Scientists at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois used artificial intelligence to pinpoint the secret formula to the success of many artists in history and film directors. Artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock and film directors like Peter Jackson have their fair share of a hot streak, which intrigued scientists.

Daily Mail reported that the team used deep learning, a form of AI, to mine thousands of data on how these people managed to produce outstanding art in short succession to identify the magical formula for success.

 Secret of Success: AI Study Reveals Magical Formula of Hot Streak of Famous Artists, Film Directors
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night - Impressionist painting

The Secret of Success is a Combination of Exploration and Exploitation

In the new study, titled "Understanding the Onset of Hot Streaks Across Artistic, Cultural, and Scientific Careers," published in Nature Communications, researchers wrote that hot streaks are the result of years of exploration and exploitation.

The team defines a hot streak as a burst of high-impact works that an artist accomplishes in close succession. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock and film directors such as Peter Jackson and Alfred Hitchcock all had their hot streaks in the past.

Study lead author Dashun Wang said that a combination of exploration and exploitation is associated with hot streaks and not just either one of them. Even though the exploration period is a risk that artists take because it might not lead anywhere, this is also a time when the likelihood of stumbling upon a great idea increases.

On the contrary, exploitation is a conservative strategy to use the same type of work repeatedly for years that could stifle creativity in the artist. But interestingly, hot streaks often result from combining the two strategies.

For instance, Daily Mail reported that the 20th-century artist Jackson Pollock, best known for his drip technique in painting, started on drawing, printmaking, and surrealist paintings before sticking to his famous art technique. His exploration period followed by exploitation paid of with ht streaks that made him famous until this day.

The same principle also applies to the New Zealand film director Peter Jackson who created "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy released between 2001 and 2003. Before this, he worked on diverse films that were not as successful as the famous trilogy.

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What Triggers Hot Streak?

In an earlier study of Wang and his colleagues, titled "Hot Streaks in Artistic, Cultural, and Scientific Careers," published in Nature, the team characterized hot streaks among artists and scientists and pinpointed what triggers them. For instance, they found that Van Gogh's paintings before 1888 were more realistic than impressionistic, featuring natural landscapes and people.

In connection with their current study, ArtNet reported that patterns in the creators' work overtime changes, such as brushstrokes, plots and casting decisions, and research topics. The team noted that diversity in the period that led to their hot streak typically lasts about five years.

Whether it is in painting, film, or science, the trend at which a creator experiences a hot streak tends to point toward a diverse body of work in a period before that. During the hot streak, they continue and focus on their work in the same vein as they reflect an exploitation strategy.

Researchers hope that this new understanding of what triggers hot streaks could lead institutions to intentionally creating an environment that supports and facilitate hot streaks to motivate people to thrive.

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