Creativity and David Bowie

Creativity and David Bowie

aladdinsaneJanuary is International Creativity Month, and the sad fact that David Bowie passed away on January 10 has many people marveling at the extraordinarily creative person he was. How can his creative processes inspire us? His list of accomplishments is staggering: singer, songwriter, performer, record producer, actor, playwright, visual artist, and successful businessman.

Cameron Crowe remembers him by stating, “He always served the gods of creativity.”

Time and again, David Bowie demonstrated his ability to stay ahead of the curve by handpicking cultural influences and refashioning them into his own work. To name a few of his adaptations: the avant-garde, androgynous identity, science fiction, German minimalism, soul, blues, punk, and the New York underground.

These were aspects of Mr. Bowie’s modus operandi. Embracing creativity and applying it to our own lives is something we all can do, in our own way, whether the task at hand is a piece of writing, a quilt, song, business/marketing idea, recipe, photograph, drawing, computer program, or workout plan…anything we might take on. low

Writer and game designer Monte Cook, in a recent online article ( compiled a list of approaches David Bowie did NOT take as regards the creative process:

  • Look to what successful people are doing, and then do that.
  • Listen to what the “market” wants, and then produce that.
  • Figure out how the “system” works, so you can work within it.
  • You’ve got to make compromises.
  • You’ve got to lower your expectations.
  • If you find something that garners some success, grab that by the tail and don’t ever let go. Success is rare, so if you get hold of it, milk it for all you can.
  • Capitalize on your past successes.
  • You aren’t allowed to reinvent yourself.
  • A creative person’s window for good work is limited.
  • Your ability to produce creative work diminishes over time.
  • Play it safe. Do what’s popular.
  • You’ll never be successful being who you are.
  • Don’t take risks with your career. Even a modest success is better than chancing a colossal failure.

Below are further thoughts from the internet on David Bowie’s life lessons about creativity. May we put them to good use in our endeavors. Whatever our project might be, we can take a page from his extensive book and apply it to our own work, hobbies, and activities. It’s never too late to be inspired, learn something new, or adopt a fresh approach.


  • 5 Creativity and Marketing Lessons from David Bowie

  • 5 Inspiring Lessons in Creativity You Can Learn From David Bowie

  • 10 Creative Lessons from Bowie in Berlin

  • 8 lessons David Bowie taught us


Clermont County Public Library also possesses many helpful resources on creativity. Here are a few: