Phil Hansen

Turn limitations into creativity

America’s Credit Union Conference keynoter says we should embrace our barriers.

April 25, 2019

Everyone faces limitations, whether they are imposed naturally or externally. Phil Hansen has created a life defined by embracing those limitations and using them as inspiration for creativity.

Hansen, multimedia artist, speaker, author, and innovator, will address CUNA’s 2019 America’s Credit Union Conference, June 17-20 at Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida.

After developing a career-threatening tremor in his drawing hand, Hansen feared his art career was over until a neurologist suggested he “embrace the shake”—or transform this challenge into an opportunity for success.


The doctor’s advice changed the context of the injury for Hansen. He invented new approaches to making art by embracing his so-called limitations.

Hansen's art cross-pollinates traditional art, electronic media, off-beat materials, and interactive experiences. He is most widely known for his meta-art, videos that document the creation process sometimes even through destruction.

‘When we re-contextualize the limitations we face, we create room for flexibility.’
Phil Hansen

His efforts show that art is action, not just result. Through an integrated view of what sparks creativity, Hansen has dedicated himself to sharing an approach to creativity that has changed his outlook and artistic development.

Hansen uses his limitations to empower himself by changing his mindset. As most can attest, that doesn’t come naturally.

“In our day-to-day work,  constraints are pretty hard to fix,” he says. “When we re-contextualize the limitations we face, we create room for flexibility.”

Creativity isn’t just about art, Hansen adds. “Creativity, at a very basic level, has been redefined more by science and psychologists, but not yet by our culture. The new rough working definition is taking two things and connecting them in a new or unusual way. While  that definition is new to us, it’s not new to the world.”

The most successful leaders create those connections every day and change the marketplace, he says, particularly at companies such as Amazon, Zappos, and Facebook.

“It’s about being able to look at the small things you do every day and ask yourself, ‘Is there a different way, maybe a smarter way, I could be doing this?’” he says. “That  can add up to bigger innovations.”