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.
Somewhere 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”
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.