“You have to do stuff that average people don't understand because those are the only good things.” - Andy Warhol
The well-known phrase, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time,” by John Lydgate, (a medieval monk and poet), is particularly relevant in the world of creativity.
Not everybody will like your work. And why should they?
For example, think of a bestselling book that you dislike. It has many readers and fans, but you don’t like it. So what? You don’t need to attack it, or vocalise your dislike of it. Let others hate it and waste their energy on criticising it, just love the work you love.
Or think of a popular band with millions of fans around the world that you dislike. Ask yourself why you don’t like them and what it is about their work that doesn’t interest you.
Not everyone will like your work and that’s the way it should be.
Trying to make an impression on others is not your task. What your job is, is to create.
If you intentionally try to make your work likeable you’re going to severely restrict yourself, sticking to a formula and not expanding your horizons or growing artistically.
Making your work likeable will lead to dumbing yourself down, that is, making something simpler and easier for people to understand, particularly in order to make it more popular.
Even some of the greatest artists have had their detractors.
Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because his editor thought he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
Vincent van Gogh received hardly any acclaim during his lifetime, only ever selling one painting for a small fee to a friend. His paintings have since been sold for up to $82.5 million.
Socrates was labeled as an “immoral corrupter of youth” and his innovative ideas lead to his eventual death sentence.
Be yourself and be faithful to your values and ideals.
Excerpt from 'You Can Create! 24 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Potential'.
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“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
- Vince Lombardi
DON'T LOSE THE SPARK!
I’ve met many people in my life who, while working very hard to produce something, never actually do.
They work at their art, book, business, etc., everyday, but never actually get around to saying to the world: ‘Here is my product.”
Because they get so wrapped in the details of their work, trying to make it as perfect as possible, and getting so bogged down by the details, that they lose that feeling they had right at the beginning, when they were passionate about making something, when they had that initial spark and flash of inspiration.
They lose sight of the original vision and have prevented themselves from finishing their work.
DON'T BE SCARED OF NOT BEING PERFECT
If you find yourself struggling to finish, ask yourself if there is anything more that that particular work needs.
It’s scary, I know.
Making something from nothing, scared of putting it out into the world, scared that people won't think it's any good, scared of rejection.
So we keep going, trying to make it as perfect as possible until we lose all interest in it, get bored with it.
Perfection though, is mostly abut completion.
Being the best at something shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to get better.
Take Apple, for example.
When the first iPhone was released, Apple found found ways to improve it, so they followed it up with another model.
The composer Pierre Boulez often rewrote and reworked his works, often transforming them into something entirely different. Although Boulez may have had an obsessional concern for perfection, this came after he had already produced the work.
He wrote, published and performed the works, then later decided that they needed further work.
PERFECTION IS AN ENEMY
Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection - you’ll never reach it.”
Much of our daily tasks and activities consist of decisions about completion and perfection, from gardening to cooking your food.
We may not always have the time or energy available to complete every daily task to perfection, but they do get done.
Maybe you've decided to clean or decorate the house and it doesn't turn out quite how you like - you simply go back to it another day.
The same with art, it doesn't have to be right the first time.
Sandro Botticelli was one of the greatest Renaissance painters. His earlier works however, show up a lot of flaws that were later ironed out later in life.
Check out his painting The Birth of Venus, below. Possibly his most famous painting and certainly one of the worlds most famous.
Amazing, isn't it?
Check out the feet...
Yes, Botticelli was terrible at drawing feet!
Forget about perfectionism and embrace being as great as you can be be.
Perfection will only hold you back, it’s an enemy.
Focusing on perfection means you could keep putting off your business launch or product release.
You wont get that verse written or you’ll throw what could have been a great painting in the bin.
Make art, but accept that it is not always under you control.
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”
- from Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING ORIGINAL
Don’t try to be original!
We often tend to think of the most innovative works of art, businesses, products, as being entirely original. Look closely enough though and you’ll find that they mostly consist of elements that already existed.
Nothing comes from nowhere.
No creative ever set out to create something original. Originality and innovation came as result of them adding to or taking away elements of previous works and design.
STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Orson Welles’ 1941 film Citizen Kane is frequently regarded as the greatest ever made. Often cited is its technical brilliance that shines through every scene. What Welles did though, is combine as many film techniques as he could into Citizen Kane, making perhaps the most technically accomplished film ever made. There is nothing necessarily new in the film in itself, but the combination of elements makes it so.
Creative work builds upon and deconstructs the works of others:
Beethoven’s early works were imitations of Mozart’s.
Dali was influenced by the work of Raphael and Vermeer.
Steve Jobs was influenced by the blending of art and science by Edwin Land (co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation).
The great Soviet film maker Andrei Tarkovsky has had an enormous influence on the Danish Lars von Trier. One only needs to watch the following video (in which the scenes by Tarkovsky are played side-by-side with scenes by von Trier to see the influence…
YOU ARE ALEADY ORIGINAL
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.” — Jim Jarmusch
What is it you love about the things you love and how could you make something even better?
What is it you dislike about the things you dislike and how could you make something even better?
Think of a film you’ve seen or a book you’ve read or a product you’ve used and ask yourself what you liked about it. Also, what didn’t you like about it? What can you take from that? How can you improve upon it?
You don’t need to be unique in your creative endeavours, you only need to add to the chain.
You are original because only you are you.