Ever since we were young, we have been taught that stealing is wrong. And to be clear, it is. Like every good rule though, there are exceptions. Art is the exception to the commandment that "Thou Shalt Not Steal."
Therefore like all good art, this post is stolen. Let me be clear, the ideas I will present here are from a book titled Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. However, as you can see from the quote above, it is not as if Austin created this original concept himself. In fact, Austin's book is just simply the most recent resource that I have read on the topic. I will later be referencing certain aspects of this book in this post though, so it is worth mentioning it now.
Let me elaborate on this whole stealing thing. I do not in any way, shape, form, or fashion condone plagiarizing anybody's work. That is not the type of "stealing" that we are discussing. Instead, what we mean by "stealing" is more akin to being inspired. Steal ideas and concepts and reframe them to apply to your work. Take an architectural design and use it to inspire a painting. Take a piece of music and use it to inspire a book. Take a quote and use it to inspire a new composition. The latter is something that I do constantly.
This is where I am going to talk very briefly about a concept from Austin's book. He references something that he calls a "swipe file" which is something that artists have been using for a while now no matter what they called it. Basically, this is a "file" where you can keep a your ideas. My swipe file is filled with quotes, drawings, ideas, and miscellaneous other things. Then, when it comes time for me to start a new project, I have a well of inspiration. Again, the idea is not to copy, but rather to take old ideas and refresh them. This is the nature of originality. Everything is inspired by something, and in that way originality doesn't exist.
In this way, I am a thief. Yet, I believe that my parents would both be very proud. After all:
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9