Spark: How Creativity Works

"This is a book about joy, drive, and art, work that we're all capable of if we'll only commit."  Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

How did Richard Ford's childhood cat influence his work as a novelist? How is Chuck Close's portraiture driven by his inability to remember faces? What pivotal moment convinced Rosanne Cash that the stage has the power to heal?

Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits -- movies, novels, paintings, songs -- but rarely are we privy to what happens during the creative process. In Spark, Julie Burstein traces the roots of some of the twenty-first century's most influential and creative thinkers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Yo-Yo Ma, David Milch, Isabel Allende, and Joshua Redman.  Julie examines the sources of inspiration and the processes that bring the work into of these artists into being.

"These artists may not change lead into gold," Julie writes, "but they lift materials from their familiar contexts, combining, reshaping, transforming them into works of art that change the way we see the world."

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Critical acclaim for Julie Burstein's Spark: How Creativity Works (Harper 2011)

Vanity Fair: "The act of creating art is eternally shrouded in mystery. For 10 years public radio's Studio 360 show, created and produced by Julie Burstein and hosted by culture-quaking journalist-novelist Kurt Andersen, has revealed the unique sources from which the artist's creativity flows while pinpointing the hot spot 'where art and real life collide.'  In Spark (Harper), Burstein, with a foreword by Andersen, offers enlightening answers from the culture's heavy hitters, including Chuck Close, Yo-Yo Ma, and Richard Ford, on which experiences, memories, tragedies, or landscapes ignited their imaginations, as well as the process by which they stoked these embers into a roaring fire, and how you, yes, you, might too." 

Publisher's Weekly: “Through enlightening conversations, these creative individuals demonstrate how they lift raw materials out of familiar contexts and create art that changes how we perceive the world.” 

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Spark is a beautiful book, enjoyable and filled with life...You will find yourself contemplating the origin of the little lights, the sparks, which show themselves only when someone special looks within.”

San Francisco Review of Books: "As Burstein demonstrates time and again, breakthrough ideas (however brilliant) have their greatest impact when anchored in human experience."

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings: “Spark is an encyclopedia of inspiration plucked from today’s most revered creators, leaving you not with a one-size-fits-all blueprint to creativity but with a petri dish of eclectic insights for you to distill, cross-pollinate and fertilize into a richer understanding of your own creative life.” 

Detroit Free Press: “How better to learn about creativity than to talk with some of the world’s most creative people.”