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Fueling the Creative Flame

Director of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as Shrek and Shrek 2, Adamson is the father of two children, ages 3-1/2 years and 17 months.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

There were many things my parents did-from engaging in self-made games to not devaluing creative endeavors over so-called "practical" endeavors. Even in high school, when I chose to go against my teacher and skip his class to go a talent show rehearsal, my parents supported me in the decision. At some point early in my life, the family decided that I was the artistic one, and from that day forward most of my birthday and Christmas presents were centered on drawing and painting. I'll never know whether I really had a natural aptitude or whether that decision created the skills, but either way it was certainly very supportive of something I enjoyed doing.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

I would say that it was my parents. Later in high school I also developed a crush on an art teacher, so that helped! I've been very lucky to be surrounded by people who didn't judge exploring music, drawing, painting, etc. as a waste of time. I never heard from any of my family that I should "get a real job." Sure it's important to learn the alphabet and numbers, but it's just as important to be allowed to scribble things that may mean nothing to anyone but oneself. I also think I was lucky that my parents didn't have enough money to buy us a lot of complicated toys; it meant that we made our own, which in itself developed our creativity.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I read a lot of British children's books. The Narnia Chronicles were an important part of my early reading. I loved the idea of other worlds and possibilities. These books also exposed me to a lot of evocative, mythical imagery that occurs in every culture.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

All your life you will be facing limitations and boundaries, but don't let them contain you. Let them challenge you to find even more creative ways to do your own thing. Sometimes being an individual can be more difficult than fitting in, particularly when you're young, but if you follow your own path you will discover later how valuable it is to be able to think differently from the crowd. That's a fancy way of saying, "If you want to do something, do it!" Don't let people tell you that you can't or shouldn't.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

It's hard for me to judge my most creative accomplishment because I will always feel that it is yet to come.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is so important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

Lateral thinking. Understanding of music. Visual imagination. Role-playing. These are all things I draw upon every day. But aside from my job, I feel my daily life would not be complete without some kind of creative pursuit. When I'm not working it's often music. My wife, who is a visual artist, and I know this about each other. If we don't get to exercise our creative muscles we get pretty intolerable. I'm lucky that I get to do it for my job as well.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I don't know how not to. I feel a constant need to try things and improve my skills. I'm not someone who spends hours in front of the TV or video games, though I am comfortable with vegging out at times. I find many of those pursuits to be ultimately dissatisfying because I am unaffected by them; I leave the experience the same as when I entered. When I do something that challenges me creatively I come out the other end feeling differently. Sometimes it can be very frustrating. I may not achieve what I set out to, and that may take me to a dark place of dissatisfaction, but most times it's this dissatisfaction that pushes me to break through the walls and discover things I never knew I could do.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

I've tried to do many of the things that my parents have done for me. I've spent time with them-time that I enjoy-making things, inventing games and songs, being silly in the name of invention. I play with them in ways that are not too defined and limited but that allow for them to invent. I've also tried to let them see how much I enjoy doing creative things. I play music and let them play with me, even though it's often not harmonious. Sometimes the attempt to make a child do something better can stop it from being fun. My daughters also go and "work" in the studio with their mother, applying themselves just as diligently to their easels. I think it's important for kids to see their parents enjoying their own creative endeavors so that they learn that they are fun as well as rewarding.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

I like toys that involve activities I can enjoy with my kids. They can be toys like Lego, where we toss the instructions and make up things, to simple paper and pens, where we'll all contribute to a drawing. Finger paints are freeing; kids can make a mess while exploring color and shape. And more often than not, the most fun thing is a big cardboard box that can be a space ship, a house, a train, or a tent-anything you want it to be.

The acclaimed children's musician plays guitar and sings in the Laurie Berkner Band. Her albums include, Under a Shady Tree, We Are...The Laurie Berkner Band, and Buzz, Buzz. She is the mother of a 2-year-old daughter.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

