Picasso, Steve Jobs, and the Art of Keeping it Simple

Picasso, Steve Jobs, and the Art of Keeping it Simple

Pablo Picasso, a master of the art of simplification, possessed a unique talent for distilling complexity into its purest and most essential form. His iconic "The Bull" series, created in 1945 and comprising eleven lithographs, stands as a testament to the power of simplicity. This art form, the ability to simplify, has profoundly influenced not only modern art but also everyday creativity and innovation.

"It took me my whole life to learn to draw like a child."

Picasso's "The Bull" series takes us on an artistic odyssey that begins with a detailed and realistic depiction of a bull. This initial stage mirrors the birth of a creative idea - that spark of inspiration when a concept first takes shape. Picasso's 'Bull 1' lithograph reminds us that every creative endeavor commences with a vision, no matter how intricate or complex it may seem.

As we progress through the series, Picasso transforms the bull from a lifelike representation into a more mythical and abstract figure. This evolution mirrors the creative process, where the initial idea matures and adapts, shedding excess baggage to reveal something more profound and distinctive. Picasso's journey from 'Bull 2' to 'Bull 8' reflects the creative act of refinement, stripping away the unnecessary to unveil the raw essence.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards."

"I do not seek, I find."

Picasso's journey serves as an exemplar for creatives, emphasizing the power of simplification. It underscores that creativity is not about complexity but about uncovering the core and conveying it in the simplest form.


Key Takeaways

  • Start with Complexity: Like Picasso's initial detailed depiction of the bull, your creative journey often begins with a complex idea or vision. Embrace it and let it guide your explorations.
  • Embrace Abstraction: Just as Picasso evolves the bull into abstraction, be unafraid to distill your creative concept, removing non-essential elements. Abstraction can reveal the essence of your idea.
  • The Power of Simplification: Picasso's final lithograph reminds us that simplicity is often the summit of creativity. Less can be more. It's not about what you add, but what you remove that defines a masterpiece.

Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple, embodied Picasso's principles in the realm of technology and design. Jobs once said, "Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple." This idea is at the core of Apple's design philosophy. Apple products, like Picasso's "Bull" series, are unforgettable because they resonate with their users through simplicity and depth. Whether it's the iPhone, the MacBook, or the sleek design of the Apple Store, Apple products are a living testament to the power of minimalism and user-friendly design.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

The lessons from Picasso, Apple, and their commitment to simplicity extend well beyond the creative realms. Embracing simplicity in everyday life can be a powerful catalyst for creativity and contentment. Consider the act of decluttering a living space or simplifying a daily routine. By reducing unnecessary complexity, you create room for clarity, focus, and the appreciation of life's essential elements. The concept of "less is more" transcends artistic expression and technological design, permeating our lives and promoting a sense of balance and fulfillment.


Pablo Picasso's "The Bull" series is not just about artistic evolution; it's a roadmap for the creative journey. It demonstrates that complexity can give birth to simplicity, and the essence of any idea can be uncovered by stripping away the extraneous. As a creative, remember that the most memorable and impactful work often emerges from this process of simplification.