No, I’m serious. I’m not being sarcastic or facetious. I love seeing my ideas used in other places. I love it when people build off them and create their own beautiful things. Let me explain further.
I believe art and creativity should be:
The topic of being generous with art has been on my mind a lot lately. I believe anything good is worth giving away – that includes ideas, art, beauty, design – I believe it should be shared. I’m tired of stingy artists. I’m tired of artists laying claim on a certain idea they had, and possessing it in such a way that no one feels like they can reproduce it. I’m tired of the inconsistencies. We steal ideas from others and boast about it, but then get mad if someone does it to us.
A creator is neither a slave nor a master, he is one who gives, and gives abundantly. -Berdyaev (via my brother, Jason)
C’mon, be honest and admit it. You’ve copied someone else at some point in time. I know I have. As a graphic designer just starting out, I copied what other people were doing. It made my own skills better and helped me discover my own voice as an artist. The point is not to stay there. It’s to grow and begin to discover your own originality and uniqueness. My friend, Promise, has a great post about that.
It is a shame when people intentionally steal other people’s work down to the very detail in order to make a profit. There are many reasons this is wrong, and they are obvious so I won’t go into them all.
If you steal an idea from somewhere else, you should definitely NOT try and pass it as your own original idea. Credit MUST be given. This keeps you honest, and it keeps the person you are stealing from from potentially being hurt emotionally or economically. Respecting other artists is key and actually keeps you from harmful stealing.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”—Jim Jarmusch
You should remain humble in any type of art that you produce. Creativity flows through us, we are not the Author of it. We are merely the vessels to get it out there – to make something from nothing is god-like. We are like God in that way, and that is humbling. If I’ve learned something about my creativity this year, it’s that I can’t take credit for it. I know it comes from a higher Source.
“It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”— Jean-Luc Godard
I loved this article I came across recently, How to Steal Like an Artist. In it, Austin says, “You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” The artist is a collector. They only collect things that they really love.”
“Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of existing concepts.”— Steven Grant
We should be inspired by other artists. Producing derivative works and building off existing art is what makes art grow.
Nothing is original anyway. Twyla Tharp says, “Baby, it’s all been done before.” There have been several instances I’ve found this to be true in my own creating.
A year ago I had an idea to make something. I was truly impressing myself with my original idea. Then a few weeks later I found a friend that had posted about the exact same idea. Boy, did I ever feel silly. That’s when I truly realized – People CAN have the same ideas. It’s dangerous to see someone’s work and automatically assume they’ve copied.
It seems like artists all over are sort of paranoid about unintentional piracy of another artists work. Even I will go Google something and make sure no one has done it before so I won’t be accused of copying. This is a real shackle to the creative community. A young Helen Keller was accused in 1892 of plagiarizing Margaret T. Canby’s story The Frost Fairies in her short story The Frost King. She was brought before a tribunal, where she was acquitted by a single vote. She said she was worried she may have read The Frost Fairies and forgotten it, “remained paranoid about plagiarism ever after” and said that this led her to write an autobiography: the one thing she knew must be original. (source)
The art and creative community should be just that, a community. A brotherhood, or sisterhood. As my friend has said, our claws shouldn’t come out if someone else is using our idea.
So please, steal my ideas. Steal my artwork and designs. Copy my stuff. Copy my blog layout. Steal my projects, make them yours. I really don’t mind. I hope it builds you as an artist to find your own original ideas and builds the creative community towards a more giving, sharing place.