Many people think that they are not truly thinking creatively, unless they come up with something that is wholly original. This is absolutely not the case and it’s what this article is all about. You see, it turns out that all truly great artists steal.
Great artists steal?
Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
Whether Picasso did indeed say that is open to some debate, but it’s an extremely valuable insight, for anyone interested in developing their ability to think creatively.
So, what does Picasso’s saying actually mean and what can we learn from it?
Picasso was referring to the fact that good artists and great artists work very differently:
- A good artist will see another artists style and then try and emulate that style as closely as they can.
- A great artist will select elements from another artists work and incorporate it into their own unique mix of influences.
A good artist simply copies another person’s art. A great artist selectively takes (steals) elements from multiple sources and then creatively combines their influences to create something that is uniquely their own.
Some well known examples include:
- Apple did not create tablet computing. Toshiba and other companies had manufactured tablet devices almost a decade earlier. What Apple’s iPad team did, was take the concept of tablet computing and build it into something that worked extremely well, was wafer thin and looked great.
- Google was not the first company to create a search engine. In fact, Google was late to the game. What Google did was take the concept of search engines and apply a super simple interface to it, with a unique program that consistently delivered very good search results. They created a unique looking product, which worked extremely well.
- When George Lucas created Star Wars, he fused the best of science fiction, with old time stories of the battle between good and evil.
Creative Thinking and original thought
Many people assume they are not creative, because they set the bar impossibly high for themselves. They are happy to regard Apple, Google and George Lucas as creative, yet they feel that unless they come up with something wholly original, they themselves are not creative. The reality is that even if you believe you have had a wholly unique thought, someone in a robe probably had the same idea, 3 thousand years earlier.
Give yourself the creative freedom to pull influences in from your whole life experience and forge them into your own; answers, paintings, ideas, dance moves, marketing, designs, stories, lyrics, sculptures, blog posts, products, food dishes, services, melodies – Anything!
You will be amazed what you can create, when you learn to steal like an artist.