Singer Amy Winehouse died this weekend at the age of 27. Her creative talent and music were both wonderful and tragic at the same time. How ironic and prescient that someone who continually battled deadly addictions will be best remembered for her biggest song, “Rehab,” about how she refused to stay in rehab. Talk about life and art converging.

Having learned of Amy Winehouse’s death Saturday on Google+ (which is perhaps the start of a shift away from learning about celebrity deaths on Twitter), I shared the news with the comment, “Talent isn’t always visited upon those who are prepared for it.”

In today’s society where widely recognized creative talent seems to be equated with everything that’s valued, it got me thinking about an important reminder:

There are many characteristics we associate with creative talent which, in reality, have no correlation to it.

These characteristics include:

  • Psychological stability
  • Broad intelligence
  • Goodness
  • Beauty
  • Love
  • Respect
  • Education
  • Fame

All you have to do is go through a quick mental inventory of celebrities we’ve seen rise and fall in the past decades to confirm this truism. Yet, it’s all too natural for us to link creative talent with these favorable personality traits and skills which simply aren’t related.

I really enjoyed Amy Winehouse’s music. And Kurt Cobain’s. Yet the public adulation for their creative talents was not only not enough to save them, an inability to deal with adulation may have been a significant part of the early demises each of them faced.

So for as much as creative talents can make us feel full of life, today, unfortunately, feels pretty hollow.  – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4 Responses to “Amy Winehouse – Sometimes Creative Talent Is Just Creative Talent”

  1. Alex says:

    I’ve known some very creative people who were absolute disasters as human beings. I know many, many more creative people who you would probably call “boring” because all they care about is their creative world–everything else bores them. Interesting post.

  2. Robert Alan Black says:


    My own 32 Broken Crayon Traits exercise I have used since I completed a study of the traits of HIGHLY CREATIVE PEOPLE based upon reading of articles about the traits of HIGHLY CREATIVE PEOPLE from J. P. Guilford’s APA presidential address to 1980 does not include any of the traits in your list.

    The study I did resulted in over 450 traits studied, found, written about by nearly150 experts on creativity between 1950 and 1980. The only variable that is relatively consistent across all occupations or arts is FAME for obvious reason, you are not FAMOUS unless you have FAME.

    But fame in your profession, occupation, field, art form only? Fame across the world or only in your country? Fame across the general population?

    The other traits seldom are consistent with HIGHLY CREATIVE people whether they were famous or not, just merely HIGHLY CREATIVE.

    * Psychological stability….many artists, inventors, scientists, had psychological problems or challenges

    * Broad intelligence…Torrance and other researchers found in their studies from the 50s onward that FOCUSED INTELLIGENCE rather than the MYSTICAL and MYTHICAL Renaissance Man or Woman brand of BROAD INTELLIGENCE is found in them

    * Goodness many HIGHLY CREATIVE were SOBs, Bastards, womanizers or manizers, child beaters, perverts of one kind or another, or simply obnoxious and difficult people to be around
    * Beauty—this is a joke. HIGHLY CREATIVE range in attractiveness physically.

    * Love — most HIGHLY CREATIVES only loved what they were passionate about not particular or individual people

    * Respect — this one is very debatable as well

    * Education—hmmm? how many HIGHLY CREATIVE people did not finish high school, college or even elementary school…most became self-educated or self-taught

    * Fame — once again only those who did things that people would accept and praise have become famous.


  3. Guest says:

    Sometimes the bigger the talent –the bigger the character flaws.