Remarks from Ann Morhauser, CEO and Designer of Annieglass and one of the hosts of our local advocacy launch breakfast in Santa Cruz County.

Artists do not fall fully-formed from the sky ready to create the next Mona Lisa or your next smart phone, computer, gadget, cancer cure, bridge, car, sunscreen, seat belt, MRI, solar panel, wine, ATM… They need to be taught, trained, nurtured, given room, space and time to develop their own personal vocabulary to be able to interpret and communicate their vision.

Any invention requires more than engineering. Innovation requires imagination, the ability to construct and deconstruct unhindered, analysis, and creativity. Vital to any sort of artistic development is both the nerve to carry it out and the freedom to fail.

As an artist, I am constantly made aware of my “uniqueness at also being good at business.” Well I did not learn business at art school (although I do advise the first MBA program of its kind at California College of the Arts, my alma mater, so students can) but I did learn to problem solve there. A blank canvas intimidates most people- to others it’s a blank page to control their characters when writing a story or start over layer by layer anew with better imagery or write the music exactly as they hear it , starting over until they get it right. Often our best work is done letting the creative process take over. We become more willing to experiment once our initial idea has been deconstructed and we are led to a fresh and unexplored possibility.

This is where I learned my coping skills. . . in art school, then in business.  Rarely does anything turn out the way I originally envision it. Rather than fight it, I adjust and make it work within new parameters. It is as challenging a problem to solve as the first one but it is the right problem to solve rather than wasting any more time on the one I made for myself.  It took a long time to adapt that way but enough failures did the trick.

I started my small glassware company with a $200 kiln and whatever free glass I could scrounge from the bin of a local glass shop. When I finally got the nerve and barely the money to buy the first ton of glass, I watched it being delivered right through the decking in front of my studio, under the landlord’s alarmed and - from then on - ever watchful eye.

I didn’t know what I was doing but I was willing to try. I had more passion then experience, maybe more talent than smarts but I adapted because I had to. If it were easy, everybody would do it.

Years later, my work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and I have consistently employed as many as 32 people in my community. Annieglass can be found in most major cities in the US as well as Europe and Asia.

When I design something new, there are myriad criteria that must be met -- from getting FDA approval,  making sure its fragility, size and weight meet affordable packing and shipping requirements, that it be dishwasher safe, figuring out how it will be photographed, marketed, sold, displayed, purchased, used, and look fresh and orginal. . .oh yeah but it was inspired by a starfish or a bracelet. This is called creative thinking, a current trend in business, used to nurture innovation at companies worldwide.

Similar to the old business dictate “Find a need and fill it" and follow it all the way through. Identify a problem and solve it - then go out and make the product that solves the problem. Sort of a more sustainable version of “Find a need and fill it.”

Tell me how science and math work without creativity, without passion? Stop promoting science and math at the expense of art….instead teach science and math using art.

Where does that tenacity come from…can it be taught? It is mandatory.

What do you think is going to get us out of this recession? What is the miracle product, invention, industry yet to be discovered to create American jobs? Are the students of today - the inventors of tomorrow - being prepared to succeed in a world that desperately needs the leadership?

Given the current movement towards eliminating the arts in the classroom, for the sake of emphasizing science and math, where is creativity being taught today?