David Bowie’s ‘cut-up’ technique
David Bowie was a prolific artist.
During the course of his career he created 25 studio albums, nine live albums and more than 100 singles.
Even more impressive than the volume of his output was it’s consistency.
Any artist will admit to the struggle of trying to create good work over and over again. Many struggle to repeat the success of their early years.
How then was Bowie able to achieve this so easily?
One possible answer lies with his inspired method for generating ideas.
He would cut out random words and phrases from newspapers and hand-written notes, mix them all together and then rearrange them in new combinations.
These hybrid creations would then spark new ideas and themes for his music.
This technique wasn’t a new invention and can be traced back to the Dada art movement of the 1920s.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the writer William Burroughs helped to popularise this approach and may even have been the inspiration for Bowie.
It’s effectiveness as a tool is likely due to the fact that it forces the mind to move in unexpected directions thereby avoiding the well trodden paths that result in creative stagnation.
So when you next find yourself in this situation, give this method a try.
It might just unlock your next big idea.