creativity flowing through their veins.

Many may feel that they can only watch and support those that are extremely gifted in being creative, but what if it is something anyone can grow? Self-growth through training and experience is still an important element in how we can become more than what we are today, so why can’t the same be applied to creativity?

We talked with Bas Korsten, JWT Amsterdam’s Creative Partner, to talk about the science behind the brain and creativity, and if it is possible to actually train ourselves to be better at harnessing creativity. Korsten will also be covering the subject during this year’s Dubai Lynx.


So, your talk at this year’s Dubai Lynx is called “Creativity and the Brain,” could you tell us a little bit about it?

“Technology is quickly changing the world as we know it. A lot of emphasis in our industry is placed on what technology means for efficiently connecting with people.

But less emphasis is placed on what technology, in this case neuroscience, can mean for human creativity, which is still the deciding factor in our industry.”


What interests you so much about the brain and creativity that you feel you want to share with everyone?

“Every day we learn new things on how the brain works. How it is stimulated, how it tricks us, how we can improve it.

Together with experts, I’ve set up a research with 8 different interventions that we can do to enhance human creativity.

For sports people, it’s logical to train their body hours on end. [So,] why aren’t creatives training their brain for peak performances?”


What is the most interesting habit you’ve heard someone do that has helped them train their creative muscles?

“The one that was a big eyeopener for me, was when I started to use the Waze App in traffic. A highly responsive app that always finds the best, shortest route for you. It got me new driving routes to work. And I noticed I started coming in to the office fresher, more alert.”

Having different scenery every day keeps your brain flexible. As soon as you get in a routine, creativity starts dying.


Which side of the nature vs nurture debate on creativity are you on? Why?

“On both actually. There are higher and lower creative people. That has to do with how your brain is wired.

Your ability to switch between different parts in the brain, the size of the grey matter. But at the same time, you can train your brain. Grow new brain cells, increase flexibility etc.

So, it’s nature and nurture.”


As a creative, how do you fight against the pressure to be creative, and actually just be creative?

“Over the years I’ve learned to trust my brain.

Often times, ideas come to me when I’m in bed and the light has just been switched off. That resting state is very fertile ideas ground. During the day I’m much too engulfed in mails, meetings and apps flying back and forth. But recently, based on my new learnings, I force myself to get out of the office routines to keep my mind fresh and sharp.”


How would you suggest people can start training themselves to be in the best state of mind to come up with better or more creative ideas?

“As I said, we’re looking at 8 different interventions. From micro-dosing to dieting, from neurofeedback to yoga and from opposing views to cardio. From those, cardio has proven to yield the biggest result in sharpening your brain. And making it more flexible, i.e. creative. But more evidence to come soon.”


What new technologies or innovations do you believe can help creatives further their journey in finding the ever-elusive creativity or creative inspiration?

I think technology will provide us with so many ways to boost our creativity. But I think it all starts with becoming more aware that you can influence your own creativity.


Lastly, what should festival goers expect to learn or understand by going to your talk?

“Creativity is not stagnant. You can grow it. And I’ll give you a few tips and pointers how to.”


You can learn more about Korsten’s tips at this year’s Dubai Lynx, and you can meet him in person during his networking session “MEET UP: Experts vs Beginners – Tech-enabled Creativity” next week.

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