Mingus on creativity: making the complicated simple

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Charles Mingus was one of the greatest jazz artists and composers of the 20th century. He was temperamental, opinionated and inarguably a genius. He said about creativity, “Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

This quote is a great reminder that just adding more ideas or flourish to a project doesn’t necessarily make it more creative, just different. Breaking something down to its base components and expressing it clearly and concisely is the best way to filter it through yourself.

Let your art be what it is, don’t dress it up with unnecessary bits. Don’t try to hide your flaws with extraneous distractions. When you are at your best, everything that you do carries your stamp, no need to more than that.

In fact, I think Mingus thought that first quote was too complicated, because he simplified it later:

Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple. – Charles Mingus

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