Phil Hansen

‘Embrace the shake’ to harness creativity

Phil Hansen found new ways to be creative after being diagnosed with permanent nerve damage.

March 27, 2017

A constant tremor made pointillism—an artistic technique using tiny dots to create a picture—difficult for Phil Hansen.

But after dropping out of art school and ceasing to create art, a neurologist diagnosed Hansen with permanent nerve damage and told him to “embrace the shake” and continue to create art while facing the limitations the tremor imposed.

“It felt like a generic piece of advice that adults give to younger people,” says Hansen, a multimedia artist at the forefront of bringing art to a wider audience. “And at the time it wasn’t advice I wanted to hear. But I ultimately decided to try to visual what it would be like to ‘embrace the shake.’”

Instead of creating pieces of art using the pointillism technique he was so fond of, Hansen created “scribble” pictures on large pieces of paper, and found that by facing his limitations head-on, he discovered new ways to become creative through art.

Hansen will share the story of how he “embraced the shake” and offer tips on how to find ways to become creative despite limitations during a keynote address at the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference April 1 in San Antonio.

When faced with challenges and limitations, Hansen says people often believe those roadblocks will prevent them from reaching their goals. But “there is always room for creativity to change our limitations,” he says.

“People will begin to look at their own beliefs and perspectives as affecting the way they view the challenges in front of them,” says Hansen. “Sometimes it’s hard to admit to ourselves, because it’s comfortable to admit to ourselves that it wouldn’t work. But if we can say something won’t work, then that opens us up to having to find a solution; to get creative.”