Emma Godfrey Photography  | Switzerland Photographer

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Creative advice from Picasso | Intuition and creativity in photography

Last time I was in London I managed to make it to the Tate Modern to see the Picasso exhibition. He is an artist who has always inspired me and so I have put together some creative advice from Picasso. His way of seeing the world is so much more than the invention of Cubism. What continues to draw me back is his creativity and persistence. His prolific output speaks to a mind that cannot be stilled. It feels as if he is constantly trying to work something out. Whether that be the answer to a question or the right way to pose the question. He comes back to things and looks at them anew, tries them in a different medium.

When I was a child my mother said to me: ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
— Pablo Picasso

There is a link between intuition and creativity in his work. Whenever I see Picassos, in an exhibition or a book, I feel as if I can begin to see inside his head. That connection to his creative process is an aspect that I would love to bring into my own work. There is a sense that his work is never finished, it just moves on from one thought to another. No question is ever answered because in the research you just find more questions. That is a feeling that fascinates me. I am always asking questions. I want to know more because then I can ask more questions. Curiosity is one of the keystones of creativity, without it you are only ever going to imitate the world.

Picasso at the Tate Modern, summer 2018

Picasso at the Tate Modern, summer 2018

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
— Pablo Picasso

Think big and don’t limit yourself

If you want to make a change there is no point dreaming of mediocrity. Dream big, you can always pull yourself back down. Everything you don’t know is only what you haven’t learnt yet. By telling yourself that it is impossible, that you can’t do it, you only prove this to yourself. A challenge isn’t a challenge if you know you can do it.

Let your intuition guide you

The thing about intuition is that it can’t be forced. Intuition is created through all the experiences we have had up to this point. The knowledge we have acquired and the experiments we have made. It is made up far more from our mistakes than our successes. Creativity and inspiration come about through hard work, perseverance and just getting stuck into whatever it is that you are working on.

If you self-edit too much then you limit where your intuition might take you. That’s why drafts are important. Ideas that you haven’t had yet come up in drafts as your instinct takes over and chance pops in. If you try to make a finished product from the start, inspiration will have a harder time finding you.

I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head. What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.
— Pablo Picasso
An experiment from a project looking at the sea

An experiment from a project looking at the sea


The idea that you only have one personal ‘style’ along with achieving success only limits what you could be. Keep reinventing what it means to be you, who you are, what you do, how you react to situations. Experiment in life and in art. If we stop looking for alternative ways of doing or making then we become sterile. The world needs people to keep challenging the status quo, to keep asking questions.

Deciphering what makes up a certain view of the world and then deciding to change just one thing, can create something entirely new. Check out A. J. Kessler’s method for reinventing the wheel.

God is just another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.
— Pablo Picasso
Never allow a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate everything you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.
— Pablo Picasso

Be you, not what you do

Life is an adventure, not a burden to be born. However much the daily grind may grate on you, there are always ways to find that balance between what you have to do and what you want to do. Our personality no longer has to be defined by the job we do. You might be a postie but perhaps you are a short film director who works as a postie.