Boring offices dampen creativity claims report

Recent research has confirmed the suspicions of many frustrated workers by finding boring offices can have a negative effect on creativity.

A survey of 2,000 office workers, carried out by Overbury, discovered one in three employees felt their workplace was ‘demotivating’. Around a quarter of respondents described their working environment as “sedate and silent”.

One in ten even described their office as “a creative and cultural desert”. Many respondents (35%) said they liked to work from home ‘whenever possible’; citing an uninspiring office as their main reason for doing so.

When employees were asked how their offices could be improved, the most common response was found to be creating a ‘more social space’. Many said this was because inspiration often comes from chatting with colleagues.

A band of chilly workers said they would most like better heating in their office, which was the second most popular answer. Other frequently-mentioned improvements were better furniture, more access to refreshments and better coffee.

Anthony Brown, a director at Overbury, said: “At a time when organizations in the UK are looking to their staff to drive innovation and competitive advantage, it is worrying to hear that so many employees are lacking the tools they need to be creative.

“Organisations are missing a golden opportunity to foster greater ideas generation by putting creative collaboration and social interaction at the heart of their office design.”

Just because your job tasks may be a bit boring doesn’t mean your work environment has to match. Corporate Artworks will help you discover a wonderfully creative and enriching environment for you and your staff to focus, work and grow together.

Schedule an appointment to speak with a customer service representative for more information regarding our services or to answer any questions you may have. This is a 5-10 minute assessment to find out more about your needs and how our Art Consultants can help you with your project. If you would like immediate assistance, please feel free to call our office at (847) 843-3636 or contact us via email on our Contact Us page.


Ames, Peter. Boring offices dampen creativity claims report. Date Accessed 11-5-19

ThrowBack Thursday! #TBT

This month’s ThrowBack Thursday features a project that we completed in 2009 with a company called Curran Group located in Crystal Lake, IL. The Curran Group is a family-owned and operated holding company. In 2009, Corporate Artworks had the pleasure of working with the Curran Group to complete the artwork program for their new offices in Crystal Lake where their headquarters for both their holding company as well as their construction division, Curran Contracting still reside today. Thank you Curran Group for working with us! We can’t believe 10 years have gone by so quickly!


Seasonal Affective Disorder and How Office Decor Can Help

For those of you living and working in a climate as we do at our headquarters in Chicago, you can relate to this comic. The need to feel the warmth and adding a few fun or bright items to your surroundings during the dreary winter months can help you battle Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Hanging up colorful artwork or accessories establishes a refreshing and inspirational space that supports creative thinking. Colors like green and red have psychological benefits that help you be in the right state of mind to work. Avoid grey, dull spaces and try working in warm, colorful areas with cozy elements like lounge seating.

Please contact us today to speak with one of our Art Consultants about refreshing your office artwork program.

Phone: 847-843-3636

The aesthetic attitude to art

Harvard researcher’s latest book explores how and why we react to it

Ellen Winner ’69, Ph.D. ’78, BI ’99 concentrated in English at Radcliffe, but she’d always planned to be an artist. She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts after college to study painting but soon realized “it was not the life I wanted.” Instead, Winner turned her focus to psychology, earning her doctorate at Harvard.

A summer job listing at the University’s career office led her to the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, where she interviewed with her future husband, Howard Gardner — currently the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and the senior director of the project — and took a two-year position researching the psychology of art. For her doctoral degree at the Graduate School of  Arts and Sciences, Winner studied developmental psychology. She is currently a senior research associate at Project Zero and a professor of psychology at Boston College, where she founded and directs the Arts and Mind Lab, which focuses on cognition in the arts in typical and gifted children as well as adults. Her latest book, “How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration,” is based on years of research at both Harvard and BC, and looks at art through psychological and philosophical lenses. The Gazette spoke with her recently about her findings.


Ellen Winner

GAZETTE: Why do we need art?

WINNER: It’s interesting to note that the arts have been with us since the earliest  humans — long before the sciences — and no one has ever discovered a culture without one or more forms of art. Evolutionary psychologists have postulated various ways in which natural selection could explain why we have art. For example, fiction allows us to safely practice interpersonal relationships and those with strong interpersonal skills are more likely to mate and spread their genes. Sexual selection could also be at work: Artists might attract mates because artistic talent might signal high reproductive fitness. There is no way of testing such claims, though. My best guess is that art itself is not a direct product of natural selection, but is a byproduct of our bigger brains — which themselves evolved for survival reasons. Art is just something we cannot help but do. While we may not need art to survive, our lives would be entirely different without it. The arts are a way of making sense of and  understanding ourselves and others, a form of meaning-making just as important as are the sciences.

