Let me qualify that. A rich knowledge of history is better than creativity if your goal is to make money.
The most profitable form of creativity is to repurpose the proven.
Do you want to put together a group of colors that create a powerful effect? Maybe for a website or a sign or a brochure or a living room?
Common sense will tell you to hire an expert. That expert will ask you to describe the feelings you want the color scheme to conjure and then he or she will aim all their education, talent and experience toward doing what has already been done by minds far greater than their own.
Yes, common sense would tell you to hire a talented expert. But common sense is merely the name we give the collection of prejudices we acquire before the age of eighteen. (If you feel you’ve heard that statement before, it’s because Albert Einstein famously said it in the 1952 book, Mathematics, Queen and Servant of the Sciences.) Common sense is overrated.
An enlightened soul who has escaped the boundaries of common sense will quietly inquire of the giants whose footprints went deep into the earth, those giants whose fingerprints can be found on the hearts of billions of people they have touched.
Why pay a lightweight for advice when you can consult Gustav Klimt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh for free?
- Go online and select a series of world-famous paintings whose color palettes have the mojo you seek. (Mojo, by the way, is just the name we give to high-voltage emotional juju. Einstein didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure it’s true, anyway.)
- Download only the paintings of artists who rocked the world.
- Import those paintings into Photoshop and sample each of the four or five principal colors. Click a couple of buttons to reveal the precise CMYK formulation of each. BAM!
No, don’t trust me. Trust the giants.
Lee Iacocca was chosen as one of Ford Motor Company’s ten “Whiz Kids” in 1946. But every time young Lee would go to his boss with a suggestion, his boss would say, “Show me where it has worked.”
Your first impression of this man is that he was a follower, a lemming, a conformist with no courage or imagination, right? But Iacocca credits that boss as being the man responsible for all his later successes. Iacocca learned from him a pivotal lesson: if an idea is truly brilliant, you’ll find examples of its successful implementation scattered throughout history.
The road to bankruptcy court is flanked on both sides by bright-eyed “creative people” dripping with enthusiasm. Ask any one of them for directions. They’ll make sure you get there.
The secret of guaranteed success is to import a tested and reliable methodology into a business category where it has never been used.
Repurpose the proven.
They’ll call you a brilliant creative innovator. You might even be able to patent your breakthrough.
But you and I know the truth. You’re merely an insightful historian.