Embracing the Unoriginal: The Path to Growth and Innovation in Art

In the realm of art and creativity, we frequently encounter statements like "originality is key" or "be unique." Nevertheless, Austin Kleon, a prominent artist and writer, challenges this idea in his book "Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative." Kleon asserts that "all creative work builds on what came before" and "nothing is completely original." This article delves into the significance of embracing unoriginality in our creative endeavors and its potential to foster growth and innovation in the art world.

Debunking the Originality Myth

As artists, our pursuit of originality is relentless, as we look for ways to distinguish ourselves from the masses. However, the notion that any artwork is entirely original is false. Every piece of art is a product of the artist's experiences, cultural background, and the work of those who came before them. Acknowledging this can enable us to adopt a new perspective on our creative work, liberating us from the pressure to produce something wholly original.

The Potency of Influence and Inspiration

Accepting that nothing is genuinely original doesn't devalue art. Instead, it motivates us to appreciate the impact of influence and inspiration on our creative journey. We can learn from the works of others, be it renowned artists or our contemporaries, and integrate their ideas into our practice. Consequently, we contribute to the ongoing development of art, transforming it into a dynamic, evolving entity.

Learning from History

When we recognize that all creative work is grounded in prior creations, we can appreciate the relevance of comprehending art history and the circumstances surrounding the conception of various artworks. By examining the techniques, themes, and styles of former artists, we can enhance our understanding of our own art and acquire new insights into shaping our distinctive voice.

The Art of Remixing and Adapting

In the creative process, it is crucial to adopt the concept of remixing and adapting others' work. This doesn't imply plagiarizing or imitating someone else's work, but rather, utilizing their ideas as a catalyst for our own creativity. By amalgamating various influences and adding our personal touch, we can generate something novel and stimulating, even if it isn't entirely unprecedented.

The notion that "all creative work builds on what came before" and "nothing is completely original" may initially appear disheartening. Yet, by embracing the unoriginal aspects of our creative pursuits, we expose ourselves to a world full of possibilities, growth, and innovation. As artists, we can persist in building upon the work of others, standing on the shoulders of giants to forge our distinct expressions, and contribute to the perpetually evolving landscape of art.

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