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Note to self: great artists steal

Inspiration - someone or something that gives you ideas for doing something

“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

Picasso once told us that "good artists borrow, and great artists steals'. This quote came to the forefront of my mind when I listened to an episode of The Creative Pep Talk podcast. Within this episode*, the host Andy J Miller discusses the idea that the secret to being a successful creative lies in having great taste. He referenced how when listening to an interview with chef Gordon Ramsey, when asked what Ramsey looks for in an aspiring chef, he replied good taste. Not certain cooking skills but rather just being able to identify good food.

This then made me think about the notion of "great artists steal". As many believe this doesn't literally mean plagiarise, but rather understanding the inspiration that got an artist to that piece of work and using it to influence your own work to create something new. When I considered this idea I then understood what Miller was trying to portray and I could see the benefit of what he was saying. If we are able to identify great work we can then use elements of what made that work great to influence our own.

A lot of things in life is remixed or recycled, art, trends, music etc. The important thing to remember is to make sure your idea is a fresh take on the original idea and not just a pale imitation. Otherwise it will fall flat and rather than "stealing" an idea you will just be copying it. This is also fitting as an illustrator as we can gain inspiration from platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram and although we may draw reference from something we have seen we are able to interpret it in a new way that allows the viewer to appreciate it from a different perspective. It is also important to give credit where credit is due, making sure you have permission to use the imagery or crediting the original image/video that inspired you.

If you're an aspiring creative you need to learn how to identify great work. You need to learn the rules of art and design, as once you have learnt the rules you can then manipulate them and break them in an effective way. You need to be able to identify what components create harmony within a piece of work and in doing so you will be able to create work that will communicate well to your audience.

Sera Rae - an inspiration thief

*Episode 229

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