I had time to myself that was not structured. I had this game called the Daisy Dream, which was a hotel chain. I was really into it. We had these big pillar candles and I used them as phones. I made a logo. I was 9 or so, and I would cut things out of magazines like pictures of rooms. There was the Coach Room, which was supposed to be really special. I would also come up with acts so you could come and see performances while you stayed at the hotel. It was really detailed. I played that for a really long time. And sometimes my brother Chris would play with me, but I think he got bored with it.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My parents were both-at different times and in different ways-encouraging of my creativity. As I got older, they were more than supportive about my trying to make music my career. When I graduated from college, my dad and mom said if I wanted to move to New York for a year and try to figure out how I could get someone to pay me to do music, they would pay my rent. After that I would be on my own, but at least I could see if I wanted to stay or if I wanted to do something else. By the end of that year, I got my job teaching preschool music and that's what led me to writing music for kids. It's important to feel that it's okay to choose something that might not traditionally be a good way to make money in a career. I felt like I had that support. It helped me get to the point where I got paid to play my guitar and sing with kids.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I listened a lot to Free to Be You and Me. I remember making up a lot of songs. I put on shows for the neighborhood parents. We would make popcorn and put it in the bags and sell it. I would teach my friends the dances or they would make up dances.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Don't be afraid to let whatever comes out come out. And if you don't like it, you can change. If you love it, you have something beautiful that's yours and it can change with you. Remember, your creativity is a gift that you have to give. Hiding it-especially if it's because you're afraid you might not be accepted or it won't be good enough-is holding back a gift both to yourself and other people.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

Making my first album, Whaddaya Think of That?, was a pretty big deal. I had been writing rock music and had made a demo, but I had never made a complete album. I can be very judgmental about how I sound and what I like. I can be a perfectionist to a negative degree. So what was great about that was that I accepted the way I sang. We can forever change, fix, and try to make something better. But I just gave in to making the album and that allowed me to continue making more albums. I love my first album for what it is. And that felt really freeing.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important?

Encouraging creativity is really encouraging people to be themselves. It's also a way that people and kids connect to their feelings. As we get older, it's harder and harder to do that because being creative becomes something that's relegated to the arts or being a child. But being creative is an essential part of being human.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I have a notebook in my bag, and if I'm really excited about something I write it down. Instead of flipping on the television when I'm exhausted, I pull out a sketchbook and draw. Also another thing I do is let myself be inspired. I do that by listening to music, seeing performances, and going to see art.

How do you encourage your child's creativity?

I give her the space to imagine and make things up herself. I noticed the other day that she started pretending she was cooking something. She had a container that used to have bubbles in it, and she was like, "I'm making yogurt and I'm making soup and I'm putting it on the stove. I'm cooking it." She reached up really high on this shelf and I thought, "Oh my god, she's going to fall over." I kept thinking, "I wish I had a play stove." And then I thought, "Okay, I'm sure she would have fun with a play stove, but she just made that shelf into a stove– she's using her imagination and having fun. As long as I'm here to make sure she doesn't hurt herself by reaching up too far, it's good. It's great that she made it up-she created an environment for herself."

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

You have to follow your kid on that. We're talking about being creative, and creativity is unique to every person. There's something really positive about giving support to your child, just letting her know that whatever comes out of her is okay.

The Academy Award-nominated actress, author of On the Couch, and owner of Bracco Wines is the mother of two daughters, ages 28 and 19.

What did your parents do to encourage your creativity?

My mother was very into arts and crafts-she always set a beautiful dinner table and made us all Halloween costumes. We were a big holiday household.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

Mr. Horowitz, my seventh-grade English/drama teacher. He saw something in me and always encouraged me.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

Watching movies with my parents and listening to them discuss characters and scenes.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Dress, sing, dance, draw whatever and whenever-express yourself.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

My children.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is so important?

It allows you to find your true self-like it or not!

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

A book called The Jester Has Lost his Jingle, which is about laughter. Coloring books, crayons, musical instruments, beads, paper, scissors, glue, Play Doh, Legos, ceramics, baking cookies and bread, singing, carving pumpkins, making Christmas ornaments, and painting Easter eggs.

Celebrity makeup artist, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and bestselling author of four books, including her latest one, Living Beauty, Brown is the mother of three children, ages 16, 14, and 7.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

Even though my father was an attorney, he had many hobbies such as arts and crafts, sculpting, painting, and building. I used to hang around and watch him all the time. My mom was also constantly busy doing some sort of art project like dressing a table.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

Both my mother and father. When I was 6 my mother gave me a bag full of her makeup and a blank pad of paper and told me to go paint. When she walked back into the room 20 minutes later, I had painted myself and all my dolls!

