My good friend Elbert gifted me with 2 books today: STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and SHOW YOUR WORK! both by Austin Kleon. I started reading STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST first, which is a book written by an artist with the intention of giving advice to his past self. I really resonated with his belief that nothing is really “original” in this world – everything is merely stolen and adapted from previous concepts/ideas. True authentic art, or any ideas for that matter, are stolen from inspiring work and made better or different. I liked this passage the most:
First, you have to figure out who to copy. Second, you have to figure out what to copy.
Who to copy is easy. You copy your heroes – the people you love, the people you’re inspired by, the people you want to be.
What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.
The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be more than a knockoff.