GAZETTE: In your book you suggest that people have stronger emotional reactions to music than to the visual arts. Why?

WINNER: Of course, we do respond emotionally to both music and visual art, but  people report stronger emotional responses to music. I have asked my students to look at a painting for one uninterrupted hour and write down everything they are seeing and thinking (inspired by Jennifer Roberts, art historian at Harvard, who asked her students to do this for three hours). The students wrote about all of the things they started to notice, but strikingly absent was any mention of emotions. They reported being mesmerized by the experience but no one talked about being close to tears, something people often report with music.

There seem to be several reasons for music eliciting stronger emotional reactions than the visual arts. The experience of music unrolls over time, and often quite a long time. A work of visual art can be perceived at a glance and people typically spend very little time with each work of art they encounter in a museum. We can turn away from a painting, but we can’t turn away from music, and so a painting doesn’t envelop us in the same way music does. In addition, music, but not visual art, makes us feel like moving, and moving to music intensifies the emotional reaction. One of the most powerful explanations for the emotional power of music has to do with the fact that the same  properties that universally convey emotion in the voice (tempo, volume, regularity, etc.) also convey emotion in music. Thus, for example, a  slow tempo in speech and music is typically perceived as sad, a loud and uneven tempo as agitated, etc. The visual arts do not have such a connection to emotion. Movies may be the most powerful art form in eliciting emotion since they unfold over time, tell a story, and of course include music.

GAZETTE: Can you talk more about your studies involving a person’s ability to  distinguish between artwork by an abstract master and a painting done by a monkey with a paintbrush and palette?

WINNER: We were interested in the often-heard claim about abstract art that, “My  kid could have done that.” We wanted to find out whether people really cannot tell the difference between preschool art and the works of great abstract expressionists like Hans Hofmann or Willem de Kooning. We also threw animal art into the mix: Chimps and monkeys and elephants have been given paint brushes laden with paint, and they often make charming, childlike markings — with the experimenter taking the paper away when the experimenter deems it “finished.” My former doctoral student Angelina Hawley-Dolan created 30 pairs of paintings in which she matched  works by abstract expressionists with works by children and animals —  matched so that the members of each pair were superficially similar in color and composition and kinds of brush strokes. In a series of studies, we showed people these pairs and asked them to decide which work was better, which they liked more, and which was done by an artist rather than a child or animal. Sometimes we unpaired the works and asked people the same questions when they were presented one at a time.

“When you hear someone say, ‘My kid could have done that,’ you can say, ‘Not so!’”

We found in each study that people unschooled in abstract expressionism selected the artists’ works as better and more liked, identified them as by artists rather than animals and children, and did this at a rate significantly above chance. Even when we tried to trick people (mislabeling the child work as by an artist and the artist work  as by a child or animal), people recognized the actual artist’s work as the better work of art, uninfluenced by the false label. In addition, working with a computer scientist, we showed that a deep learning algorithm was able to learn to differentiate works by artists versus by children and animals, and succeeded at the same rate of correctness as did humans. And so, when you hear someone say, “My kid could have done that,” you can say, “Not so!”

GAZETTE: What do you think was going on?

WINNER: To get at this we asked another group of people to look at each of the 60  paintings, 30 by the preschoolers and animals and 30 by the great artists, one at a time and randomly ordered. We asked them to rate each work in terms of how intentional it looked, and how much visual structure they saw. The works by the artists were on average rated as more intentional and higher in visual structure. When we asked people why they thought the artists’ paintings were better works of art, they gave us mentalistic answers, saying things like, “It looks more planned” or, “It looks more thought-out.” So, it appears that we make a clear discrimination: We perceive artists’ abstract paintings as highly planned, and those by children and animals as unplanned and somewhat random. Tellingly, we found that some paintings by artists were incorrectly identified as by children or animals, and these turned out  to be the ones that had been rated as low in intentionality and structure. Our conclusion is that people see more in abstract art than they think they see. They can see the mind behind the work.

