Pablo Picasso, The Rolling Stones, This Blog, And You.

12 responses.

What do Pablo Picasso, the Rolling Stones, and this blog have in common?

It’s not reach, it’s not renown, and it’s certainly not status. But all three do reach a particular audience, all three have been prolific, and all three have some hits and some misses. Plus there’s something else.

DoveSomewhere in the middle of his career, Picasso ran out of things to paint. Worse, he also lost the inspiration to create something new. Needless to say, Picasso’s agent was climbing the walls, wondering when his prized client was going to start working and provide his gallery with art to sell again. But no matter what the agent tried – yelling, cajoling, bribery – he couldn’t get Picasso painting.

Then one day Picasso called his agent and asked him to stop by his studio. When the agent arrived, he was stunned to see that the walls of the studio were covered with bright, colorful paintings. Picasso was back!!

After the agent had examined all the work and probably calculated how much all of the new canvases were worth, he asked Picasso the obvious question – “What was it that made you start creating again?”

Picasso responded, “I still haven’t created anything.”

“Then who did all this work?” The agent asked.

The artist told a quick story. He was depressed about having lost his muse and was wandering aimlessly through the streets and alleyways of Paris. Suddenly he came across a gallery opening and stopped in to grab a free glass of champagne when he realized that all of the work on the walls looked like Picassos. He’d been ripped off.

“So THAT’S what did it?” asked the agent. “Seeing that someone else was doing what you do inspired you to create something new?”

“No,” answered the artist disdainfully. “I haven’t started creating again. This work looks exactly like my old work. I just figured that if that guy could copy Picasso then Picasso could copy Picasso.”

The Stones started playing around England in the early sixties and so far their discography consists of 29 studio albums, 17 live albums, 30 compilation albums, and 110 singles. But most Stones fans will agree that it was during their early years that they put out their five best recordings – Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed (my personal favorite), Exile On Main Street (a very close runner up) and Goats Head Soup. Yes, I know some of you would add Their Satanic Majesties Request and Some Girls to the list to which I say “pshaw”

Album Covers

The thing is, the last album on the list – Goats Head Soup – came out in 1973 and since then the Stones have released 61 more albums but nothing that competes with those five. To be fair, many of the 61 are best-of compilations or live recordings and a few are the band’s attempts to be relevant during disco and new wave. But since the early 80s what the Rolling Stones have really been is the world’s best Rolling Stones cover band – continuously recreating what they’d already done. What the Stones did was channel Pablo Picasso and copy themselves.

And so this blog is a lot like Pablo Picasso and The Rolling Stones in that it too has endured over a number of years (c’mon, you didn’t really think I was going to compare myself to those two icons by quality or notoriety did you?). And while it’s often chock full of new ideas and new directions, there are times when my posts are simply renewed versions of what’s come before.

When I started this blog, one thing I promised you was that I would be totally transparent and share what I was doing and what I learned. As I see it, this blog is a journey we’re taking together in harnessing new media and my goal is not just to communicate what I’m thinking about but also to share what I learn so you can benefit from the technology too.

Lately I’ve spoken to a few people who are interested in creating their own blog but are worried about the time commitment or hesitant because they don’t think they’ll be able to create new things week after week after week. And while I certainly understand and have experienced those concerns, I’ve also learned that just like the Rolling Stones and Pablo Picasso, sometimes the best ideas to copy are your own.

  12 Responses

  1. on July 31, 2013

    Thanks Bruce, for the enlightening post, and the great blog!

    I remember in the late 90’s I saw an interview with a “blogger” (before a blog was a thing) who said that he came he realized that his goal was to find 20,000 other people who were passionate about the same thing that he was passionate about, and then create content specifically for them.

    It turned out that when you’re passionate about something and are able to express it creatively, you will find that many more people than you expected are passionate about the same thing.

    The two things that will stop you are: Waiting until something is perfect & trying too hard.

  2. on July 31, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this age old lesson in such a refreshing way and reminding me that everything I write about or share doesn’t have to be a “new” lesson at all.
    Sometimes our most enlightening experiences come from revisiting where we’ve been with fresh eyes.
    Wishing you well-
    Nanette

  3. Donna Arduin
    on July 31, 2013

    Bruce, is this your blue period?!

  4. on July 31, 2013

    Close, Donna. It’s my blues period!!

  5. Bill Chambers
    on July 31, 2013

    Bruce shows us how easy it is to come up with blog verbiage week after week, especially when one starts with a fine cerebral cortex brimming with a knowledge base of Art, History and a solid understanding of humankind. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be a consummate communicator.

  6. on July 31, 2013

    Thank you, Bill. That’s very nice.

  7. Ed Tronick
    on July 31, 2013

    Borges wrote a story of a novelist who wanted to write the world’s greatest novel. Sadly he realized that it had already been written by Cervantes many years before. Dismayed the writer began to copy Don Quixote word for word. After years of copying he was done. The copy written by a different hand and in a different time was different. Such are the dynamics of self change and secular change.

  8. on July 31, 2013

    Inspired post, Bruce. A side note on Picasso, which I’ve used in jury trials. My favorite Picasso works are his “bull series;” nine successive pen and ink drawings of a bull. The first bull is fully rendered, in some detail, with many lines. Each succesive iteration is a degree or two more simple; fewer lines, less detail, but it’s unmistakably the same, very impressive bull. The last iteration is a grand total of four lines that fully capture the bull’s masculine power. I use this to explain to the jury the difference between the simplistic and the simple. The former is superficially appealing but false for its omission of important information. The latter is powerful and true because, by omitting unnecessary detail, it reveals the most fundamental elements that define the subject. So, while Picasso repeated himself with each drawing, he revealed the greater truth of the object with each repetition.

    So, Bruce, that’s something else you have in common with Picasso. You can find “Picasso Bull Series” on Google Images.

    Side note for trial lawyers: At one trial, my oponent jumped up on rebuttal told the jury that my argument was “a lot of bull.” I won anyway.

  9. Richard Schlesinger
    on August 1, 2013

    Hits and misses

    Hit on the Rolling Stones. Miss on Picasso. Story is inaccurate – Picasso was a notorious bluffer. Dialogue is invented.

    The point – when you run out of ideas, just repackage the old ones and sell ’em again – creatively bankrupt but potentially lucrative. Most creative people – most, not all – only have one idea anyway.

  10. on August 1, 2013

    Glad you agree with my take on the Stones.
    Of course the Picasso dialogue was invented, Richard. Last time I checked, none of us were in Paris when Picasso was at his heights. The story is apocryphal but that doesn’t make it any less insightful.
    As for your contention that “Most creative people…only have one idea anyway,” that’s not apocryphal, it’s just plain wrong. Creative people are not creative only once anymore than beautiful people are only attractive once.

  11. on August 3, 2013

    Brilliant insight! Utterly brilliant!

  12. on August 3, 2013

    Thank you, Don.

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