My father used to tell me adventure stories about three children named Patty Boo, Parry Boo, and Putty Boo, who were the same ages as my brothers, sisters, and me. The stories were incredibly visual and took me away every night.

If you could share advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Everyone is creative in different ways-there are no rules! My biggest piece of advice is to do what makes you happy.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

My children and my company.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I don't work in an office five days a week. I do a lot of exercising and traveling, which is basically where I get most of my ideas from. I am most creative when I'm not in the office.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

Let them get really dirty and sandy! I allow them to experience different foods and use colored soaps in the bathroom. I believe in giving kids the freedom to explore themselves and do activities that promote creativity.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

Having cabinets stocked with assorted items like wood, food coloring, yarn, buttons, paints-everything. We have a tradition in the family of creating a "Plofker birthday cake." I take rice cakes and lay them along the bottom of a square cake pan. I put vanilla frosting on top and then let the kids put M&Ms, Skittles, gummy bears, lollipops, anything they want and then we eat it for everyone's birthdays.

This children's book author and illustrator's works include the Baby Be of Use series and the children's book How to Be. She is married to Daniel Handler, who is the author of the Lemony Snicket books, and is the mother of one child, age 3.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My parents, my mother in particular. She took 10 years off from her career to raise me and my brothers, and though she loved being a mother, I suspect that she was often bored. This led her to devise a gazillion ways to keep us, and herself, occupied. We baked bread together, made masks from paper bags, dressed up in our parents' old clothes, learned to crochet, had birthday parties for our stuffed animals, went to museums and playgrounds, and duck ponds, and did any number of other fun and wacky things.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I had this phonograph record of someone telling the story of "Hansel and Gretel" that I would listen to over and over and over. When I knew it by heart, I would make my younger brothers act out the story with me, over and over and over. I always had to play the witch. When the tale ended, we would make up additional adventures for the characters (and I made sure that the witch always survived her push into the oven).

We also used to have neighborhood-wide games of things like Star Wars. We would take the story and continue it. I remember there were always too many girls. Everybody wanted to be Princess Leia, so we came up with Princess Leia's younger sister-and then there were a bunch of female Ewoks.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Pretend. Make up stories. Don't be afraid that your stories are no good-just as long as you are having fun while you're making them up. Creativity is just like anything else: Practice makes perfect.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

That's a hard question. My entire career, both as a graphic designer and a children's illustrator/writer, has been an attempt to work creatively.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

If I weren't creative, no one would want to read my books; they'd be bored. I try to live my life creatively so that I'm not bored either.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I spy on my 3-year-old son.

What have you done to encourage your child's creativity?

We restrict television and limit branded objects. It's not that characters and stories from TV and movies are bad. Some of them are quite wonderful. It's just that one should recognize them as jumping-off points for further imaginative play, not simply as passive entertainment.

But mostly, we give our child ample time alone. Organized activities have their place, but the perfect recipe for creativity includes some time to think, a little solitude, and even a handful of boredom.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

Books galore, tons and tons of them. Start reading to your kid as soon as his eyes can focus. Or even before.

And definitely ask your child lots of questions. It will prompt him to come up with his own answers.

An author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle is the co-founder, along with his wife, of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. He is also the father of two grown children.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

I was born to German immigrant parents in Syracuse, NY-where I went to first grade in Miss Frickey's sun-filled classroom with large sheets of paper, fat brushes, and colorful paints. Miss Frickey recognized my talent at drawing and painting and told my parents to nurture my creative interests. And they did.

Also, when I was a small boy, my father would take me on walks in the woods and introduce me to the small creatures who lived under rocks and beneath bark. I have very fond memories of these times and how my father helped me to see the beauty in the natural world. In my books, I honor my father by writing about small living things.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I didn't have many books as a child. But I grew up in a four-family house. We sat together and my aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents talked and argued about various topics, the whole time telling stories. Their voices and stories made up a kind of oral tradition within the family. At some point I realized that this is where my ability as a storyteller came from.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

If you love to do something, like draw or paint or play music, do it. Roll up your sleeves and begin your work! Also try to remain open and see the beauty in small things that are easy to overlook in nature and in the world around you. In a museum, I like to look closely at a large masterpiece and study a very small area of brush strokes. I am fascinated by the small world of brush strokes isolated from the painting itself. Try it sometime and you too will be amazed.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

Of course, my books. But one thing that is not book-related, which I am most proud of, is designing and creating the costume and scenery for a production of The Magic Flute for the Springfield Symphony. It was performed as a semi-staged opera for only one day, but it was most satisfying and gratifying. And the opening of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I feel a connection to the child in me still, and I try to entertain that child when I am creating my books.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

I have tried to listen to my children and understand who they are as unique individuals. They are both adults now and have done creative work at different times in their lives.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

I personally think a simple set of paints or box of crayons and paper can be the best way to begin.

