Now that might sound like a bold, and slightly unethical, statement. But trust me, it’s true.
I studied art at school and I was pretty good at it. I studied it throughout my time at high school and into college. I remember a saying (although the source of it escapes me) that saying is “Steal like an artist.”
“Steal like an artist” is a catchy way of helping artists understand that it’s ok to be inspired by those artists around you and those who have gone before you.
This doesn’t mean trace, copy, plagarize or anything like that.
It means, find good stuff. Stuff that you like. Stuff that is “worth stealing” and put it to good use.
Doing this will benefit you in two ways. 1 - you’ll learn what “good stuff is” 2 - You’ll be inspired to mix and remix that good stuff into something you can create.
What you have to understand is that nothing is “Unique” everything is a derivative. That’s life. That’s how humankind has evolved. We tried something, liked it, then someone came along with an idea on how to improve upon it, and so on, down the centuries until here we are today.
It’s like Darwin’s survival of the fittest. We weed out the bad genes of art and nurture the good genes of art.
Now, you may be reading this thinking “What does this guy know? I’m amazing, and my art is unlike anything seen before.” My advice to you is to get your head out of your arse and read on. In today’s era of constant communication, you’d have to be a hermit living in a cave to not be inspired by anything. And even then, you’d be inspired by the sunrise and sunset, cave paintings, heck, even a splash of blood on the ground where a rabbit was eaten by a fox.
Inspiration is all around us. Not everything is worth stealing. But everything can be stolen.
Nothing is unique or original. It’s like when Steven Hawking said that to make an apple pie from scratch you’d first have to invent the universe.
So, in closing, steal, swipe, pilfer only the good stuff. Do it daily, unashamedly, with gusto and enthusiasm for the world around you.
Keep it all to hand, on your phone, in a sketchbook, so that when you’re ready to make your apple pie, all the pieces of the universe are there.