When you think of data, the concept of creativity is not likely to come up during a word association game. However, data and creativity need each other. The process of coming up with an idea that people will discuss, debate, like, and share with their friends touches many facets, and creativity is at the top of the list.

We freely admit, however, that data science might not be perceived as the most creative of pursuits. Professionals load data into a repository, crunch it, and on the other end, draw conclusions. With nothing but data in and information out, where are the possibilities for creativity?

One definition of creativity is drawing something from nothing. This requires an incredible amount of imagination, and an ability to see a deeper conclusion behind what is obvious is the hallmark of a creative data professional.

There are obvious places where creativity is expected. In the world of marketing and advertising, where the task is building brands to engage individuals to seek businesses, it is imperative to keep up with the flood of newly available media arriving through digital channels and devices, each of which creates its own unique stream of information.

There is also data-driven art – an artistic practice that relies on the usage of a dataset to convey emotions to the audience. Because it is based on data, the piece has a more objective truth behind its construction and does not solely come from the artist’s imagination.

In addition, to be considered data art, the data used to create the piece should be somewhat understandable by the audience and accompanied with proper explanations, for the case where the meaning is not apparent at first glance. It contrasts with both data visualization, which aims to be an effective rendering of data into human readable, graph-like, visual elements, and generative art, which relies on the randomness often found in nature to elicit emotions.

Most data artworks are realizations of or collections of data-based visual artifacts, including images, videos, and interactive pieces. Data art, however, is not necessarily limited to a screen or vision.

‍Many successful people are innovative thinkers who can mold and present data in unique and unexpected ways. It is important to remember that creativity with data requires diving under the surface past the obvious, and it can require courage to present findings to a less-than-accepting audience. Those creative enough to suggest the less-than-obvious to the trained eye must be prepared to tap into an inner brave lion.

If finding an intersection between data and creativity is difficult, creating new opportunities might be the only next step. As more and more creative communications take digital form, there are more and more possibilities to organically build into them creative data collection opportunities. The challenge is to deliver what the consumer values while seamlessly adding behavior-shaping experiences in authentic and organic-seeming ways.

Albert Einstein found inspiration in playing his violin, so why is it such a stretch for data scientists to exploit that which gets their creative juices flowing? When they do, they often find the most amazing solutions to the challenges that they face.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.