The award-winning illustrator and author has published more than 200 children's books, including Strega Nona, 26 Fairmount Avenue, and his latest, Why? The War Years.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

I was encouraged right along, but the real turning point came one Christmas-I was either 9 or 10-when all I got were art supplies. There was an easel, watercolor sets, an oil painting set, pastels, and pads of this wonderful paper that I had never seen before. Also stacks and stacks of how-to books: How to Draw Animals, How to Draw Trees. You name it, I got it. On top of that, they gave me a charge account at Lamphier's paint store, which had an art supply section in the back and Mrs. Lamphier would help me pick things out. That really made me feel like my parents listened to me. They took me at my word that when I grew up I was going to be an artist. I've never forgotten that-ever.

What inspired you most as a child?

Books, of course-my mother was an avid reader. I got my library card when I was in first grade. I learned how to read fast so I could get my library card. And movies inspired me a lot. Believe it or not, Walt Disney's early movies: Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, you know the really good ones. They were so beautifully done. I remember going to see Fantasia and that introduced me to classical music as well as more abstract art. Also, growing up at the time of the MGM Technicolor musicals-you know, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly-all that singing, dancing, costume design, and set design influenced me subconsciously, if not consciously. So when I went off to art school, I discovered Matisse and Picasso, and I was ready for them.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

I'd tell kids to look out the window and daydream and doodle. I would also encourage parents to make sure their kids have lots of paper. These days, well even in my day, you don't get enough supplies in school. My parents gave me half of the attic for my studio. No one could go in there. I had a chalk line drawn on an old rug, and I remember my sister standing with her toes right to the chalk line gazing over into my studio. I had a puppet theater and all these art supplies, books, and paints. I also think practice is important. Doodling is a wonderful way to practice art. When you say, "I'm just doodling," you're not saying, "I'm going to paint the Mona Lisa." It's just practicing.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

When I get letters from children and colleagues that just touch me so deeply, I realize that I've done this work and it's touching someone else. That's the reward-someone else appreciating what I've done. Of course, I'm very lucky to be in the book business because I get lots of letters from kids and teachers.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

It enables the child, who eventually becomes a grown-up, to solve problems in a much more creative way. I also think being creative gives older kids the tools to see the world in a unique way-their own way, and not just the party line. When your creativity is encouraged as a child you become a creative adult. It gives you more options to solve life's problems.

As far as my career is concerned, well, here I am living in a wonderful house in New Hampshire. I'm 72 years old. I've got a wonderful dog. I've got a great assistant. I get over 100,000 fan letters a year from people telling me how wonderful I am, and it's all because I sit down at a drawing table and draw pictures. I can't imagine my life any other way. I'm truly happy with what my life has brought me.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I look at things, listen to things, and try to stay open. I daydream and doodle.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

Buy cheap paper. Go to a computer store and buy cheap printer paper. You don't have to buy $100 watercolor paper for a young kid. Just make sure they have a lot of paper and art supplies. I would encourage parents to go to a real art store because the choices are even greater. And if parents are really brave, they could give their kid a charge account at an art supply store.

The work of this award-winning artist, author, designer, and illustrator has appeared in The New Yorker and the book The Elements of Style. She is the mother of two children, ages 24 and 21.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

My parents, especially my mother, put no limits on my creativity. They never expected me to be pragmatic. Stories were encouraged. Irreverence was admired. We often went to museums. I had piano lessons, ballet lessons. The atmosphere was nonjudgmental. What I understood from her was "just be yourself."

