The trap of success and some thoughts

I have nothing to do with this. I can’t talk from experience except for all the small, invisible, highly valuable personal victories we all have in common. Call it finding a product in discount or getting a promotion. Getting good grades or finding a fulfilling spouse. If something good came your way, it’s likely success. Or at least you can call it that.

Many artists have talked about the prison of success and how it affects their creativity, but what are they talking about? More success must lead to more freedom, right?

The more you are successful and recognized by the public, the less change the public wants. The world puts a stamp on you. You are in this box now. Trying stuff out and experimenting is not forbidden per se but only if it aligns with what they, the audience, like.

Now, this is not the fault of the public or anyone of that matter. It just a defense mechanism in what we love. It’s like someone is destroying something you love and it doesn’t matter if that someone is its creator. You protect it.

The first time I heard this — and realize what it meant — was in an interview with Vangelis, the famous composer. In one instance Vangelis was talking about the music industry and how people perceive you once you get any kind of success or recognition. The interviewer went on to argue that with fame and success you must have artistic freedom to do whatever you want. Vangelis smiled and said imagine changing the taste of coca-cola. You become a prisoner to what the audience wants. The interviewer laughed because he got it.

Another example I heard was from Scott Adams. Scott is best known for his Dilbert comic strip. He again, in the same way, described how once Dilbert took off, it was really hard for him to come up with new stuff. Another cartoon would always be compared with Dilbert, and thus end up as just another cartoon.

While success often sounds and seems elusive, most people can’t handle it. Many people don’t even want it. It is a result of what they do and prefers to be left alone to do just that.