GAZETTE: You mention that art that evokes negative emotions can also be positive thing. Can you explain?

WINNER: We gravitate toward art that depicts tragic or horrifying events (think of  paintings by Hieronymus Bosch or Lucian Freud, whose portraits are often distorted and somewhat grotesque); we flock to sad or suspenseful or horrifying movies or plays or novels; we listen to music that conveys grief. Given how we strive to avoid feelings of sorrow and terror and horror in our personal lives, this presents us with a paradox — one that interested philosophers such as Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume. This puzzle is resolved by studies showing that when we view  something as art, any negative feelings about the content are matched by positive ones. For instance, one study demonstrated that presentin photographs of disgusting things like rotting food either as art  photography or illustrations to teach people about hygiene led to different reactions: Those who viewed the images as art reported positive feelings along with the negative ones; those who viewed them as  hygiene illustrations reported only negative feelings. Other studies have shown that people report being highly moved by art with negative content, and the experience of feeling moved combines negative affect with an equal level of positive affect. In short, we can allow ourselves to be moved by tragedy and horror in art because it is not about us; we have entered a fictional world of virtual reality. And the experience  of being moved by such works is not only pleasurable, but can also be highly meaningful as we reflect on the nature of our feelings.

GAZETTE: You also explore how theater can inspire empathy.

WINNER: We often hear that the arts are good for our children because they make  them more empathetic. But this is the kind of claim that ought to be closely examined. Is there truth to this claim, and if so does it apply to all the arts? My former doctoral student Thalia Goldstein, now an assistant professor at George Mason University, reasoned that it is in acting that empathy is most likely to be nurtured. She directed a longitudinal study of children and adolescents involved in acting classes over the course of a year, comparing them to students taking visual arts classes. At the end of the year, the acting students in both age groups had gained more than the visual arts students on a self-report empathy scale, and the adolescent acting students had also grown stronger in perspective-taking. These results have the plausible explanation that acting entails stepping into different characters’ shoes over and over, practicing seeing the world from another’s eyes.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the arts and empathy. Does reading fiction or watching a drama on stage have the same effect as enacting fictional characters? And if so, can any of these experiences change people’s behaviors (in the direction of greater compassion), or do they just change people’s ability to identify and mirror what others are feeling? The answer is not obvious. William James asked us to  consider a person at the theater weeping over the fate of a fictional character onstage while unconcerned about her freezing coachman waiting outside in the snow. It is possible that when we expend our empathy on fictional characters, we feel we have paid our empathy dues. This fascinating problem cries out for further research, which I hope to be able to do.

GAZETTE: After all of your research, have you landed on any concise definition of what art is?

WINNER: Since philosophers have been unable to agree on a definition of art that  involves necessary and sufficient features, I certainly do not think that I will come up with one! Art will never be defined in a way that will distinguish all things we do and do not call art. Art is a mind-dependent concept: There is no litmus test to decide whether something is or is not art (as opposed to whether some liquid is or is not water). Our minds group together the things we call art despite the fact that no two instances of “art” need share any features. And artists are continually challenging our concept of what counts as art, making the concept impossible ever to close.

But philosophers such as Nelson Goodman, who was the founder of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education — a group that had a deep influence on my thinking — had something profound to say about this. Don’t ask, “What is art?”; rather, ask, “When is art?” Anything can be treated as art or not. And when we treat something as art, we attend to it in a special way — for example, noting its surface  formal features and its nonliteral expressive features as part of the many meanings of the work. So maybe we can’t define art, but we can specify what it means to adopt an aesthetic attitude. And while elephants and chimps may make “art,” and while birds may make “music,” I am confident that humans are the only creatures who step back from something they are making to decide how it looks or sounds and how it  should be altered — in short, to adopt that aesthetic attitude.


Walsh, Colleen.(April 2, 2019)The aesthetic attitude to artRetrieved from

Art Consultants Help Advance Artists’ Careers

Some artists are great at promoting themselves, finding buyers, and generating attention to their careers. Hats off to them. For many other artists, however, having a middleman speak on behalf of their work is vital to their careers.

