I try not to write these musings too often for fear that my thoughts on life, creativity and business might become a bit formulaic, but topicality provides the platform for spontaneous thinking, opinions and connections. So, because of a recent event – the impact of which is still sinking in personally – here I am again. Something on a huge scale for creativity happened this week – David Bowie, one of my heroes, died.
Apart from being privileged to see his ground-breaking 1976 monochromatic Isolar gig live in London – one of the first and probably finest rock concerts I’ve ever been to – what David also gave me throughout his soundtrack to my life, was an unceasing desire to create the new.
This love of change, to experiment into the unknown, to find the new, and a recognition that when it happens it’s not always comfortable, is in my blood. I may not look the part or have achieved anything of rockstar status, but these are the parts I look for with creativity and thinking. He showed us through his own techniques in random lyric writing, personification, musical diversity, cultural immersion and conceptual encapsulation, just how effective he was at creating brilliant songs together with the illusion of reinvention and, most importantly, the reality of invention.
The most original work is always timeless, and David Bowie leaves the world an enormous legacy into which we can dip and inspire ourselves whilst on our own personal quests for doing great work. We can marvel that he really did that? and when? with who? And startle ourselves with the realisation that now, in an age when creating so much is possible with so many tools, how he did so much more with relatively little. Therefore we can too if we dare to imagine beyond the Google search bar. One thing he never did was rehash a style or package nostalgia – two of my pet hates in graphic design and branding and often disguised as the exquisite skills of stylists or paraded as a shameless trend participation.
From my perspective, David’s recipe for creating ongoing originality came from the fact that he questioned everything in life around him – and then pushed it hard until he got an original answer. Even as life was drifting away from him, he still saw it as an opportunity to create – with a record release so obviously timed for, and about, his imminent passing.
If the symbolism in his latest video is anything to go by, I for one am hoping that with his immense imaginative talents to harness change, and his ability to renew, it means that he’s stored some fresh things for later release.
But if that turns out to be just unfounded hope, I’ll be content just listening to Young Americans, Station to Station, and Heroes to name only a few of his formative records, whenever I need to find some divine inspiration.
Originally posted as part of Jonathan’s ‘Something for the weekend‘ series on LinkedIn.