I just read this blog-post on this very interesting site and it made me think.
“Nothing IS enough
Materalism is out of control.
Our desire for ‘more’ simply feeds continued discontent.
Our pursuit of ‘things’ that will bring us happiness makes us unhappy.
Our attempts to ‘improve’ our lives is destroying the world in which we live.
We need to change our expectations, and start appreciating life for what it is.
We need to stop thinking that what we have will make us happy…
…and start recognising that we can be happy with what we have.
We need to stop feeling that nothing is enough…
…and start realising that nothing can be enough.
Maybe we just need to stop.”
On the one hand I agree with it.
On the other I don’t.
I don’t agree that attempting to improve our lives has to destroy the world.
But I do agree that just buying stuff is the wrong way to do it.
It’s dull and boring.
Paul Arden once said to me, “I’m not buying anything anymore.
Buying things is just other people’s ideas.
There’s nothing creative or clever in paying other people to do it.
Anyone can buy the same stuff.
It’s just boring.”
But it always has been.
Shopping has never been about creativity.
It’s just a way of showing off wealth.
About as creative as banking.
Just acquiring someone else’s creative thinking.
The only creative act is counting off the notes.
That’s why, traditionally, art school students ‘shopped’ at places other people didn’t.
Oxfam shops, junk yards, army surplus stores, skips, pavements.
It’s not about what you can afford to buy.
It’s about what you can find, what you can see that no one else sees.
Buying stuff is just other people’s ideas.
Really creative people make new combinations from what exists.
Look at Picasso’s most creative pieces.
A gorilla’s head made from two toy cars stuck together.
A bull’s head made from a bike saddle and a handlebar.
An owl made from a rusted trowel.
A stork made from an old bent gas-pipe tap.
A head made from a wooden box, a plate, and some buttons.
A woman with hands made from dinner forks.
A face made from a broken clay urn, with the handle as the nose.
All made from stuff that was lying around, unwanted.
Stuff everyone else just saw as junk.
What was new was the combination.
What he saw that nobody else saw.
Not just what he bought before anyone else bought it.
That’s not creativity.
But that seems to be what passes for creativity in advertising.
Being the first to use the latest computer-graphics technique.
Quickly using the latest digital app before anyone else.
Quickly using the latest internet technique before anyone else.
Being the first to rush in and buy it and show it off.
Despite the fact that it’s going to be out of date as soon as the second and third person does it.
Picasso didn’t rush out and buy the latest bicycle saddle and handlebar before anyone else.
He picked up some rusting old bits of bike that had been lying around for ages.
Unwanted, unnoticed, rubbish.
And he made something amazing from them
Using the latest technique isn’t creativity, it’s just fashion.
It’ll be out of date almost as soon as it runs.
But great ideas never go out of date.
Tell me, if you made VW ‘Snow Plough’ today, wouldn’t it be the best commercial around?
Or the Avis ‘We Try Harder’ campaign, wouldn’t it blow everything else away?
Of Fedex ‘When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There Overnight’ campaign?
Or the ‘Smash Martians’?
Or B&H ‘Iguana’?
Or Lego ‘Kipper’?
Or any one of several dozen ads and campaigns that everyone remembers and talks about decades later.
Ads that didn’t just rely on using the latest fashion, first.
Because just being the first to use the newest technique isn’t creativity.
It’s just shopping.