Picasso had said every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction. To allow a new element into our consciousness we must be able to break our habits. Habits, or conditioned responses, tend to mechanize and reduce an individual to the status of conditioned automaton. The destruction of habit is a force that liberates the spirit. This freedom leads to loneliness, a situation that is counter to most peoples’ desires. So most people who venture into a creative occupation prefer to perfect their habits rather than discard them. Habits can be highly developed into a skill, which is devoid of originality. A person of such talent can be considered a virtuoso, one who is skilled in the mechanical part of a fine art. This only leads to mundane, me-too fragrances.
One prerequisite that leads to creativity is the art of forgetting, at the proper moment, what we know. Without this the mind remains cluttered up with ready-made answers. The unconscious seems to take delight in breaking through exactly what we cling to most rigidly in our conscious thinking. With the aid of forgetting the unconscious puts reason to sleep and restores the innocence of vision. To create a new code, the old code has to be forgotten and not be one that is varied upon. In the formative years of ones training it is necessary, as an art, to copy the masters, the classical pieces of art. After years of this form of perseverance and dedication, then can an artist develop his own personality, his own code.
One must realize that creativity has restrictions and is not unlimited freedom. The end product must be, sooner or later, something that will be accepted and appreciated. One must rely on imagery and not perception. Perception is a reproduction of a likeness, nature. Imagery is an imperfect mirror of what one sees. This imperfection leads to creativity – it is a form of abstraction. This form of imagination puts together different matrices that are not together in the external world. As Cezanne related to this he relied more on imagination and imagery and less on perception and memory.
He saw with his fantasy and not his eyes. Here we differentiate from the talented conformists, the brilliant enhancers-embroiderers of the ideas of others and the creative persons who open new horizons and frontiers.
One other qualification is the courage to create, not afraid of being alone. Without courage in our work we become dependent. Without courage we become conformists. Right now we have too much conformity, the market is saturated with it. The way out of the cul-de-sac of banality is via a revolutionary departure with no fear. When one embarks on a new approach he must not be dogmatic, he must be receptive and always have doubt. You can have doubt with conviction, you can overcome doubt with courage. You must work in spite of doubt. The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. Against a new idea we begin to argue before it has been completely stated. The mechanism that protects habit against the intrusion of novelty accounts both for our mental inertia and mental stability.
Most people conform because of fear of not gaining the “panel scores”. When this occurs one’s scope of field is narrowed, limited to the “tested types”. The creative product, in the end, still has to be aesthetically pleasing. Not to be different for the sake of being different. Creativity is therefore not a single trait but a combination of several dichotomic traits. Originality alone may lead us astray if not corrected by self-criticism (doubt). Intelligence alone would be a handicap to creativity if not accompanied by originality.
There is a high price for true creativity and it is paid in terms of insecurity, sensitivity and defenselessness. I feel that perfumery is now at a time in its existence as it was when Cezanne changed the rules, the direction of painting. As was stated before, the market is saturated with “me-too” fragrances. Now is the time to turn perfumery in another direction. The public is more sophisticated today than 15-20 years ago. They sense the lack of originality in the market. That is why they are going back to the classic perfumes. We must titillate the imagination of the consumer. To do this we must give them new, different, aesthetically beautiful fragrances. Only we are able to do this.
I’ve tried to expand on this by smelling paintings (Mont Blanc fragrance).
The second approach is to follow a precise profile that is given by the customer – such as the positioning of the product – age group, price, odor type etc.
Here is where the perfumer must call upon his talents, his skill – the rules that he has acquired. Perhaps a duplication is requested or a mass market accord is necessary for the perfume – the perfumer is then working in a very disciplined fashion. He is working as an “embroiderer”, changing the ideas of others, possibly altering a minor accord in a mass market fragrance. The change must be made cautiously so as not to lose the appeal of the original ideas. This skill is as important as having the creative talent.
Today’s market is geared to duplication because of the large expense to launch a new fragrance. So to lower the risk factor of the fragrance being a success, the customer asks for a “type” that has already proven itself in the market. So we now have many “mirror fragrances”. I hope that this trend will slow down a bit.
Ron Winnegrad has been a Perfumer and teacher for 46 years. As a perfumer, Ron has been able to express the world he sees through a rainbow of olfactive and emotive visions. As a teacher, Ron has helped others to see fragrance through his own multi sensorial lens.