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

Again, my mother. She did not interfere in what I wanted to do. She had faith in me and believed I should make my own mistakes, which takes a tremendous amount of courage and patience on the parent's part.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

Pipi Longstocking was my hero. She was independent, spoke her mind, and was kind and funny. A very good imaginary role model. I probably had that tomboyish, spunky, strong attitude that a lot of girls have before they enter adolescence-that kind of fearlessness that you need in the world and hopefully find again when you've gone through some amount of growing up. She was an example of that. She didn't doubt herself; she was strong and funny. That to me seemed a good way to live.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Follow your natural instincts and don't try to do something "right." Just do what you feel.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

Making my life and art a seamless event (for the most part). I don't have to be different in my work than I am in my life. On the contrary, the confusion, sadness, happiness, curiosity that is in my personality is in my work.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important?

Einstein's famous quote "Imagination is more important than knowledge" resonates for every person on earth. If you cannot imagine a new way-your way-to do something, it seems that life would be quite boring. And creativity brings change and optimism.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I am curious about things. I like to laugh and I don't like to be bored. So when I get bored, I do something that I think would be interesting and fun. I like to travel and that gives me great energy. But just taking a walk around the block is incredibly inspiring-seeing the people around us trying to do the best they can.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

My children are now 24 and 21. We always had fun and made things together: costumes, masks, forts, cities with all the furniture in the living room. We used to take string and make spiderwebs across the whole place. And take chairs and build houses. Everything was movable and nothing so precious that we could not turn the room upside down. We listened to music. We looked at architecture. We went to the beach. We read all the time. We sang and danced and loved.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

All and any books of course. Then paper and pencil. We didn't have computer toys when we were growing up. We used to draw each other with our eyes closed. We would draw our dreams. You don't need anything more than that. There are enough things around the house that are fun to work with. The best thing is to not have too much. Then you find magic in what is around you.

The senior design director at Lego Systems, Inc., is the father of three children, ages 12, 10, and 6.

How did your family encourage your creativity?

I was the youngest of five, and two of my older brothers were very talented at drawing. Like most younger brothers, I wanted to be just like them, so I would draw a lot. We also lived next to my great-aunt and uncle-he would make or restore furniture and she would paint it. She was the most creative person I knew and would always encourage me to draw and paint.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My mom and dad could see that drawing was important to me and as I got older, began to encourage me more. I remember having a discussion with my parents about wanting to go to art school. My father was worried that I wouldn't be able to find a job and would become a "starving artist," but my mother was confident that I was serious. As I mentioned before, I was also very much influenced by Aunt Julie. She had a wonderful library of art books, and we would look at them together and talk about the different paintings and the artists who created them.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

My favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I loved the story and the illustrations are beautiful. I must have copied Max and his monsters a thousand times. When I was 8, I saw Star Wars and realized how powerful creativity and imagination can be. And not least of all, my dad brought home a Lego castle from a business trip to Norway. I was in second grade. It was a school day and I had to stop building it and go to school. I had such a hard time concentrating that my teacher called my mom to come get me so I could go home and finish it. I still have that castle to this day!

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Every child is naturally creative. Sometimes parents are so busy they don't have time to break out the paints and colored pencils. But creativity is important for healthy development and needs to be encouraged. Applied creativity develops things like fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to really study an object, to be able to duplicate or interpret it, which has all sorts of other life applications. For me, it was drawing, and I couldn't draw enough. The more you do it, the better you get. So if you love something, celebrate it and just do it, over and over again!

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

I am very fortunate to work for a company with the values and ethics of Lego. Because of the toys, I have the greatest audience for my work that a person like me can have, which makes me so proud. We made some short animations that have played on television and on the Web. The reaction from the kids (my own included) was unbelievable.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is so important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

Well, I'm not very good at fixing the car or the plumbing. But if the kids need help with a school project, Dad's the man. Being a fun and helpful dad in that way has been very fulfilling for me.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I still do a lot of the things I did as a child, like collecting toys, watching cartoons, building, drawing, and playing video games. Working for Lego makes it easy to stay inspired and totally engaged because I enjoy the product and our audience. Knowing that what we're producing and designing has longevity and will be just as cool to a kid 30 years from now motivates my inner creator.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

I have three wonderful children and all are very different. My oldest loves to play sports and read. My daughter likes sports and drawing, and my youngest loves to build with Lego and play video games. For each of them, creativity means different things. It's not just about art supplies; you can be a creative athlete! My wife and I try to balance and juggle all the kids' interests and activities so that they each have the right outlets for their passions. We really go for it when they bring home projects from school. We have done everything from build a two-foot ceramic alligator to a giant working View Master to a video with sound and animation. I inspire and share with them but let them do all the work. That's how they'll learn to be creative-because they'll be proud of what they create.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

Well, Lego, of course, because it's familiar and intuitive for kids. You often hear about the adverse effects computers and video games can have on our children. In moderation, these things are fine and an important part of our culture. I imagine the modern-day version of my aunt and me surfing the Web to look at various works of art, and that's okay. I think exercise and a lot of hands-on activities are essential. Give your kids an inexpensive digital camera; you will be amazed by what they see, how they see it, and how they choose to capture it.

