Book Review: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

My favorite Disney movie is The Lion King and my favorite Pixar film is Up. That was my way of breaking the ice at the latest book club meeting upon suggesting that we all share our favorite Disney and Pixar films.

Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar so the book started off talking more about Pixar but as a child he was very much inspired by Walt Disney’s work and did discuss the cultural differences between the two places he observed upon becoming president of Disney as well. I also have a lot of respect for Catmull for continuing to keep Disney and Pixar separate from one another (ie. not utilizing help from either side when things get tough).

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Click here to buy the book Creativity Inc.
As someone who has been on the receiving end of the completed Disney or Pixar films, I do now have a newfound appreciation for how much work and time commitment it takes to finish an animated film. And I agree with the dedication Catmull believes in doing research on your subject matter. It was impressive to know that the Pixar employees took up archery lessons for the making of Brave or the visits to college campuses to create the campus vibe in Monsters University.

It was also interesting to read about what the original story line was before the films became what they eventually evolved into or how titles are chosen for the films (or how the name “Pixar” was chosen, for that matter!) The experience is almost like a literary version of a behind-the-scenes documentary.

There was an extensive portrayal of Steve Jobs in the book, which was different from when I read about him in his authorized biography by Walter Isaacson. It was an account of his relationship with Steve so it’s also a particular era of Steve’s life. And the way he seemed to be viewed at Apple in Isaacson’s book was a controlling difficult man which was very polar to how he was viewed as being laissez-faire with Pixar. To be fair, Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple whereas he was an investor of Pixar and chose to believe in Catmull and John Lasseter’s  vision for the company so I think it’s only natural that he acted the way he did.

As evident by this blog, I too am a being who thrives on expressing my creativity. Whether it’s my writing, cooking, or fashion choices – I love to be my artsy self. And I don’t always play it safe – I think it’s a given if you are continuing to be creative. You can of course still continue to create without being creative. But creating and being creative are different things.

However, I think the importance of continuing to enjoy creating should not be discounted and one should not stop him/herself from creating out of the fear of not being “creative enough.” I think Elizabeth Gilbert put it well when she inspired me to write my own book upon reading her book Big Magic where she talks about the special and unique touch we give things even when we do things that have been done before. And as Catmull put it, every Pixar film starts off as an “ugly baby.”

So here’s to letting our fabulous freak flags fly ever so freely,

M

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