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Following Picasso's example - by Tim Atkin

I came across a quote by Picasso the other day. The great artist was writing about the dangers of success, all too apparent in the week of the great, inspirational but all too fragile Sinéad O’Connor’s death. Picasso worried about what recognition and financial reward entail. “One begins to copy oneself,” he opined, “and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.”

It’s comparatively easy to remain creative if you’re a Picasso. Less so if you’re not born a genius. The Spaniard was someone who reinvented himself almost at whim. In a different medium, David Bowie had something of the same rare talent. I once talked to the advertising guru Sir John Hegarty about creativity. His view is that it’s difficult – and exceptional – for someone to keep innovating at a high level for more than a decade. After that, most of us are living off past successes, replaying our greatest hits if you like.

The winemakers I admire most are the people who aspire to Picasso’s mantra. One of the reasons I enjoy talking to someone like Paul Draper at Ridge Vineyards in California is that his thinking and winemaking style are always evolving. The ones I have least time for are the recipe followers, people who’ve struck on a formula that works and apply it to everything they do. We all know winemakers like that.

In our own lives, we can channel our inner Picasso too. Strive to be original; strive to push ourselves; strive to avoid sterility. So much more satisfying than the same old thing.

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