The award-winning animator and vice president of animation at Disney is the father of two children, ages 7 and 5-1/2.

What did your parents do to encourage your creativity?

From the earliest ages, my family always encouraged my exploration of the arts. I started oil painting when I was 6, and drum and piano lessons when I was 7. My family made sure there were opportunities for me. They supported me going to art school; they exposed me to art galleries and musical performances. My attention span wasn't very long, so my parents made sure that as I lost interest in one thing there was something else for me to express my creativity in.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

I had a fantastic art teacher in eighth grade. When I went to Cal Arts, which is where I went to art school, my first-year mentor was a guy named Bob Winquist. He was an amazing individual who instilled an everlasting sense of inspiration in me as well as in my former classmates. It was a very lucky time to be at that school and that program. He was an enchanted individual. He was this amazingly positive, open-minded, creative, off-the-wall guy who had been around for years. He ran the character-animation program there for a good 10 years and so many people passed through his leadership and have gone on to do such wonderful things. It's funny; all my former classmates and myself talk about him still to this day as being this magical force in our lives. I can say I would not be in the job I'm currently in if it weren't for Bob Winquist.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I was a real Dr. Suess kid. I was also a huge fan of Roald Dahl. Every kid can identify with those children in the Roald Dahl books. Also, anything Disney, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney films were always something that communicated to me strongly because of the characters and the artistry of them. I don't think I was alone in that.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

It's so easy to get into a rut creatively. So exercise those creative chops by always trying to take things further or explore territories that you haven't mastered yet. I think it's important to not become complacent. With children, it's exploring all avenues of the arts. If you're a child who likes the visual arts, don't just draw with your crayons-try painting, try pastels, try sculpture. The same goes for music-explore other musical styles, whether it's composition or performance. A huge part of my own childhood was having those options, and exploring different aspects of them before settling on the visual arts.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

My position at Disney is probably my greatest creative accomplishment because I'm able to work with so many different artists, creators, and studios.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is so important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

I love what I do. I cannot think of a career I would be happier in and it's because of the encouragement I received. A good sense of imagination and creativity are wonderful attributes for any kid to have. If we can encourage that, if we can build upon that, they're ultimately better people for it.

How do you keep yourself creative?

By always seeking new inspiration whether it's in art, music, or entertainment. There is so much going on in our world and it's easy to access these things. There aren't enough hours in the day.

What have you done to encourage your kids' creativity?

I've given my children a lot of options. My son has been very interested in music, so we've got a house full of electric guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, drums, and guitar amps. With my daughter, she's very interested in the visual arts, so we've got virtually every art supply. Kids are overscheduled from the moment they're born, and it's so easy to throw them into lessons whether they're the right fit or not. With my son and music, I wanted to see where his focus landed and that it was more than just a phase. The same is true with my daughter.

The bestselling cookbook author is also the host of her own syndicated daytime show, Rachael Ray, as well as Food Network's 30 Minute Meals, Tasty Travels, and $40 a Day.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

Everything about my family situation encouraged my creativity. We grew up in the kitchen around people who loved to sit around the table and tell stories. We were given Erector sets, art sets, books, and paints. I grew up in a time before video and computer games.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My grandfather, my mother—there wasn't anybody in the house who didn't love to tell stories or didn't love to be expressive. My entire family is very creative in one way or another. Also being sick inspired my creativity a lot. I had croup and had to live in a tent with a vaporizer for days on end. I would read books and play-act in there.

What materials inspired you most as a child?

