The Ecosystem Behind Creative Success

Abang Edwin SA
3 min readMay 5, 2024
Photo by Ben Eaton on Unsplash

When we think of creative trailblazers, we often focus on the individual — the legendary artists, the visionary designers, the brilliant writers and musicians. While these creators deserve acclaim for their talent and vision, it’s a misconception that great creative works arise solely from a single person operating in isolation.

As a product designer and lecturer, I understand that creativity cannot reach an optimal point if it is not supported by the ecosystem around it. In my view, “Design work can be successful not only because of the creator but also the entire ecosystem of their creativity.” This highlights that behind every renowned creative achievement, there exists an entire ecosystem of supporting elements that allowed that creativity to be nurtured, refined and ultimately realized.

Jony Ive & Tim Cook

Take for example the iconic designs of Apple products by Jony Ive. While his name is recognizable, Ive himself acknowledges there are “hundreds of unsung heroes” who helped bring those creations to life — the manufacturing teams, engineers, developers and many interconnected roles. Without that ecosystem, his innovative visions may have never materialized so impactfully.

This creative ecosystem concept applies to every field I’ve observed. A bestselling author may receive the accolades, but their work stems from being part of a literary community, working with editors and publishers, drawing inspiration from cultural influences and more. As famed novelist Henry Miller said, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

Jewel

I’ve seen musical artistry as a prime example of creative ecosystems at work. As singer-songwriter Jewel insightfully stated, “It is a collaboration of so many elements and personalities and artists and technology and emotions and experiences.” The most iconic musicians have entire teams — producers, engineers, choreographers, marketing — shaping how their expression is captured and delivered.

Steve Jobs embodied celebrating the collective ecosystem: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Even singular creative geniuses depend on wider ecosystems for their ideas to be impactfully realized.

In my experience as an educator, I try to instill this perspective in emerging designers. While striving for brilliance, don’t lose sight of the full ecosystem involved. Celebrating diverse talents across teams, mastering production processes, tapping into creative communities — this ecosystem view paves paths to true success beyond individual glory. As the Persian adage states: “Alone we can do so little, together we can achieve so much.”

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Abang Edwin SA

Observer, Content Creator, Blogger (Obviously), Ghostwriter, Design Thinker, Trainer and also Lecturer for Product Design Dept at Podomoro University