Aneesha Sharma

. IDC Home
. Phd at IDC

Project Title: Phenomenon of letting go in Visual Arts and Design - An exploration into self transformative creative experiences

Supervisor: Prof Ravi Poovaiah
Co-supervisor: Prof Sangeetha Menon (NIAS, Bangalore)

Throughout the history of painting and design, a lot has been written about the painting /design, the process of creation, the personality of the creator and the experiences of the viewer about the painting/design. But the creator has been, surprisingly, kept out of the purview of discussion. What does it mean for the creator to create? What is the creator’s experience of the creative moment? An initial study revealed that within the process of creation, the artists experienced a sub-conscious shift into a higher mental space, and this experience was transformative in quality. This shift is the artist’s individual experience which is highly personal and repeatable albeit very unpredictable. The artists termed it 'let go'.

The present study looks at the creative experiences in the domains of visual arts and design. The research focuses on the creative experience of phenomenon of letting go within the creative process. The research was initiated by first defining the premise of letting go phenomenon. The research questions focused on getting an understanding of the event and quality of phenomenon and its various dimensions. The research also looked at the phenomenon of letting go in the domains of Visual arts and Design and hence the research questions addressed the variance in the experience of the phenomenon in the two domains.

Epistemologically, the phenomenon investigated lies in the subjective experiential realm and hence the approach of Hermeneutic Phenomenology was considered as most appropriate. Ten renowned Indian Contemporary artists and ten renowned Indian designers were interviewed. The data was collected by semi structured interview method of time-duration of 1-1.5 hours which was audio-video recorded.

This data was analyzed by the method of Thematic Analysis. The results gave a deep insight into the phenomenon of letting go. The phenomenon of letting go was characterized and defined to give a wholesome understanding of its qualitative premise. The results revealed six dimensions to the phenomenon of letting go. The phenomenon could be typified into progressive types and it had stages through which the phenomenon of letting go is achieved. Qualitatively, the results revealed varied facets of the phenomenon as well as the positive and negative feelings associated the experiences of letting go. The study also threw light on the repeatability of the phenomenon, and the personal methods devised by creators to achieve the phenomenon. And finally, the correlation of aesthetic experience and its comparison to the experience of the letting go phenomenon was also revealed. These dimensions were discovered and identified for both artists and designers and finally, the variance in the dimensions of letting go within both domains was established.

Thus, the research revealed the phenomenon of letting go is an integral part of the self transformative creative experience of the creator. The experience of the phenomenon of letting go is cherished by the artists and designers and they wait for this experience within the creative process.

Publication List:

- International Conference Publication
Investigation of Creative Experience of Creator and Aesthetic Experience of Viewer in Design. Published in International Conference on Research into Design (ICORD '11), 10-12 January 2011, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Author : Aneesha Sharma

- International Peer Reviewed Publication Investigating the experience of 'letting go' in creative process of designers. Aneesha Sharma and Ravi Poovaiah
Published in the book titled, Research into Design: Supporting Multiple Facets of Product Development. (Pp.86-93), Editor: Amaresh Chakrabarti, Publisher: Research Publishing, Singapore, 2009 ISBN: 978-981-08-2277-4
Author : Aneesha Sharma and Ravi Poovaiah

- A Heuristic Inquiry into the phenomenon of 'letting go' in creative process of designers.
National Workshop on Qualitative Research Methods: Potential for the Science of Well-Being and Self-Growth, 24-27th February, 2010, IIT-Kanpur
Author : Aneesha Sharma

- Book chapter in the book titled, Qualitative Research on Well-Being and Self-Growth: Contemporary Indian Perspectives, edited by Dr.Kumar Ravi Priya and Dr.Ajit K. Dalal. The book is awaiting publication.

Contact details:

Industrial Design Centre,
IIT Bombay,
Powai, Mumbai 400076


E-mail: aneesha.sharma[at]      

RD-506, Purva Riviera

Airport- Whitefield Road
Phone: 080-41651487
Email: aneesha.sharma[at]