Jack White on Creativity

I just finished watching Under Great White Northern Lights, a documentary about The White Stripes. If you’re a fan, I recommend it. If not, there’s still a great bit from an interview with the band where Jack is talking about intentionally putting limitations on himself and forcing himself to work within certain boundaries.

Here’s the quote from White:

10 years later, I think my god, I’m tired of working in this same box, but I force myself to do it because I know something good can come out of it if I really work inside of it.

Inspiration and work ethic, they ride right next to each other. When I was an upholsterer, sometimes you’re not inspired to re-upholster a chair…sometimes it’s just work and you just do it because you’re supposed to, and by the end, maybe you look at it and say, ‘Eh, that looks good, that’s pretty good.’ And that’s it. Then you move on.

I mean, not every day you’re going to wake up and the clouds are going to part and the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to write a song from it. I mean, sometimes you just get in there and force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out of it. But that was one of the things, it was like whether we like it not, we’re going to write some songs and record. You know, force yourself into it. Book only four or five days in the studio and force yourself to record an album in that time. Deadlines and things make you creative. Opportunity and telling yourself “Oh, you have all the time in the world, you have all the money in the world, you have all the colors in the palette you want, anything you want,” I mean, that just kills creativity.

5 thoughts on “Jack White on Creativity

  1. Ernie Schenck mentions this aspect of Jack White in “The Houdini Solution,” which is all about creativity inside the box.

    Check out this Red Hot Chili Peppers video, directed by Mark Romanek:


    Romanek decided to have the band perform on a really small stage. At first, they thought it was a dumb idea, but after a while, they admitted being so confined made them act in ways they wouldn't have if they'd been at a larger stage.

    Creativity thrives in close confines.


  2. fantastic post, i think most of us complain about the opposite and complain about constraints and budgets and all that. how many times have you said or heard someone say 'if only we had…'. i shall retweet this and thanks for inspiration.


  3. Great post. As a huge Jack White fan, I've been meaning to catch this film.

    Have you caught “It Might Get Loud” with White, Jimmy Page and The Edge? More good stuff from Jack there.


  4. Thanks for this. That was a really relevant quote. I love your blog, it's so inspiring and I'm so glad I came upon your blog. I just felt like I needed to tell you that.


  5. Thanks, Mark. That happens to be the next movie in my Netflix queue.

    And Adstudent, thanks for the feedback and support. We appreciate it. Glad you found something helpful.


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