Get Shouty

jump off
March 20, 2009, 2:48 am
Filed under: passion


I love the following story:

One of Frank Gehry’s first buildings, was a shopping mall, The Santa Monica Place. It was rigidly geometric and pale pink. He played it safe for investors and went LA-style. He hated it.

Meanwhile, as a direct creative outlet, Gehry went full out Gehry on building his own home. Envision sloping roofs, curvaceous windows, jutting peaks. Think: wacky and wildly organic.

The night of the grand opening of the Santa Monica Place, the president of the real estate company that had hired Frank was at Gehry’s home for a dinner party:

Real estate Exec: What the hell is this?, he said to Frank, looking around Gehry’s house, awestruck.
Frank: Well, I was experimenting, playing with it.
Exec: Well you must like it if it’s your house. You like it, right?
Frank: Yeah. I’m happy with how it turned out.
Exec: So then…the building you just did for us…you can’t possibly like that.
Frank: You’re right, I don’t.
Exec: Then why’d you do it?
Frank: Because I need to make a living.
Exec: Well stop it. Don’t do that kind of work anymore.
Frank: You’re right.

They shook hands that night and decided to quit everything they were working on (they were employing forty people at the time.)

“It was like jumping off a cliff,” Gehry says. “It was an amazing feeling. I was so happy from then on.”

I love the insight that being risk adverse can hide your light and shorten your horizon. Sometimes the value of compromising your vision is too high a cost. While you might have to pay the piper to follow your dreams- the dance you subsequently do may just reward you beyond your expectations.


2 Comments so far
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Creating for art or commerce is the distinction between being an artist or a creative. Unfortunately, early in the game its often also the distinction between poverty and prosperity. Compromise is making your way from commerce to art without too long or deep a detour into poverty. But that detour through poverty is sometimes the only way out of commerce. Anyone bring a GPS?

Comment by Oscar

That’s a stunning story and one that appeals to me. I think there are some people who are learning NOT to be whacky, to be practical and to fit in,and others who are swinging the other side of the pendulum – learning to expand, create, not do what’s been done before. Me, I just kinda bounce from one to another. 🙂

Comment by lpapworth

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