Picasso and the Value of Creativity
I had dinner the other night with my long-time colleague, friend and copywriter extraordinaire, Jake Poinier, and his wife. We met at a local favorite, an intimate dining establishment in the Arcadia district of Phoenix called Chelsea’s Kitchen.
It was a brisk winter evening and we were seated at a sublime outdoor table, adjacent to a glowing, stone fireplace and underneath a toasty gas-fired lamp heater. I had my cup of French press coffee, and was enjoying the perfect setting, the outstanding food and captivating conversation—which meandered from our mutual love of sailing adventures to his family’s year-long stint in Canada to our crazy pet antics.
When the topic turned to the value of creativity, Jake shared a tale about Pablo Picasso. One day, a women approached the famous painter at one of his Paris café hangouts, and asked if he were the “real” Picasso. When she was convinced that he was, she asked if he would paint a portrait of her.
Picasso obliged and got out his artist tools, had her pose and began to create her likeness. With a few brief strokes of color, he completed the sketch. The woman was amazed at how brilliant and beautiful the portrait had turned out—and in such a short time!
She asked Picasso how much she owed him for his work and he replied, “five thousand dollars.” She gasped and then groused, “It only took you a few minutes to draw my portrait, yet you want to charge me a year’s wages?”
“Ah, but that is where you are wrong,” Picasso said, “To create your portrait, Madame, took a lifetime.”
The story, as Jake readily confessed, is almost surely apocryphal. Like Winston Churchill and Yogi Berra, Picasso is notorious for having generated such anecdotes and countless variations. Beneath the too-clever-for-reality repartee, however, there lies a certain truth: We are the sum total of our experiences. For those of us in creative fields, that can sometimes feel like a curse—how do you value creativity in a way that makes sense to someone outside the field? But more often than not, it’s a blessing—in the form of an ever-growing wellspring of ideas from which to draw.
For those who procure the services of creative minds, therein lies the true value—what we produce and deliver is also more valuable than the sum of the literal time spent on creating it. A brilliant idea may come sooner or sometimes later, but if it brings your message success—it’s priceless.
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