The Creative Genius Myth


Welcome to Episode 4 of The Creative Life podcast. In this episode, we look at how a Renaissance PR man helped bring ‘The Creative Genius Myth’ into existence.

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In this episode you’ll discover:

  • The dirty little secret in the creative industries
  • The lone creative genius
  • Big C creatives and Small C creatives
  • Steve Jobs, Michelangelo, Walt Disney
  • Giorgio Vasari and the idea of ‘divine Michelangelo’
  • Building your small army or team
  • The film director role of the creative leader
  • Do the work

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.



The Creative Genius Myth

Hi! It’s James Taylor…

I want to let you into a dirty little secret, and it’s very pervasive in popular culture, and also in the creative industry as well. This idea is the creative genius.

You will often hear in creativity talk about the big “C” creatives and the small “C” creatives. The big “C” creatives are the Da Vincis, the Picasso’s, the Hemingways, the Steve Jobs and the Walt Disney’s. There is something worldly about these people. They are held up in a certain kind of way as being these lone creative geniuses.

But here’s the thing… It’s false. The idea of the lone creative genius is a myth. It was first created in 1550 by a gentleman named Giorgio Vasari who wrote a book about Renaissance artist. At that point, he held up Michelangelo as the “Divine Michelangelo,” as this lone creative genius. But what we know today is that this was nonsense. Michael Angelo had a small army of assistants. We see the bills and receipts today of these assistants, doing all the work on Michael Angelo – the “great works of Michelangelo.”

The idea of lone creative genius is something that was made up by a Renaissance PR man. That is not reality.

The reality is most creative individuals who have achieved a great creative piece of work have a small army of people around them, or a team to help them achieve their vision because Michael Angelo is actually more like a film director. He brings together a team of technically talented people, provide them with a vision, and help execute to follow that vision.

This idea on creative genius is just nonsense. It is not something that you should entertain. This is a concept made up by a 16th Century PR guy named Asari. Don’t fall for it.

Instead, don’t believe the hype. Create a creative team around it. Invest time in looking for the right people. Invest time in building a team around you

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