Advice for Artists – John Cleese on Creativity

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In a 35-minute video, John Cleese – who, as part of Monty Python, has been one of the 20th century’s most innovative, creative people – spoke about minutes about creativity.

Unfortunately, the video vanished, online. Looking for it again in late 2020, all I could find were “removed for copyright infringement” notices.

Meh. (I’m tempted to rant about copyright hoarding at the expense of creatives, but I’ll skip that… for now.)

This may be a clip from it:

I’m glad I’d taken notes. Cleese made some very good points.  Sure, he’s been a little silly, excessively political, and downright pompous at times.   However, I like it when he says things like:

Creativity is not a talent. It is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

…It’s not an ability that you either have or you do not have… it’s an ability to play.”

Thanks to Robert Genn‘s Painters Keys for suggesting this. In his related post, Genn said…

“To be creative we need five conditions,” Cleese says. “Space, Time, Time, Confidence and Humour.” Yep, “Time” comes twice.

In other words, Cleese stressed the importance of time… not just productive time, but time that’s necessary to get that open space in your mind.

To someone else, it might look like you’re doing nothing, or nothing of importance.

However, it’s one of the most essential parts of being creative, and allows you to cast off the limiting and distracting thoughts that stand between you and that necessary, open space.


If you find that 35-minute video online, let me know. It was a gem.

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