diagram of creative processes

Explanatory Diagrams of Creative Process

This NSF-funded study detailed the creative work practices of artists and engineers working on similar technologies, used study data to find patterns of creative process across the arts and engineering, and synergistically combined these in a project–based course, "Integrated Art and Engineering", taught at Georgia Tech in the Fall of 2012. Results of the course contributed to the design of a new invention course by Vice Provost Ray Vito for freshman students at Georgia Tech. I authored the NSF proposal for this study, was the lead researcher, and created and designed the course. Professor Jay David Bolter was the PI and Professor Juan Rogers was the co–PI.

A main result of this study was the comparative descriptions of creative process:

Teleological processes are most often, but not exclusively, found in engineering and computer science development projects. Teleological processes begin with as detailed a design as possible. This design is then projected forward in time to the end state, or telos, of the project. The telos pulls the project forward, guiding and constraining its development. Teleological processes reduce the uncertainty inherent in the creative process, maximize probabilities of safety and success, optimize parameters, and are easily communicable. They stabilize a project and support predictable progress. As much knowledge about the project domain as possible is valued at the beginning of the process, so that the detailed telos can be constructed.

Stochastic processes Stochastic process were most often, but not exclusively, found in arts contexts. Stochastic processes are non–deterministic walks through a space of possibilities. Instead of explicitly converging to a specified design as in teleological processes, stochastic processes are constrained within a subset of resolutions determined by metaphor and experience. Knowledge and learning develop as the process unfolds in unfamiliar territories. The exploratory nature of stochastic processes can lead to emergent designs; however, stochastic processes carry more uncertainty than teleological processes. The practitioner must develop an internal compass of authenticity in order to weather the vagaries of a nondeterministic creative path.

In our study, these processes typically were not absolute, though the engineers employed more teleological processes, while the artists typically employed stochastic processes. When the engineers in our study used stochastic processes, they made emergent contributions to their design.

This research provides a framework for organizing creative work as individuals, collaborators, and educators. One interesting aspect of these results is that when engineers use creative practices usually ascribed to artmaking, they can make emergent discoveries. The catch is that the practitioners have to be able to navigate these more stochastic processes well, and the best way to do this is to have practice and confidence in them. Hence the value of art education.


Qualitative Analysis of Creative Practices in Parallel IT and Art Projects, National Science Foundation CreativeIT program, 2010. 18% acceptance rate. $226,495.
Foley Scholarship, a research excellence award and the highest honor awarded a graduate student by the GVU (Graphics, Visualization, and Usability) Center at Georgia Tech, 2012.


Articulating Creative Practice: Teleological and Stochastic Strategies in a Case Study of an Artist and an Engineering Team Developing Similar Technologies Authors: Fantauzzacoffin, J., Rogers, J.D., Bolter, J.D. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI 2012, Kingston, Ontario), 2012.
Negotiating Uncertainty: Process, Artifact and Discourse in a Case Study of Technologies to Address SIDS Authors: Fantauzzacoffin, J., Rogers, J.D., Bolter, J.D. In Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creativity and Innovation in Design (DESIRE 2011, Eindhoven, Netherlands), 2011.
Creative Strategies in Artists’ and Engineers’ Approaches to Technology Development: First Results of a Case Study Authors: Fantauzzacoffin, J., Rogers, J.D., Bolter, J.D. A two page poster paper in Proceedings of the Eighth ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition (C&C 2011, Atlanta, GA), 2011.

Invited Lectures

Creative Process in Art and Engineering, or Why We Need Arts Education Brigham Young University, 2014.


The Dynamics of Artist Innovation Arts and Technology Workshop, Cooperation in Science & Technology Office of the European Science Foundation, Zagreb, Croatia, 2013.
Art, Engineering and Invention Technarte: The International Conference for Art & Technology, Bilbao, Spain, 2011.
Art, Technology and Institutional Discourse International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA 2011), Istanbul, Turkey, 2011.


map of a teleological process

Map of a Teleological Process

map of a stochastic process

Map of a Stochastic Process