How rubbish would Picasso be today? | DMA

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How rubbish would Picasso be today?


You know that moment when you lean back on the back two legs of your chair and you suddenly realise that you’ve pushed it too far, you can feel yourself toppling backwards… then just as you think you’ve lost complete control and there’s only one way you’re going to go you somehow correct yourself, lean forward and the front legs of your seat rest with a bump back on the ground, leaving you a little scared and a little shocked.

That’s what fear feels like… well to me anyway.

I feel it every time I walk out of a new briefing. Normally I head straight to the kettle (all very Eastenders) to literally stew on what’s been presented.

The good news? I found out last week all tangible emotions, like fear, only last 90 seconds. So what I believed was the calming influence of making a brew, was just a mere diversion until fear subsided and the hunt for something new and original became a little more doable.

Sadly those 90 seconds (coupled with that feeling of fear) is just the right amount of time to go plummeting into Pinterest for so called inspiration. 90 seconds is just enough time to fill your creative arteries with the fatty deposits of a Google search. 90 seconds is the perfect amount of time to start a creative process that has more to do with archeology than it does moonshots.

In fact, I believe it’s never been easier to create shit work.

It’s never been easier because we are surrounded by tools, apps and so called online inspiration to make the creative life easier.

The truth is they don’t.

The more we poke our dipsticks into the gloom of a well trodden search engine the more regurgitated our work seems to get. Copying someone else and changing it a bit isn’t being creative or innovative, it’s just crap and it’s lazy.

The other problem with jumping on a search engine, first stop Google, is you start to pause on the things you like, it’s incredibly easy to create boards that talk to you. And each pin you drop or video you watch has the danger to take you further away from the audience your work should be talking to.

And as easy as it is to create utter tosh, it’s even easier to procrastinate to a level of zero output.

I wonder if Picasso would be rubbish if he were working today?

Impossible to answer.

But in an age that has more diversions than a flood-hit town by the Thames, I would happily wager that his output wouldn’t be as prolific. The world spins, time moves on and our values evolve/devolve depending on our viewpoint.

As a media driven society, most of us see more value in being seen to do stuff than we do in the actual doing. From leisure, to cooking, to showing ourselves getting ready to embark on our next creative odyssey. Throw into the mix our love of binging on box-sets and shooting up 64 bit zombies (I know they’re made of polygons now, but I prefered the flow).

In ‘The Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell’s book, he introduced the world to the 10,000 hour rule, which, if you haven’t read it, explains that it takes about 10,000 hours worth of practice before you can become truly brilliant at anything. He cited the Beatles and their 8 hours a day gigging in Hamburg as one of his examples.

That doesn’t mean if you practice loads you’re guaranteed success, it just states success doesn’t come naturally, just being over 7ft tall doesn’t guarantee you’ll be brilliant at basketball, it will certainly give you a natural advantage though.

Picasso had no distractions, apart from booze and women. He painted. He never got lost in ‘Stranger Things’ or shipwrecked his creativity on ‘Love Island’. He didn’t post selfies and cubist stories on Snapchat. He didn’t even know what a zombie was. He just painted. He looked at the world, he had ideas, and then… he painted some more.

With all this in mind, I don’t believe that creatives are worse now. I work and see brilliant, original people around today across the creative industries. Fearless Girl is a great example of this. So if you’re hoping to read about the ‘so-called’ golden era, the 'when we were kings, blah bloody blah' then stick Dave Trott in your search engine and fill your boots. Then and now? Incomparable. So don’t try.

But here’s the rub I reckon that 78.4% of ‘creatives’ working in advertising, design, digital, social and marketing are no more creative than a health inspector in a kebab van.

Wearing trainers and a T-shirt is just a uniform, it doesn’t mean you’re creative. Tattoos, beards and avocados don’t make you creative. Working with Apple, signing up to D&AD and supping booze brewed from the Bermondsey Beer Mile (or some micro brewery in your part of the world) doesn’t make you creative. Having a killer Instagram following doesn’t make you creative. Wearing a Breton stripe doesn’t make you Picasso.

You don’t have to be cool (let’s be honest who is?) or have superpowers to think of original ideas, but it does need superhuman effort to think of them.

Great work is bloody hard work.

There aren’t any shortcuts, it’s impossible to be the same but different.

Be yourself, turn off your Wi-Fi, hack out your own path, put in the hours, leave blood on every page and never… and I mean… never let anybody else bring your benchmark down to their level.

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