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Nothing Is Original

By: Jose Arellano

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” I came across this quote by T.S. Eliot while reading “Steal Like an Artist,” a book that has reminded me about the fact that almost nothing is original. This fact has had a great impact on me as a creative.

Since I introduced myself to the world of graphic design, looking for ideas has always been one of the toughest tasks. In the past, I have always searched for that big discovery of an idea. You know, that idea that just comes to you on a relaxing morning stroll in the park.

Maybe even the one that magically appears at the super trendy coffee shop downtown where you do all of your homework. Ideally, these ideas are original and have never been thought of before, right? Most likely, this isn’t true. All ideas come from somewhere and build from what came before.

A good example of this is genetics. Austin Kleon discusses this in “Steal Like an Artist.” He explains how we have a mother and a father. We each contain features from both of them, but we are not them. “You are a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors.” We may not get to pick our families, but we certainly get to pick our friends, teachers, music we listen to and other aspects that affect us. Kleon talks about how we are all mashups of the things that we choose to let into our lives. This is what makes us so unique. The things we love shape and affect us.

Ideas are the same way. Everywhere we go or travel, there is something that affects or inspires us. It is up to us to either keep it or throw it out. The mixture of all of these influences is what creates our unique idea.

If you’re a creative who finds it hard to come up with original ideas, remember that the ideas that you come up with will incorporate some aspects of your inspiration. This does not mean that you are copying their work. As long as it does not directly imitate it, it is your original work. Be confident that the many influences and pieces of inspiration that exist within you will formulate a good idea. So the next time you experience a creative block, just remember: “Art is theft” – Pablo Picasso.


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