I had thousands of crayons and paints. And all my books; I really treated them well and kept them just so. I loved the Erector set. I loved my weaving loom. I loved playing with clay, drawing, making books, and telling stories.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

The best thing you can do for yourself is turn off the television and video games. And just go outside.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

My cookbooks because that's how I express myself. That's my outlet. My food is a scrapbook of the places I've been and all the things I've enjoyed over my whole lifetime. It's a way to keep my memories alive and express my point of view about living. Those cookbooks are more like my personal journals than anything else.

My favorite cookbook is my cookbook for children. I think cooking can be so important to a child's self-esteem. I decided to write a book that was respectful and spoke to kids directly rather than talking down to them.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

It's a pressure valve that keeps you from being too stressed out. You can always take yourself someplace else if you can go someplace in your head. The more popular you get, the more people talk about you and the more closed in your life begins to feel. It could really overwhelm you being in the public eye. Being creative helps you keep that in perspective. It can help you forget about anything that's bugging you that day. And certainly being creative helps you get over writer's block. It's absolutely necessary for my job. Not feeling limited when you look at a blank piece of paper helps. My job would be impossible if I hadn't developed this sort of creative flow as a kid.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I work with a bunch of other creative people at all my different jobs and that's inspiring. I get to travel a lot; that's a constant wellspring. You're being exposed to new things, new people, and new places. And then there's the live audience. I talk to them-it takes a while to shoot each one of those hour-long shows and you talk to people in between. They swap stories with you about places they've been, what they like to eat, and recipes they have. It's gotten easier over the years. The workload's increased but so has the inspiration.

What can parents do to encourage their children's creativity?

Give them toys and gifts that inspire creativity rather than what they put on the list. I made my niece a dress-up trunk one Christmas, She was 5 or 6, and people shot rolls of film that day because she wouldn't stop dressing up. She was half spy, half princess, half doctor. It turned out to be the big hit of the day and it certainly wasn't on the list. I used a vintage trunk that I bought at a secondhand store and old vintage clothes for dress-up. And I bought a few things from the toy store like a doctor kit and put it inside.

My grandfather lived with us for years, and I think that's a good thing for kids-exposing them to different generations. Being allowed to interact with other generations and hear some great storytelling makes for a more open-minded environment.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

For kids who can't read yet, pop-up books are phenomenal. There are so many great quality ones now. Also, dress-up trunks, really good pastels, paints, brushes, and charcoals. I would never leave home without my sketchpad and my box of paints and things to draw with. I loved blocks. All that stuff was key. Those are probably all my favorite things.

A bestselling author and renowned pop-up book creator, Sabuda's works include The Christmas Alphabet, The 12 Days of Christmas, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-Up, and Arthur and the Sword.

What did your parents do to encourage your creativity?

My father was a carpenter and a mason, so I was always surrounded by some kind of project that involved building or making something. My mother was a part-time dance teacher, which definitely influenced the way I view the combination of art and movement.

When you are a kid you're always interested in what's happening and how something is working. I would go with my dad to his jobs in the morning and watch him. The work that he was doing was so precise and that precision continues today with the work that I do. There's a tremendous amount of initial foundation work for the pop-ups to work. My mother taught different kinds of dance. There was never a sense of "this is the only type of dance" or "I'm a mason and I only work in natural stone." That attitude never existed when I was young, so as an adult artist now I never feel hindered or restricted.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My teachers all enthusiastically encouraged me with my artwork. I grew up in a very rural area, and if any child seemed to excel at anything in such a challenging environment the teachers tended to encourage him with the hopes that he would succeed.

My teachers would ask me to decorate the bulletin board and I thought that was the greatest honor in the world. They were like, "Here's the theme; do whatever you want."

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

I have been an avid reader my entire life. In fact, I don't even recall learning how to read; it seems like I just could! I read a wide range of things from Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad to Mad Magazine. My parents felt that any young-reader material was appropriate as long as we were reading. Of course, pop-up books held a special place for me because of their fantastic movement and surprises.

Whenever I saw something that I liked or was excited about, I was like, "I'm going to try and make that." It never occurred to me that I couldn't make something. It was like, "At least try and see where it goes."

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Never stop being creative! A lot of young people feel that they should outgrow their creativity as they age. Nothing could be further than the truth! Young people should become more creative as they get older.

