“…it is conceivable that the history of art could be viewed as a record of the highest achievements of man's qualitative problem solving behavior.”

— David W. Ecker The Artistic Process as Qualitative Problem Solving

The Idea Enhancement Project is a unique undertaking that explores the use of art as a practical tool for increasing innovative and creative thinking. This project is visionary, but not theoretical — its images are qualitative solutions that are immediately available for “real world” use by everyone. All that is needed is a sustained contemplation of the images.

All artwork is original and free to download for prints, computer wallpaper, or any other use.

Select a piece of art — then take time to live with the artwork and use it as a visual focus to any kind of contemplation. The more you bring to it, the more you will take away.

These images could be the means to unblock your creative stream, start your thoughts traveling in a new direction, or allow you to flow down through memories to a time long forgotten.

The four-part cycle of creating artwork, involving the audience in the project, soliciting feedback, and using this feedback to produce more effective art is achievable in pieces, and flexible enough to present the same artwork in low-cost online platforms or large scale prints in gallery spaces. This approach allows the project to be both expandable and scalable to fit the needs of the venue and any unexpected changes.

However, since the project’s goal is a practical solution, the images are useful only so far as they produces results. I need the feedback of your comments to gauge its effectiveness and improve future pieces of art.

The Idea Enhancement Project is currently creating a fourth round of images.

This project embodies my belief that there is a place in the mind where art and ideas are at the same level — a moment in time that stretches back into memory and dreams, and where connections are most easily made.

One early correspondent questioned, “How is looking at your artwork more beneficial in terms of idea enhancement than staring at clouds or a tide pool?” The answer lies in the differences:

Difference of Intent

The Idea Enhancement images are produced by the intent of the artist, not by chance. The project’s evolving images are designed to stimulate the qualitative world of the mind — evoking a larger world than could ever be represented by the images themselves. Viewing these images is more likely to engage the imagination of the viewer than a series of random occurrences.

Difference of Communication and Understanding

In the Idea Enhancement Project’s research process, there is a human on both sides of the equation and ideas can meet ideas. This allows for a richness of communication and understanding that facilitates the project’s goals. And this flow of conversation through the use of artwork has a greater chance of involving people than an activity requiring the viewer to both initiate a dialogue and respond to it.

Difference of Material

The effectiveness of the viewing material is enhanced through the creation of images designed to maximize the amount of useful “triggers.” While any visual experience may trigger an idea, the Idea Enhancement images are deliberately constructed with many evocative aspects in order to increase their usefulness in this regard.

Difference of Practicality

Benefiting from the visual solutions presented in this project does not require perfect concentration, meditative balance or years of practice and discipline. The project’s images utilize the natural functioning of the human brain to overcome these difficulties and deficiencies — no instruction is required, only a sustained contemplation of the artwork.

Need for Funding

The Idea Enhancement Project is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). NYFA will receive grants on behalf of the Idea Enhancement Project, ensure the use of grant funds in accordance with the grant agreements, and provide program or financial reports as required.

Please donate any amount to the project through the NYFA website. This money will be used to print and mount large pieces of art for display in libraries, cafeterias, and waiting rooms for public feedback, and also for hosting and maintaining the project website and digital storage of images.

— Doug Baird, January, 2018