PCMA Education Conference

Does Creativity Have an Expiration Date?

Nope, says artist Phil Hansen. In fact, age gives us unexpected benefits.

When artist Phil Hansen developed a tremor in on hand, he thought that his art career had come to an end. As he told attendees at PCMA’s Education Conference in June, Hansen eventually found his way to a doctor who told him the nerve damage was permanent — and gave him some life-changing advice: “Embrace the shake.”

Phil Hansen

As he was trying to figure out what that meant, the artist said, he experimented with scribbling, a technique that incorporated the shaking in his hand. Not only was the new style successful artistically, “from there, I actually started to open up and see that limitations have the potential to drive creativity,” he said. Hansen now works in ways that are so imaginative that a writer for Wired magazine described him as “working so far out of the box that there is not even a box.”

Hansen’s interactive session — he led attendees through drawing exercises that were incorporated into a collaborative work of art — was embraced by attendees who seemed ready to break free of their own perceived limitations.

Such as the idea that our creative powers wane as we age — a topic that Hansen and an attendee spoke about after his session. It turns out that, just as Hansen’s tremor carried an unexpected gift, so does aging. Hansen explains why that is so in the video above. 

So what’s your shake? And how are you embracing it? 

More on Hansen is available here. His PCMA Education Conference session is available online to subscribers.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.