This article on one of my favourite sites: ‘Brain Pickings’ had this article amongst the highlights of this week.

Picasso on Success and Why You Should Never Compromise in Your Art


It certainly got me thinking. I was particularly interested in it because of personal experience. I have often felt that one of the major mistakes I have made in my life was to attempt to compromise – not just in music, but in my whole lifestyle.

During the second half of the 80s I tried to ‘conform’. I tried to stop being a loner – I tried to stop being ‘odd’ (as many – even my closest friends saw me) in favour of a quiet, settled and ‘normal’ life. Of course it failed dismally, and I believe led me into the depression that has blighted much of my life since.

The end result has been that much of my life since then has been marked by poverty.

Financial poverty, yes, that has featured. But that would probably have featured had I refused to conform – no doubt even more so. But far worse than that is the spiritual and creative poverty that drove me down into that ‘dark place’.

Then again it has also thrown challenges in my path that I probably needed to face, and brought me close to people whose loss I have felt so deeply as well as those whose friendship and love I treasure now more highly than any amount of material wealth.

I was never blessed with children. I’m sure to many people that is probably a blessing. However, if I had had kids, I think the advice I would give them would follow Picasso’s lines. I would tell them:

“Accept yourself and believe in what you are.

Once you have found what that is, never stray from it. Don’t let others make you feel inferior – their need to make others feel that way is their biggest inferiority.

Remember that the art of Picasso, the music of Stockhausen, the poetry of Alan Ginsberg, the novels of William Burroughs – these were all regarded as ‘outrageous’ and controversial in their time. But their influence is far greater, I think, than that of their critics. And though their lives may not have always been happy, they were probably  ultimately enriched in fulfilment by the challenges they overcame.

Remember above all that however much you may differ from the ‘norm’, you – as a human creation, a product of all the highs and lows of human evolution – are truly amazing!”