Both Kanye West and Hideo Kojima have been very big creative inspirations of mine for a long time now. Beyond both releasing new content pretty close in time to each other, I think an important story on creativity and the artistic process reveals itself when you peel back the curtain and realize just how similar they are to one another.
There are three positive things I notice about their process. Firstly, they recognize talent when they see it. There’s a reason some of the biggest names in rap started out collabing with Kanye, or how Kojima has built such an excellent team (twice!). Game respect game, meaning in this case that a person who makes good art consumes a lot of art media themselves.
Another big factor in why these two are such massive industry leaders is because they aren’t afraid of taking massive risks to totally change the mediums. Things like Kanye West collaborating with Rivers Cuomo (who would think to put Weezer on a rap song?) or Kojima working for hours to make seemingly meaningless touches to the realism of the game (see: melting ice cubes) is really a part of the small steps that moves the industry towards bigger trends (such as making more pop-centric rap or developing technology that helps intensify in-game immersion).
Of course, these big tends to lead to something even bigger: the culture. A while back I wrote an article called “Who Makes the Culture?” that primarily dived into the idea that there is a certain type of artist that really develops the local and global culture. For examples of that, I think these two fit the bill. Both have had massive impact on the world based on the care they put into their art as well as the fact that they aren’t willing to make compromises on it, often meaning turning things entirely on their head.
To end it off I think it’s important to note that not all is good with these two. Both late into their careers, I believe Kanye and Kojima have definitely both surrounded themselves with yes men that don’t allow themselves to be constantly challenged anymore. In order to make the best work, you have to be in a challenging environment; if everyone says “Yes, sir!” to everything you do then you don’t get challenged and you just end up making schlock, which I think both of them as of recent have definitely fallen into. However, even if these two don’t come back out of the hole (which I have confidence they have the ability to do it) there will of course be creative geniuses into the future that will build on what these two have made, just how these two have built upon those before them.
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