Is it okay to steal like an Artist?
A few weeks ago, one of the illustrators I follow on Instagram, wrote a post about copying people’s artwork. Unfortunately, I am not able to locate the exact post but, basically they feel that if another Artist creates something similar, it is copying. They believe that you need to develop your own style independently without any influence from other Artists.
I completely disagree!
In my Friday post I mentioned this book, Steal Like An Artist.
The book focuses on the belief that all creative work builds on something that came before it therefore, nothing is original. Kleon’s theory is that every idea is a remix of one or more previous ideas.
For example, think about all of the movies you have watched throughout your life. How many times have you seen a movie that is similar to another? Likely there are differences between each but, they are still comparable. It does not mean that the writer intentionally ripped off elements from another film. It is possible the writer was not even aware of the films existence from the start.
Honestly, everything that I have ever created was either influenced or inspired by another person’s idea. I also use other people’s work as a reference. For instance, I am terrible at drawing noses. If I stumble upon another artist’s work and I like the way they draw their noses, I’ll practice drawing something similar.
In his book, Kleon points out that the human hand is incapable of making an exact copy. I may use someone’s work as a reference but, I incorporate my own techniques into it as well. Therefore, my end result is not an exact copy.
Plagiarizing is wrong but, mixing elements from other Artist’s into your own work is not.
In order to evolve as Artists we need to keep pushing ourselves to explore different techniques. It is through that journey we end up developing our own individual style.