Creativity: Turning a Negative into a Positive

andy warhol's paintings of campbell's soup cans

Last week when I was at the Andy Warhol: The Portfolios exhibition I was intrigued by the story of how Andy Warhol came to create the images of the Campbell’s Soup cans.

The Story behind the Campbell’s Soup cans

Apparently Warhol asked a friend, gallery owner Muriel Latow, for ideas. She asked him what he liked and disliked and Warhol said he disliked grocery shopping, having been sent on many errands by his mother as a boy. Latow asked if there were any groceries he disliked in particular and Warhol said Campbell’s Soup as his mother had made it every day for lunch. As he disliked all the soup flavours, Latow suggested he paint them all, which is where the idea for soup can images was born.

People and Ideas

Two things strike me about this story. The first is that great ideas can come about through simple conversations. Andy Warhol was always asking his friends for ideas and he took his ideas from all around him: popular culture, newspapers, friends. He surrounded himself with people who creative and  useful to him.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum – something or someone has to spark the idea.  Who do you know to chat to and spark ideas off?

Turning a Negative into a Positive

And the second is that Andy Warhol changed the course of modern art as we know it by focusing on something he disliked. By turning a negative into a positive he created one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

Which makes me wonder how can we turn the negatives into our lives into positives. It could be an emotion like anger or fear or a dislike of olives. Using it as a force for creative ideas could change the hold that particular negative energy has on your life, giving you an opportunity to transform it.

Turning Failure into Success

Or it could be something that you’ve tried and failed at. History is full of success stories of people who tried and failed over and over again before finally achieving success.  Instead of viewing failure as something negative, they learned from their experience and turned it into something positive.

And that is all part of the creative process. Thank you, Andy Warhol, for the reminder!

Photo of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans – Thanks to wallyg on

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2 Responses to Creativity: Turning a Negative into a Positive

  1. Anna Sayburn September 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Great story, Angie. I’m working on seeing the sunny side of life, despite rain outside (good for the garden!) and a hectic workload (good for the business!). I’ll see what I can do about changing the face of modern art, next.

    • Angie Macdonald September 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

      That’s the spirit, Anna. Go for it! I’m wondering if I should do something creative with my dislike of brussel sprouts.

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