Music & Art Mar 28, 2018

What Makes Iceland So Creative?

Learn why Icelandic artists are known for being some of the most innovative creators in the world.

With some of today’s most creative artists hailing from Iceland (Björk, Ragnar Kjartansson, Katrín Sigurdardóttir, and Olafur Eliasson, to name just a few) it’s no surprise that Iceland has consistently been ranked one of the most innovative countries in the world. But where does that creativity stem from? A recent research study found that there are actually several cultural, environmental and individual variables contributing to Iceland’s artistic expression and influences.

Driven by the question “Why is Iceland so creative?” University of Kansas professor and psychologist Barbara A. Kerr and her students decided to explore the artists, processes, and products that foster Icelandic innovation with a special focus on fine art and music. Collecting data from all around the country, they looked at various elements that distinctly define Icelandic art and culture, including abilities, and personalities, natural and built environments, government and economic policies, and the social, familial, educational and cultural dynamics of the nation.

Kerr and her team found that although Icelanders did not display significantly distinct abilities, they all expressed attitudes of independence and tolerance that supported openness and inclusiveness. These personalities were found to correlate strongly with creativity. The study also discovered that Icelanders were more likely to attribute their creative inspiration to their strong sense of community and national pride rather than the natural landscapes of the country. With an emphasis on handmade crafts and a less hierarchical society, Iceland offers creative freedom and limitless forms of artistic expression that are difficult to find anywhere else in the world.

Iceland is home to one of the world’s largest design festivals, DesignMarch! The event explores all fields of design, featuring everything from fashion to furniture, and architecture to food design.

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