That middleman can be an agent or dealer (or gallery). That person might also be an art consultant. At times, art consultants are gallery owners and even museum curators who advise individuals and companies in the area of decorating or building a collection on the side. Those who are free agents, only serving the interests of their clients, generally don’t have galleries and or represent particular artworks or artists; rather, they tend to work from their offices or homes, maintaining information (bios, slides, press clippings) on a variety of different artists whose work may be of interest to particular clients. Most focus exclusively on contemporary artworks created by living artists — while others will hunt through all styles and periods, depending upon the interests and budgets of their clients. “Our criteria for selection revolves around our clients’ tastes,” said Josetta Sbeglia, an art consultant in St. Louis, Missouri. “We hope we like it, too.”

These clients are a mix of private collectors, corporations, law firms, and health care facilities. “The healthcare industry is growing, and hospitals see the value of art and creating spaces that are more pleasant,” said Talley Fischer, a sculptor in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, who has been commissioned to create large installations for a variety of health care facilities through art consultants hired by these institutions, who usually are brought in to help these institutions find artworks when in the process of building new or renovating existing spaces. Fischer noted that she promotes herself directly to art consultants.

Many companies prefer using outside consultants — finding expertise through people who are members of the Association of Professional Art Advisors, for instance, although quite a few advisors who are not APAA members or work as gallery owners also offer their assistance to private and corporate clients – to hiring their own in-house curators as a cost-savings move. These companies look to acquire artwork, because “art in offices enriches the lives of the people who work there,” said Laura Solomon, an art advisor in New York City, who not only helps her clients purchase artwork, but will take charge of framing or installing pieces in the offices, rotating existing artworks around the offices from the collection and even putting together special exhibitions from it.

Consultants learn of artists in a variety of ways: They attend exhibitions at galleries, as well as at art fairs and juried competitions; they receive recommendations from other artists; they go to open studio events; and they are contacted directly by the artists, through the postal service, telephone or e-mail. Some consultants encourage artists to send them material, while others do not — it makes sense to inquire by telephone or letter what, if anything, a particular consultant is interested in seeing before mailing a portfolio. Lorinda Ash, a New York City art dealer, and consultant said that “I get phone calls, faxes and emails from artists all the time, but that’s not how I ever become interested in an artist. I find artists through going to galleries.”

On the other hand, Jennifer Wood-Patrick, an art consultant at the firm of Art Advisory Boston in Massachusetts, welcomes receiving material from artists but noted that “we have a limited amount of time for telephone conversations and sorting through packages sent by artists.” She prefers emails from artists that describe who they are and include images.

“Tom is very busy, so I try not to bother him with things he won’t be interested in.” The Tom in question is Tom James, executive chairman of Raymond James Financial, an investment and wealth management company, and he and his wife Mary select all of the artwork – 2,400 pieces and growing – that adorn the one million square feet of office space at its St. Petersburg, Florida headquarters. The person trying not to bother him too much is Emily Kapes, curator of the art collection, who identifies the type of artwork (80 percent two-dimensional and the rest sculptural works in bronze, glass, and stone) that often represent images of the American West and wildlife. She receives telephone calls, postal mail, and email from artists and galleries around the country, all offering their artwork for purchase. “I can filter out the artists that usually wouldn’t be collected,” she said, “and, otherwise, pass things along to Tom. Tom is known for supporting living artists.”

Emily Nixon, a Chicago-based art advisor, too, receives numerous communications from artists, but she tends to rely less on submissions from people she has never heard of (“I find that artists may not know what corporations want, and many are unfamiliar with contracts and pricing,” she said) and more through visiting art gallery exhibitions, art fairs, auctions and receiving recommendations from people (artists, dealers, auctioneers) with whom she has had a long-time association. The artists who are of greatest interest to her “should be in a gallery and have had numerous sales.” It doesn’t hurt if these artists have sold work in the past to other corporations, although that is less significant than the fact that they are represented in a gallery.

Corporate Artworks is a premier art consulting firm, women-owned and in business since 1988. Our facility in Arlington Heights Illinois is a showroom, design gallery, and framing operation that staffs 20 creative individuals. Our newest facility is in Nashville, TN, and staffs 6. Collectively we have over 200 years of experience and have a client base that spans the globe.

As professional art consultants, we’re experts at creating unique, eye-catching, and productive corporate environments.

Whether you want to project an image or enhance your work environment…. we will help you every step of the way.

Please peruse our site. Explore our services and portfolio. Then contact us to discuss how best to use quality art to help accomplish your corporate goals.