Originally posted on TED Blog:


Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In art school, Phil Hansen developed a shake in his hand. He couldn’t so much as draw a straight line anymore. After years of excelling in pointillism, his tight grip of the pen had caused permanent nerve damage.

“To me this was doomsday. This was the destruction of my dream of becoming an artist,” says Hansen in his talk in Session 2 of TED2013.  “I left art school and, then, I left art completely.”

Hansen was lost. But a neurologist helped him find his way again with three words: “embrace the shake.”

At this unusual prompting, Hansen decided to let his hands do what they wanted to do — make scribbles. He realized that he could create beautiful portraits using this approach. He started experimenting, using his feet to paint or a blowtorch to create faces in wood.

“Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity,” says Hansen, who describes…

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