The word ‘genius’ is used a lot when it comes to the arts – a subject matter that is generally discussed using superlatives. But what is it that makes an artist a genius? What qualities do they possess and how do they achieve this highest level of praise? We asked six of Australia’s leading artists to give us their definition.


Geniusto me is the ability to see the future today. These brilliant people lead us along the path toward tomorrow, presenting ideas, works of art or theories that change the way we see the world – but, after experiencing them, also seem completely inevitable, making us wonder why that particular idea or work had never been thought of before.

I think most people whom I would put in this category are also completely enthralled in the process of learning and discovery. They explore and create, fulfilling an inner need or desire rather than being fuelled by an obsession with fame or notoriety. I think the word ‘ genius’ is often used but only rarely earned.