TED.com is one of the Tuts+ Premium team’s favorite sources of learning and inspiration. In this post, I want to share 20 TED talks I recommend to all Tuts+ Premium students who are focused on learning creative skills.
1. Erik Johannson’s Impossible Photography
Erik Johansson creates realistic photos of impossible scenes — capturing ideas, not moments. In this witty how-to, the Photoshop wizard describes the principles he uses to make these fantastical scenarios come to life, while keeping them visually plausible.
2. Lisa Harouni’s A Primer on 3D Printing
2012 may be the year of 3D printing, when this three-decade-old technology finally becomes accessible and even commonplace. Lisa Harouni gives a useful introduction to this fascinating way of making things — including intricate objects once impossible to create.
3. Thomas Suarez, A 12 Year-old App Developer
Most 12-year-olds love playing videogames — Thomas Suarez taught himself how to create them. After developing iPhone apps like “Bustin Jeiber,” a whack-a-mole game, he is now using his skills to help other kids become developers.
4. James Cameron’s Before Avatar: A Curious Boy
James Cameron’s big-budget (and even bigger-grossing) films create unreal worlds all their own. In this personal talk, he reveals his childhood fascination with the fantastic — from reading science fiction to deep-sea diving — and how it ultimately drove the success of his blockbuster hits “Aliens,” “The Terminator,” “Titanic” and “Avatar.”
5. Evan Williams’ On Listening to Twitter Users
In the year leading up to this talk, the web tool Twitter exploded in size (up 10x during 2008 alone). Co-founder Evan Williams reveals that many of the ideas driving that growth came from unexpected uses invented by the users themselves.
6. Chip Kidd’s Designing Books is No Laughing Matter. OK, Yes It Is.
Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs.
7. Jer Thorp’s Make Data More Human
Jer Thorp creates beautiful data visualizations to put abstract data into a human context. At TEDxVancouver, he shares his moving projects, from graphing an entire year’s news cycle, to mapping the way people share articles across the internet.
8. Kelli Anderson’s Design to Challenge Reality
Kelli Anderson shatters our expectations about reality by injecting humor and surprise into everyday objects. At TEDxPhoenix she shares her disruptive and clever designs.
9. Stefan Sagmeister’s 7 Rules for Making More Happiness
Using simple, delightful illustrations, designer Stefan Sagmeister shares his latest thinking on happiness — both the conscious and unconscious kind. His seven rules for life and design happiness can (with some customizations) apply to everyone seeking more joy.
10. Rogier van der Heide’s Why Light Needs Darkness
Lighting architect Rogier van der Heide offers a beautiful new way to look at the world — by paying attention to light (and to darkness). Examples from classic buildings illustrate a deeply thought-out vision of the play of light around us.
11. Seth Godin’s This is Broken
Why are so many things broken? In a hilarious talk from the 2006 Gel conference, Seth Godin gives a tour of things poorly designed, the 7 reasons why they are that way, and how to fix them.
12. David McCandless’ The Beauty of Data Visualization
David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut — and it may just change the way we see the world.
13. Rory Sutherland’s Sweat the Small Stuff
It may seem that big problems require big solutions, but ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioral economics and hilarious examples.
14. Milton Glaser’s On Using Design to Make Ideas New
From the TED archives: The legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser dives deep into a new painting inspired by Piero della Francesca. From here, he muses on what makes a convincing poster, by breaking down an idea and making it new.
15. David Carson’s On Design + Discovery
Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery — for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humor. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.
16. Jay Walker’s Library of Human Imagination
Jay Walker, curator of the Library of Human Imagination, conducts a surprising show-and-tell session highlighting a few of the intriguing artifacts that backdropped the 2008 TED stage.
17. Eva Zeisel’s On The Playful Search for Beauty
The ceramics designer Eva Zeisel looks back on a 75-year career. What keeps her work as fresh today (her latest line debuted in 2008) as in 1926? Her sense of play and beauty, and her drive for adventure. Listen for stories from a rich, colorful life.
18. Tim Brown On Creativity and Play
At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).
19. Paola Antonelli Treats Design as Art
Paola Antonelli, design curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, wants to spread her appreciation of design — in all shapes and forms — around the world.
20. Philippe Starck Thinks Deep on Design
Designer Philippe Starck — with no pretty slides to show — spends 18 minutes reaching for the very roots of the question “Why design?” Listen carefully for one perfect mantra for all of us, genius or not.