Part of that comes from the pressure we get from society. There's still this idea that if you're a certain age you should be doing these more serious things. Especially as kids enter high school or if they're looking toward college, creative interests fall completely by the wayside because parents, understandably so, are concerned about their kids making a living. I meet people all the time who say, "I was thinking about art school or I was thinking about being a writer and then I went to business school." It just crushes me when I hear somebody say that-especially if they're unhappy. So the bottom line is keep following your creative dreams at any cost.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

The fact that I am a self-taught paper engineer. When I was learning how to make pop-ups there were no books to help me.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important, and how has it helped you in your life and career?

If we don't encourage young people with their creativity, where will the world's future artists come from? When I decided to go to art school there were many people who said I could never make a living as an artist. Fortunately, there were just as many who told me to push on. Those people were right and I'm the living proof.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I do very little creative work outside my studio. I save all my artistic energy for my books.

Truth be told, I'm never for lack of inspiration. It's a blessing and a curse. I have a million projects in my mind that I would love to do, and who knows if they'll ever get done. I never get artist's block. I think part of the reason for that is because I work in the children's field, so there's always that child within. When you're a kid, you've always got creative things going on, you've always got ideas for this fun new thing-the well just fills and fills and fills. And since I'm a big kid in adult's clothing, the well is still full.

If you have children, what have you done to encourage their creativity?

I don't have any children, but if I did I would try to raise and encourage them the same way I was. I would give them the creative freedom that my parents gave me. They felt I was responsible and capable enough to handle my creativity. Let children discover on their own, let them find challenges, let them make mistakes, and let them learn from those mistakes.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

I love interactive toys and books, but prefer that their main focus not be electronic. There should be much more imagination-based play instead of toys and games that do everything for the child. Interactive toys mixed with imagination allows for a greater sense of self-creative-discovery.

Creator and executive producer of the children's TV shows The Wonder Pets! and Oobi!, Selig is also an Emmy-Award-winning writer and former Sesame Street child actor.

What did your parents do to encourage creativity?

There was always great respect in my home for creative work. Every creative gesture-from a puppet show to a homemade bookmark-was acknowledged in some way. My mother is a painter and writer and she always encouraged my brother and me to make things. She would display our work in some simple way and that made us feel great.

Who were the adults in your life who most encouraged your creativity?

My family was supportive of my creativity-and a few very important teachers as well. The best way an adult can support a child's creativity is to treat everything the child makes with respect. This does not mean false flattery or putting drawings in fancy frames. It means talking to a child about what he made and showing a genuine interest in his work. This is very validating for any child or, for that matter, any adult.

Which books and other materials inspired you most as a child?

Dr. Seuss. Roald Dahl. Bugs Bunny. Making sandcastles on Fire Island. Making pretzels in Amish Country. The fact that I could make something (anything!) with my hands fascinated me as a child—and it still does.

If you could share one piece of advice with a child about being creative, what would that be?

Make exactly what you feel like making. Don't believe anyone who tells you there is a right way to draw a dog or make a pinch pot. It doesn't matter what you make. It could be a sculpture, cookies, or a rhythm on a drum. But it does matter that you make something and share it with the world.

What do you see as your most creative accomplishment?

Though I am very proud of Oobi! and The Wonder Pets!, I think my most creative accomplishment has been building my company, Little Airplane Productions. It is a home for my talented staff, where we can produce our television shows, write our books, and make our films.

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important?

Why do you think encouraging creativity is important? I am certain that all people are creative, not just those who become "artists." When we are young, parents and teachers tend to support our creativity. As we get older, this begins to change and we are encouraged to pursue more "practical" activities and vocations. This is unfortunate because one's creativity will help with any task or career. And without some form of creative expression, Life feels less complete.

How do you keep yourself creative?

I go running. I keep a journal. I frequent Starbucks.

What can parents do to encourage their children's creativity?

I don't yet have children, but when I do I'll try to be like my friend and colleague Tone Thyne. He makes green eggs and ham for his children. And he cuts their pizza into a heart shape on Valentine's Day. He and his wife, Kendra, find opportunities for creativity in many everyday family activities. I'd like to be like them.

What do you think are the ideal toys, games, books, activities, and art supplies for promoting creativity?

I am not a big fan of buying a lot of stuff for kids. You can promote creativity by writing a book with your child as well as by buying a book for your child. Instead of signing up for that dance class, you can dance around the living room with your kids every night. The more that creativity is integrated into a child's daily routine, the more likely he or she will embrace it. Art doesn't just belong in museums. It belongs on refrigerators.