Famous creatives lesser-known hobbies & side gigs

It used to be that when you were overstressed at work and your performance started to slip that it was time to take some time off and regroup. Recent research, however, suggests that there is a more therapeutic solution that raises performance far better than merely taking time off. This new direction? Spending time with creative hobbies. In fact, many famous creatives have side gigs or hobbies to help them in this manner.

Did you know that Emily Dickinson was an avid baker? She would often get so inspired in the kitchen she would have to write her poems on the back of her recipes. Salvador Dalí, known for his Surrealist paintings, was also a book illustrator — even creating watercolour illustrations for the Bible. Though these side projects earned little recognition from art historians and literary critics, they provide insight into the creative minds of famous creatives. Created by the art auction website Invaluable, the following visual breaks down the hobbies and side gigs of eight famous creative people including Emily Dickinson, Ayn Rand, Sylvia Plath, George W. Bush, Victor Hugo, Madeleine L’Engle, Salvador Dalí, and Walt Disney.

Infographic: 8 famous creatives whose side hobbies helped their careers

8 famous creatives whose side hobbies helped their careers

Practicing a hobby can give you a sense of mastery and help develop new skills and thought processes. One study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concluded that people who regularly engage in creative hobbies outside of work feel more relaxed and in control in their off-hours. And those who regularly engaged in their hobbies were more likely to be helpful to co-workers and creative in their approach to solving work problems. In fact, people who spend more time on side gigs are 12 percent more productive.

Emily Dickenson

American poet Emily Dickinson also had a passion for baking. She used the kitchen as a source of inspiration where she’d often write poems on the back of recipes while baking.

Ayn Rand

The avid writer was a passionate stamp collector. She would spend time with her stamps as a “brain-restorer” when feeling writer’s block.

“If I feel tired after a whole day of writing, I spend an hour with my stamp albums and it makes me able to resume writing for the rest of the evening. A stamp album is a miraculous brain-restorer.”

Sylvia Plath

Before the tragic death of American writer Sylvia Plath, the poet published a series of five poems about bees after taking up beekeeping as a hobby. A strange fact regarding these final poems; in them Plath entertained thoughts of her own death and explored contributing factors.

George W. Bush

The forty-third President of the United States, Bush actively pursued painting. He even took lessons from prominent instructors to further his artistic abilities.

When asked about his hobby he said, “It’s one of the greatest learning experiences.”

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo produced over 4,000 drawings and experimented with different mediums throughout his lifetime, many of which were praised by leading artists of his era. Unfortunately, afraid his drawings would overshadow his literary accomplishments, he only shared his artwork privately.

Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle is best known for her young adult fiction and 1962 novel A Wrinkle in Time; however, she would turn to music as a way to get “unstuck” and “break the barrier that comes between the conscious and unconscious mind.”

“…If I can play the piano, that will break the block, and my intuition will be free to give things up to my mind, my intellect. So it’s not just a hobby. It’s a joy.”

Salvador Dali

Dali turned to illustrating as another outlet to explore the themes that interested him. He illustrated many respectable books including Don QuixoteMacbethThe Divine ComedyAlice in Wonderland, and even copies of the Bible.

Walt Disney

From childhood, American entrepreneur Walt Disney was an avid train enthusiast. Disney’s passion for model trains served as inspiration for the attractions that appear within Walt Disney Resorts.


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