Caine Monroy is a remarkable child but I also have to wonder how much of creativity was due to the twin muses of boredom and plentiful building materials.
One summer, his father took him to work frequently (every weekend? every day?) and Caine had nothing to do. At his father's business were a lot of empty boxes and he got started building (and a follow up). Enjoy these videos about the process and a surprise flashmob that visited.
Caine looked at the boxes but saw more than stiff paper receptacles for auto parts. He saw blank surfaces for coloring and construction materials. Scientific American has an article (not about Caine) that discusses how rethinking labels boosts creativity.
Caine made money with his arcade but I think he liked the process more than the financial results. His 'Funpass" is good for 500 plays and costs only $2.00 after all. If he were offered more money, would he be more creative?
Let’s talk about money. In his history of world art, E.H. Gombrich mentions a Renaissance artist whose uneven work was a puzzle, until art historians discovered some of his accounts and compared incomes with images: paid less he worked carelessly; well-remunerated he excelled.
The author, Tim Parks, wondered,
…do I always write as well or as badly as I anyway do regardless of payment, so that these monetary transactions and the decisions that go with them affect my bank balance and anxiety levels, but not the quality of what I do?
Not really related: Bruce Schneier discusses how to get a start in security - the business that I, at least, connect with computer encryption. His advice is good for most fields and boils down to 1) Study, 2) Do, and 3) Show. The third point describes demonstrating your knowledge and skills. Blogging, podcasting and commenting on the same are his examples. I don't know how well I will do with his self-study course in cryptanalysis but the code-making-little boy in me is eager to investigate, if nothing else.