Do You Think Breaking Rules Is Essential in Exploring Creativity?

Adrian S. Potter
3 min readDec 25, 2022

Transform into an artistic maverick with Pablo Picasso (The Secondhand Inspiration Project).

Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

Do you think breaking rules is essential in exploring creativity?

This question immediately reminds me of a splendid quote by Pablo Picasso that reads:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

I love this quote. And within its subtle wisdom, I see the answer to the question of whether defying prescribed conventions is vital to the creative process.

Sure, breaking rules is essential in exploring creativity. But a true artist should never violate norms and practices just for the sake of becoming a rebellious poseur or sparking some faux fight against the establishment. That convoluted tactic seems reckless and makes a person seem like a hack or a wannabe.

Understanding the first part of Picasso’s quote is critical. Learn the rules like a pro…

A great creative takes ample time to learn, abide by, and deeply understand the motives of the rules in their chosen field. This might take months, years, or even decades of deliberate practice and perhaps even formal training or education.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad:

Contemplate all this within the lens of Malcolm Gladwell’s well-known 10,000-hour rule.

If it truly takes 10,000 hours of intensive training to achieve proficiency in complex skills and materials, that 10,000 hours is likely spent studying and mastering the rules in a given field, whether in sports, music, programming, writing, painting, etc.

But after that apprenticeship is where the fun starts.

Once a newbie takes enough time to hone their craft, they will eventually discover which chains to loosen to unshackle their unique brand of creativity. After they have sharpened the blade, they know what to slice and what to…

Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity ·