I have had that line tacked on my wall for years. Glaser, like many great creative people, got clued into the fact that success can mess your creativity up way more than failure, because if you succeed
people will continue to ask you for what you have already done and succeeded at. This is the way to professional accomplishment–you have to demonstrate that you know something unique that you can repeat over and over and over until ultimately you lose interest in it. The consequence of specialization and success is that it hurts you. It hurts you because it basically doesn’t aid in your development.
In order to have a more meaningful and fruitful creative life, you often have to be ready to walk away from your career successes, or find a balance between what people want from you and what you want to chase after.
“I believe that Picasso as a model is the most useful model you can have in terms of your artistic interests,” Glaser said, “because whenever Picasso learned how to do something he abandoned it, and as a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist, the results were extraordinary.”
I quoted the emphasized part of that line in the last chapter of Show Your Work!
2. “My mother convinced me I could do anything. And my father said, ‘Prove it.’”
In a 2003 interview with Chip Kidd, Glaser described the influence of his parents on his work:
In my parents I had the perfect combination—a resistant father and an encouraging mother. My mother convinced me I could do anything. And my father said, “Prove it.” He didn’t think I could make a living. Resistance produces muscularity. And it was the perfect combination because I could use my mother’s belief to overcome my father’s resistance. My father was a kind of a metaphor for the world, because if you can’t overcome a father’s resistance you’re never going to be able to overcome the world’s resistance. It’s much better than having completely supportive parents or completely resistant parents.
I quoted that story in my SXSW interview with Debbie Millman, a student and friend of Glaser’s.
3. “Can you imagine calling someone a creative?”
An aside from his talk, “10 Things I Have Learned”:
[C]reative – I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow…
I liked that so much I stole it for the “Creative is not a noun” section of Keep Going.
RIP. (For even more, check out this thread of advice to his students.)