MFA Thesis: How Creative People Think

Thesis Abstract CoverHow Creative People Think is my 75-page MFA thesis from Syracuse University. It has aged on my bookshelf for 33 years until one of my graduate students asked why it wasn’t available for researchers and, ahem, interested students. So I spent a week digitizing it and updating the images – what else is a spring break for? – and uploaded it here and on ResearchGate, an academic reference and research portal that produces for me a couple of thousand hits a week. My global academic colleagues now have from me a sixteenth document to chew up. Bon appétit!


The purpose of this thesis is to provide background material for a college level class in creativity and the conception of ideas.

What follows are excerpts from a series of personal interviews conducted in January 1983. All of the subjects interviewed specialize in and are widely known for their creative disciplines, from drama and music composition to architecture, advertising, illustration and type design.

How to think is a subject that must be looked at obliquely: it must be examined with respect to a particular subject. By using advertising design as this medium, I intend to reintroduce students to the difficult tasks of thinking and problem-solving. Approached from a fresh angle, it is my goal to guide them to an increased ability to generate multiple, uncommon and potent ideas at will.