Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies. I’m sure my years working in the culinary arts has a lot to do with my affection for it.
For those who don’t know: it’s the story about a rat named Remy, who has a gift for culinary arts. But, because he’s a rat in a human’s world, being a chef is a crazy dream to realize. But, with the help of a human chef with little talent, that changes.
I was watching it last night, and realized there is plenty to learn about creativity from this wonderful Pixar film.
Here are just a FEW of the lessons I picked up from it….
The New Needs Friends
The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations.
The new needs friends.
When you’re launching something new into the world, something you created, something different from what people are used to…
Sometimes, no matter how good it is, it might not be received with open arms. At least, not INITIALLY.
It might make people uncomfortable because it’s different.
It can take time to accept something new.
The new needs friends.
So, it helps to create for yourself a small network of highly supportive people when you’re launching your creations, if you don’t already have one.
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
Don’t take criticism to heart.
And more often than not… don’t listen to it at all.
I’ve found that very few critics offer real valuable criticism.
The kind that you really learn from.
The kind that is thoughtful.
And makes your work better, ya know?
The good kind of criticism? That’s more rare.
The rest, you could do without.
Fixing What’s Broken IS Creating
After watching a batch of soup getting ruined by another chef, Gusteau says to Remy…
What are you waiting for?
You know how to fix it. This is your chance!
Sometimes creativity and making Art is simply fixing what other people have ruined. Or what other people didn’t get quite right.
Sometimes, you’re building on an idea that’s already been worked on.
Just because the idea isn’t yours, doesn’t mean you need to hold back.
You know how to fix it. What are you waiting for?
Create Because it’s What You Do
Django: Where are you going?
Remy: Back to the restaurant! They’ll fail without me!
Django: Why do you care?
Remy: Because I’m a cook!
Just yesterday, I said to a friend…
“I’m going through a ‘why am I doing this’ phase again”.
Ya know, when you wonder…what’s the point of writing, having a blog, trying to start a business, or any other creative endeavor…. Why do I care?!
The reason we keep showing up is because this is what we are.
Remy was a cook. He couldn’t deny it. He cared.
Sometimes, the answer to “what’s the point?” is as simple as…
Because I’m a [fill in the blank].
It’s what you do, so do it. That simple.
Let Go and Choose Growth
You could fill a book – a lot of books – with things Dad doesn’t know. And they have. Which is why I read.
Remy knew there was more to life than what he had seen thus far.
A creative needs to let go of attachment to ‘how they were raised’ or what any other authority figure, mentor, guru, or peer has tried to indoctrinate in them.
If you’re going to create anything new, you gotta go beyond that.
Support Other Artists With THEIR Vision
It was *his* job to be unexpected.
It is *our* job to follow the recipe.
Sometimes, in a creative collaboration, not everyone is THE Artist.
Sometimes one Artist needs a team of people to help them carry out their vision. You might not like that statement, especially if you’re a solopreneur and work independently.
Yes, you can offer suggestions and ideas.
But ultimately a team is following a single “recipe” to carry out a single vision.
And if you are not THE Artist that doesn’t make your role less valuable.
We all need each other to fulfill our dreams and goals.
Ideas Are Literally EVERYWHERE
Gusteau: There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it.
Remy: Oh, Gusteau was right….. Each flavor was totally unique. But, combine one flavor with another, and something new was created!
Ya know that question all creatives get asked?
Where do your ideas come from?!
As if there really is some profound answer to that question.
Like we have to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to get our ideas.
Ideas are EVERYWHERE.
Even in the most seemingly ordinary activity.
You can find excellence if you stop and savor it.
Write it down. Come back to it later.
Combine it with other ideas and create something unique.
Think about it. The idea for this article came from a Disney movie.
Not EVERYONE Will Be an Artist
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*.
I don’t believe we are all Artists.
Sorry, but I don’t.
Anyone CAN regardless of their background or any other stereotype.
I think we’re all creative in some way. Some more than others.
But not everyone will become a talented Artist in their chosen field.
And that’s OK. Because WE ALL MATTER regardless of our titles.
An “Artist” is not better than a “non-Artist”.
Do you not think the dishwasher in a Restaurant is a highly valued part of the creative process?
These positions that nobody every wants to talk about merit our respect.
When one cook calls out sick, the kitchen manages.
When the dishwasher calls out, disaster ensues. Believe me.
The point here is to acknowledge and respect the people who contribute to your success as an Artist.
So… I could go on about Ratatouille. Really, I could.
But, I’d rather hear from you. Have you seen this movie?
Did any of my points resonate with you?