18 November 2018Last updated

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The man who brings out NASA’s creative side

We chat to visual strategist Dan Goods before his appearance at Dubai’s –ING festival

12 Apr 2017 | 05:04 pm


Producing “a community of creatives who come together to make a positive impact”, founder Ramy Alwassy describes the –ING Creative Festival as an event “focused on creatives making things happen, using talks as an inspiration, workshops as the hands-on element of learning, and networking sessions as the place for collaboration”.

We caught up with one of this year’s speakers and workshop leaders, Dan Goods. A visual strategist for NASA, he goes where no man has been before and bridges the gap between creative thinking and science.

You have been at NASA for over a decade. Why do they need a visual strategist?

It is always good to have people around that think a bit differently than you do. As you might imagine NASA has a lot of scientists, engineers, and business people, but sometimes it is helpful to have someone from a very different background from yourself to look at what you do and to hear from them. We play that role, we listen and then ask questions that are different from their colleagues and it really helps them have a different perspective on their work. We can also help communicate what they are working on in clear and compelling ways to others.

What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on?

We got thousands of people around the world to all send a signal at the same time to a spacecraft that was flying past earth on its way to Jupiter. We had no idea if it would work, and we only had one chance… but it did! It was wonderful to have so many people from different countries working together on a common purpose and you could tell that it meant something to them. 

If Visual Strategists communicate tough concepts in a way that is easier for people to understand, it sounds like we could do with some visual strategy in other areas of our lives. If you could use your art/creativity to help spread the message of any issue, what would it be?

I work on lots of projects outside of NASA. One of them - that we are still in the planning stages of - is called the ‘Museum of Awe’. It’s a mixture of art, science, theater and food whose aim is to remind people of the gift and privilege of being alive. It’s an experience that will happen not in a museum but in places that you would least expect to find such a thing, such as an abandoned building. I think it is easy to be jaded, and distracted by our fast-paced culture, so we don’t see the awe and wonder that is all around us. Our job will be to help people see the world as if they are a 3-year-old, because to a 3-year-old the whole world is the museum of awe!

What will you be doing at the –ING Creative Festival?

My colleague David Delgado spoke at –ING last year and met so many interesting people from different cultures and I’m excited to do the same. I hope to pull at people’s emotions and have them rethink why they do what they do.

The -ING Creative Festival runs from April 13th-15th. Visit