The music world took a hard hit this week, with the sudden passing of one of rock’s biggest legends: David Bowie. Bowie left a deep impact on the music, art and fashion worlds, leaving an even deeper void with his passing. Ever-changing and evolving with the tides of cultural and social influence, he led the charge in living an authentic and beautifully strange life. In one word, Bowie was genuine.
In his near 50 year career, David Bowie defied the status quo, breaking down gender, aesthetic and musical boundaries. This fearlessness and authenticity was the essence of his longevity—he refused to be bound by cheap trends, opting to take the long, hard road when developing his many personas. This approach to art and life solidified Bowie’s supremacy as a creative genius and overall pop powerhouse.
David Bowie’s career demonstrates the importance of staying curious, hungry and open to change at all stages of your life. Years of devoted fandom have taught us some important lessons on authenticity, lessons that individuals, marketers and brands could benefit from:
Learn to Think Differently
Bowie was known for having an unorthodox work style. To keep from stagnating, he would often employ the use of free-association and cut-up techniques to formulate his ideas. Seeing words or images thrown together side by side, in a free-form configuration inspired Bowie to think outside his own preconceived ideas and opened him up to new concepts and ways of seeing.
Partner with Those Who Inspire You
A big source of inspiration for Bowie came from the partnerships he made with fellow artists and musicians he admired. By working with the likes of Freddy Mercury, Brian Eno, Iggy Pop (just to name a few), Bowie was able to collaborate on projects he would not otherwise undertake on his own. This experience led him to experiment and apply new concepts to his own work, shaping them to take the form of new and exciting art.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Traveling to new destinations, talking to people you wouldn’t normally converse with, exposing yourself to new experiences—this was Bowie’s MO from the get-go. Early on, Bowie understood that the only way to create truly unique work was to leave his comfort zone and learn to confront things that he would otherwise find strange or disorienting.
Invest in Yourself
In spite of his rock star status, Bowie was a smart businessman. He knew that he would need a solid business system to give him time to work on the things that interested him. Tour managers, administrators, personal assistants were all expertly managed to turn the Bowie brand into a highly effective organization, thus freeing up the valuable time and resources he needed to pursue the interests and experiences that ultimately made him successful.
Go rogue. Be a contrarian. Challenge the status quo. The only way to break free from convention is to challenge it. Authenticity is found in those rare moments of rebellion. No one got to rule the world by being a yes-man, and certainly not our man, David Bowie.
A star among stars, Bowie will live on forever through his art—a legacy that will never fade. We miss you, we salute you.
Written by Elena Harper