Great creative work is usually the product of a single person

Whether in music (Bach, Lennon), art (Picasso, Bernini), film (Tarantino, Anderson), games (Blow, Lantz), fiction (Kundera, Tolstoy), the most eminent work is usually the result of a single person’s creative efforts. Occasionally it’s a very small group (Eames, Wrights).

Why is this?

This observation creates challenges for Tools for thought because Great tool-makers are often not great tool-users, and vice-versa; see Deep collaborations between tool-makers and tool-users may support insight through making.


Pendleton-Jullian, A. M., & Brown, J. S. (2018). Design Unbound (Vol. 1–2). MIT Press. Pendleton-Jullian and Brown, Design Unbound

Most truly great works are the result of one person, either acting alone in their studio, or as creative leaders capable of transferring their vision to others. Consider the works of Dante, Cervantes, Joyce; Bach, Wagner, Cage… Most great works have come from one creative mind.

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Last updated 2023-07-13.