If you know anything at all about Kanye West, you’ll know that the man considers himself to be extremely creative, almost to a fault. His track record speaks for itself, having won 21 Grammy Awards, released 8 albums, and worked on several clothing and footwear lines ranging from Pastelle to Louis Vuitton and Nike to adidas.
Thankfully for us, Kanye West is anything but stingy with the secrets to his creative success. Taking to his recently reactivated Twitter account yesterday, West shared some very interesting thoughts on creativity and how to harness it.
This comes after the rapper-turned-designer shared some early renderings of his YEEZY Boost 350 sneaker and a Gosha Rubchinskiy-designed neck tattoo.
We’ve rounded up the advice and tried to explain some of his Tweets in more detail below.
On not selling yourself short (or for less than your actual worth)
“As a creative your ideas are your strongest form of currency”
This one is very straight forward. If your ideas are your livelihood, then don’t give them away for free. Make people pay you for what you’re best at. In addition to charging for your creative service, you need to make sure you’re able to continue to be creative. If you’re a creative that can’t create you’re in trouble. So, protect your ability to create at all costs.
On making sure you reach your full potential
“Try to avoid any contractual situation where you are held back from your ideas”
This has Nike written all over it. West has consistently claimed he wasn’t allowed to let his creative juices flow while signed to the Swoosh. Now at adidas, it seems he’s a lot happier with how much freedom he has to do what he wants. While those rumors are unsubstantiated and clearly ’Ye’s personal opinion, he evidently feels strongly enough about it to mention it once again.
Let this be a warning to everyone not to let an employer make you feel you aren’t operating at your full creative potential. While it’s painful for anyone in any sort of profession to be denied the freedom to develop and reach their full potential, it must be that much more excruciating for creatives like West.
On keeping your eyes on the prize
“Distraction is the enemy of vision”
You can’t see if you’re blinded. Or something to that effect. Make sure you’re always 100 percent focused on what you’re doing because, according to Kanye, the slightest distraction can cause you to lose sight of the end goal.
On working through a creative block
“Sometimes you have to get rid of everything”
This one confused a lot of people and even got Kim Kardashian West’s attention. What does everything mean? Honestly Kanye probably meant everything that distracts from the creative process. But it’s much more entertaining thinking of ’Ye getting rid of his family, friends, 21 Grammy Awards, and possibly YEEZYs in the name of creativity.
Chrissy Teigen also got in on the action, offering Kardashian West a spot on her trusty air mattress.
But if we’re going to seriously dissect this tweet, the rapper-turned-designer could be talking about two things. Either he means ridding yourself of all distractions or he could be alluding to the fact that sometimes stripping everything away and starting fresh is the best way to bring the best out of yourself. If you’re not getting any further on a project, instead of trying to work around the creative block, you might be better off getting rid of everything and starting with a blank canvas and no restrictions.
On choosing love over fear
“Everything you do in life stems from either fear or love”
This is Kanye West’s “fight or flight” principle for the origins of creativity. Yeezy would rather you go down the love path, though, as his next tweet explains, “fear often causes people to be manipulative.”
On transparency and avoiding overcomplication
“Be [as] transparent as possible. Stop setting plays. Stop playing chess with life. Make decisions based on love not fear.”
Kanye West is both an extremely complex humanbeing as well as a straight-shooting, no BS, as transparent as they come type of guy. Maybe what ’Ye means here is that life has a plan and sometimes its not worth struggling (playing chess) against that plan. You’ll get to where you’re supposed to be regardless and living in the moment can sometimes be much more rewarding that setting plays and trying to plan out your life – especially if you’re a creative.
He touches again on making decisions based on love, not fear. Fear holds you back and causes you to hide, manipulate, and try to control things that may be out of your control anyway. Basically Kanye is saying, “sit back, relax, and enjoy life.”
“trend is always late”
A lot in fashion and the creative industries is cyclical, especially trends. What Kanye means here is that once something has finally been established as a trend it’s already late to the party. A trend is down to followers picking something up from an influencer and ’Ye probably doesn’t think that followers of a trend can be considered creative.
So, to be creative you have to start trends and then move on to the next thing, rather than waiting to ride whatever wave is highest at the moment.
Now, West has gone on to continue his inspirational tirade. West has spoken on enjoying your own imagination and following your own vision, refusing to operate out of fear, remaining in the moment, building on the ideas of others, and parenting. He also dove into his forthcoming philosophy book that he is writing in real time.
What do you think of Kanye West’s most recent advice? Do you agree with his sentiments? Let us know in the comments.
Next, see what others like Virgil Abloh and Demna Gvasalia have to say about creativity here.