Arts & Humanities, General Humanities; Design thinking, Art thinking, Creativity, Strategy, Fine Art, Printmaking
This article uses a contemporary and revelatory case study to explore the relationship between three conversations in the innovation literature: design thinking, creativity in strategy and, the emerging area of art-thinking. Businesses are increasingly operating in a VUCA environment where they need to design better experiences for their customers and better outcomes for their firm and the Arts are no exception. Innovation, or more correctly growth through innovation, is a top priority for business and although there is no single, unifying blueprint for success at innovation, design thinking is the process that is receiving most attention and getting most traction. Design thinking teaches businesses to think with the creativity and intuition of a designer; to show a deep understanding of; and have empathy with the user. But design thinking has limitations. By placing the consumer at the very heart of the innovation process, design thinking can often lead to more incremental than radical ideas. Now there is a new perspective emerging, art-thinking, in which the objective is not to design a journey from current scenario; A to improved position: B. Art thinking requires the creation of B and spends more time in the open ended, problem space, staking out possibilities and looking for uncontested space. In Dublin, we examine a case of the oldest, largest and most prestigious fine art gallery and studio where most of the country’s best-known and successful visual artists both make, exhibit and sell their art. Graphic Studio Dublin is primarily a printmaking studio, established by artists over 60 years ago. It has facilities for woodblock, lino-print, silkscreen, intaglio and carborundum etching spread over four floors of a centrally located studio where the artists have access 24/7. But two years ago it found itself on the brink of collapse having borrowed heavily to invest in new facilities during the period of Ireland’s economic collapse. Its loans were sold to a vulture-fund who were about to foreclose in a move that would have seen a generation of Irish Artists displaced. A new board of directors was empaneled and they introduced some art thinking principles to bring the organisation back from the brink. They used an art-thinking mindset and design thinking tools to restore the fortunes of this venerable, artist-led institution and it worked.