Principles of Product Design

Consuming Creativity

Consuming Creativity

The business potential surrounding pre-existing communities of artists, musicians and designers.

I’m sitting at our office listening to a band I’ve never heard of that Spotify recommended. The UPS man comes in and delivers a “house accent” for my co-worker from It’s a ceramic buffalo or some other whimsical and in my opinion ridiculous sculpture made by a craftsperson in Brooklyn. The back wall of our office is covered from floor to ceiling with planks from discarded wooden pallets, an idea that our decorator most likely discovered and pinned on Pinterest.

The underlying theme of this admittedly vapid story is that our everyday “user experience” is mediated by digital products and services facilitating our discovery, purchase and consumption of things made by individuals engaging in a creative process. Some of these products/services include: Spotify, Pandora,, Etsy, Pinterest, Netflix, Hulu, Tunaspot, GetArtUpKickStarter, Gertrude, Curiator, Songza, Bandpage, Lanyard, Track 8,RichSeam, Qusic, Sonarflow, Timbre


While I’ve not conducted extensive user research into this topic, I’d guess the value propositions for users with the majority of these companies include:

  1. Allowing users to easily and intuitively identify, purchase and savor content they already enjoy or have a high likelihood of liking.
  2. Providing a hopeful pathway for discovering something new that they will most likely find enjoyable or intriguing.
  3. Allowing for connection and conversation with friends about the content they are discovering or consuming.
  4. Providing a medium for connection and communication between artist and consumer/fan.

This morning, I wonder whether there‘s something worth exploring around witnessing the creative process in pre-existing communities of creative individuals. Currently, it seems most platforms encourage users to connect with specific artists individually thus placing emphasis on the consumer-artist relationship trying to make it feel more personal or one-on-one. I’m curious if there’s an opportunity for both consumers and artists by focusing on the relationship between consumer and creative community? Anecdotally, most creatives I know are part of close-knit and intriguing communities of fellow creatives that collectively explore and make things that are not eventually “published.” Along this vein, some questions I have include:

  1. Are a significant number of people interested in witnessing conversations, throwaway pieces, musings and bizarre side projects of communities of artists, musicians, architects and designers?
  2. How much would people be willing to pay to have access to this process, to be a witness?
  3. Would communities of creative individuals be willing to openly communicate and document what they are doing? Would they be able to garner a substantial following?

Some food for thought for a hump day (Wednesday if that phraseology is not as common as I think it is). For what it’s worth, below are some collectives of creative individuals whose collaborations, musings and throwaway pieces I would have paid to witness.


Harper Lee, Truman Capote and Andy Warhol


C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and
Owen Barfield


Mary Shelly, Lord Byron and John William Polidori


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