15 January 2016
The news of David Bowie’s death reverberated through the world and caused an outpouring of words of affection, admiration and grief at the loss of such an incredible artist.
Bowie was known for his creativity which included not only his music and lyrics but his physical appearance and the personas he created.
Any individual seeking creative inspiration can find a gold mine of it in Bowie’s life and work.
Here are some ways David Bowie manifested as a creative genius.
Bowie was famous for his ability to constantly reinvent himself. Even in the early days of his fame in the late ’60s – early ’70s, he experimented with different styles from hippie-folk to heavy metal. Perhaps his greatest transformation was the invention of the rock persona Ziggy Stardust. At the time, many felt that Bowie could have ridden the fame and popularity of his Ziggy persona to the end of his career, but at the height of his popularity, he decided to kill Ziggy and move on to other experiments. In America, he explored funk and soul music and then released his most popular album “Let’s Dance” which was the ultimate ode to rock and the most popular of his career. But even the popularity of this album didn’t tempt him to ground his artistic vision and his next phase was a Berlin-inspired industrial and house/electronica experiment.Bowie’s ability to keep moving forward and constantly explore new artistic styles are what made him the icon he became.
Indulge in Artistic Angst but Don’t Self-Destruct
Bowie had some dark moments in his career. One of his most successful and yet darkest phases was during the time he spent in LA. The glamour and glitz of LA stardom, the parties and cocaine-fueled recording sessions sent him on a tailspin into darkness. Unlike other stars riding their fame into self-destruction, like Iggy Pop, Bowie was able to put an end to that phase when he left LA and moved to Berlin.
Change of Scene Can Be Inspiring
Just as his move from the UK to LA proved to be an enormous boon to his career, his decision to leave LA and station himself in Cold-War Berlin was another artistically driven choice. The grit and realism of Berlin was the complete opposite of the surreal opulence of LA. The experience grounded him as he moved into yet another creatively experimental phase.
Collaborate with Other Artists
Bowie enjoyed working with other artists and some of his greatest creative endeavors were the result of these collaborations. Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, Brian Eno and Iggy Pop were included in some of his most successful team projects. He once famously called the then virtually unknown guitarist Phil Palmer at his mother’s house to ask him to collaborate on an album since he felt his own guitar skills were subpar. He was known for being generous and respectful of other people’s work and didn’t let fame or ego get in the way of his artistic vision.
Set Your Standards and Stick to Them
No matter how famous he became, Bowie didn’t abuse his fame. He held himself to a strict work ethic. Though he had a phase where he lost himself in drugs, particularly cocaine, he always managed to pull himself together to perform, record and give interviews. His foil during his LA years was Iggy Pop, who became known for his unpredictability and where Iggy allowed himself to be dragged under by his drug addiction, Bowie set limits for himself and maintained his professional ethics.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown
Bowie was always pushing the boundaries of his art. He was never repetitive or boring. Each album was borne of a daring new journey into unknown waters as he constantly sought to find a new voice and a new inspiration. He explored with musical technology and was known for being fearless and pioneering. His natural curiosity allowed him to follow many different artistic paths to the delight of his fans and music lovers.
Bowie’s artistic vision was fueled by his constant striving for newness. He never allowed himself to settle into one style or voice and as a result, his life’s work is rich and diverse.
Useful samples and examples: