We trawled through interviews with Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Demna Gvasalia, Rei Kawakubo and Tom Sachs to take advantage of their creative wisdom and gather tips on how you can improve your day-to-day workflow.
From working on multiple projects, focusing on the fundamentals, and even just taking time to browse the internet, these creative leaders have learned through trial and error the best way to increase productivity.
Browse our roundup of our favorite quotes below — get inspired and get to work.
Virgil Abloh on the importance of humor
“Irony is a tool for modern creativity”
Virgil Abloh is here to make you feel a lot less guilty for your low-key meme addiction. While delivering his Columbia GSAPP lecture earlier this year, Virgil mused on internet culture’s impact on creativity, urging us to not overlook the power of irony. “There’s a reason why we all probably look at 60 memes a day,” he said.
The designer explained: “Modern culture thrives off irony… humor is an entry point for humanity. It’s essential in modern ideas in the creative space.” Basically, don’t take yourself or your work too seriously and don’t always feel the need to log off.
Demna Gvasalia on having multiple projects
“It helps me. At the beginning it was like, okay, it’s going to be like Jekyll and Hyde and I’ll go crazy. But I must tell you, having those in-between moments — it’s like cold and hot showers. I go back and I forget about that day I spent at Balenciaga. It freshens me. For me, it really helps, creatively.”
Obviously, most Highsnobiety readers won’t have to split their creative output between two hugely successful brands, but Demna’s experiences, as relayed to The New York Times, can be applied to any creative pursuit.
It’s often said that creativity is a muscle, so it stands to reason the more you set your mind to creative endeavors, the easier your creativity will flow. To continue the exercise metaphor, if you’re looking to get ripped, you wouldn’t just work out one part of your arm, you’d incorporate different elements into your routine. Working on multiple projects simultaneously doesn’t need to mean spreading yourself thin; instead it can spark ideas that you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of.
Tom Sachs on why you shouldn’t improvise
“The idea of ‘creativity is the enemy’ is to do the work that is set out before you and not to improvise unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Tom Sach’s famous Ten Bullets work (see below) states that ‘creativity is the enemy.’ By this, the artist doesn’t mean that creating work is the problem. Instead, he’s criticising the constant drive towards innovation.
As he explained to Huck Magazine in the above quote, in place of a constant Apple-like push for whatever is new, Sach’s is advocating for artists and creatives to focus on a creating a solid foundation of work, before beginning to branch out and innovate.
Kanye West on treating art like sport
“I approach creativity like a sport, where if I have a drawing I react just like a jock: LOOK AT THE FUCKING DRAWING RIGHT THERE YEAH!”
Creativity is one of Kanye’s favorite subjects (aside from himself), so it was difficult to narrow his wisdom down to one quote. But the above snippet, which comes from his 2015 Oxford speech, is such an interesting take on creativity that we had to include it. Kanye is known for being his own cheerleader, but if his positive reinforcement has had an impact on his creative life, then it’s definitely worth a shot.
Rei Kawakubo on restricting yourself
“This is the rule I always give myself: that nothing new can come from a situation that involves being free or that doesn’t involve suffering.”
Rei Kawakubo is notoriously private but in her 2013 Creative Manifesto shared with System Magazine, the designer shared her way of approaching creativity. While describing your creative process as involving “suffering” may seem extreme, for Rei she has to give herself limitations in order to approach a situation in a creative way. Or, as she explains elsewhere in her manifesto, so she can “break the idea of ‘clothes.’”