Steal Like an Artist and Relax: Original Is Relative
Adam Pash — If you know enough about any field, it’s hard to imagine you can do anything new or original. For people who do creative work, that kind of mindset can be paralyzing. But as writer and artist Austin Kleon points out, no idea exists in a vacuum; the key is identifying what’s worth stealing.
It’s not a new idea—you’ve very likely heard the phrase “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” It’s commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso, or T.S. Eliot, though it likely originated with neither. Kleon illustrates his point in the cartoon above, and has this to say on the subject:
Here’s what artists understand. It’s the a three-word sentence that fills me with hope every time I read it:
Nothing is original.
It says it right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes:
“That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”
Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas.