“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” —David Bowie
One thing I always look forward to at the end of the year is the year in review mashups. A common criticism of people who dismiss mashups in general is that they aren’t original. That the artist isn’t playing an instrument, they’re just pressing buttons on a computer. And anyone could do that…
The problem with this belief is that everyone steals ideas. Whether you realize it or not, your “original” ideas are likely just a combination of other peoples ideas. Every idea has a family tree. If you study one idea long enough you can trace it back to the origin. To create something original doesn’t mean you have to start with an original idea, that just has to be your destination. Many great ideas are the love child of two pretty good ideas. Once you overcome this mental paralysis, it’s easier to come up with ideas.
I’ve heard the exact same story told by different people in different contexts. Neither of them conducted the study they were referencing, but they each told the story in their own voice and used it to make a larger point.
Below is one of my favorite stories about creativity and how people think. Watch the video then read one of my favorite bloggers tell the same story.