Bowie's Secret to Success

The incredible power of being present

Bowie

Bowie's foundation for his creativity and innovation was his extraordinary ability to listen, tune in and be fully present. What follows is a unique Bowie moment that is not something you find in the media. Natalie Holland, a great artist friend of mine in London tells her story:

"Many years ago, I spent exactly one hour in the company of David Bowie, an experience which taught me a great deal not just about his persona, but also about the way things should be in the art world. David Bowie was in Oslo just for one day for his performance, but with the little time he had, he nevertheless decided to make time to pay a visit to the studio of famous Norwegian artist whom he admired and previously bought an iconic work from. I had been the former apprentice of the said artist and therefore was invited to come along to the studio - which was hugely generous of him. Lucky as I am, I was there when Bowie arrived at the studio with a group of 'his people' and a huge following from the press outside - everything you would expect when a world star suddenly lands in front of your door."

"He came in, very open and very present at the moment, having nothing of the celebrity air about him, saying hello and shaking hands with everyone there. Boy, did I ever regret the fact that iPhones and taking selfies didn't yet exist. What happened after was absolutely amazing - after that quick round, he said to the artist :'I just have one hour, so I would like to know as much as possible about the way you think'. He then sat down right on the (very dirty) floor in front of the artist - and yes, there was plenty of chairs available - and focused completely on the person he wanted to know about. His presence at the moment was incredible - and so were his questions. Something magical was happening right there. Although the artist himself was no stranger to being asked about his art extesensively, the questions made him talk about his ideas in a way I never heard him talk before. Not once David Bowie has interrupted him with comments of his own, he was there to ask questions and he really listened to the answers. Exactly on the hour, he stood up and gave a sign to his security that he was about to leave."

"The only question artist had asked him is why his eyes were different (he sincerely didn't know). David told him the story and that was about it, but just before he left, he turned and said to the artist in a very sincere and straight forward way:' I might never see you again, so I just want to tell you now that you might be the greatest living artist of today - and I am fortunate to have this opportunity to meet you. Have a good day!' - and off he went, disappearing in a sea of blitz from the paps outside, leaving an unforgettable memory behind. An experience of real respect and love for the artist and his work, and a collector who buys not because the trendy art magazines and galleries told him what is 'right' to buy right now, but because he truly connects to this one work."

He focused completely on the person he wanted to know about. His presence at the moment was incredible - and so were his questions. Something magical was happening right there.