There is one thing that I learned very early on as a designer and as a person, nothing is original. We have never and will never create something that is truly original. All we are able to do is steal from one another and add our own experiences or modifications to whatever it may be. We are all thieves of each other. It’s not your fault, it’s just the nature of the way the world works. Everything in nature steals from each other, and as an artist, you need to learn not to fear this but rather how to embrace it.
“Originality is the art of concealing your sources” – Benjamin Franklin
Stealing Isn’t Always Wrong
In order for you to fully understand this, you must place your negative connotations with the word “stealing” to rest. It is simply a word and it means nothing more than the meaning you give to it. Understand that stealing can be both good and bad. Think about it.
Everything that has ever been created is a result of stealing. This pattern repeats its self over and over again in nature. At the atomic level, atoms are constantly stealing protons from one another. When a baby is created it steals DNA patterns from the parents. We wouldn’t have life here on earth if we didn’t steal energy from the sun. Stealing is a powerful and essential part of nature. Different industries try to disguise the fact they are stealing by using fancy or fabricated words to cover up their thieving actions. In the journalism and writing world, they often call it research. In the design world, we often say we are finding inspiration. But in reality, it is just stealing.
“To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.” -Steven Wright
Every idea you have ever had is a combination of ideas that you stole from other people or things. What we think originality is isn’t quite right, originality is actually just a new combination/modification of stolen entities.
So Now What?
Now you must learn to embrace and utilize your inner thief. Steal from everything you can. As a designer, I like to steal from a variety of places that inspire me. I steal from other designs that I love, I steal from TV, I steal from beauty that I see in nature, I steal from my friends, I steal ideas, concepts, and any other non-physical things that I possibly can so that when I regurgitate them they seem to be original.
Be A Thief With A Heart
Keep in mind, that just like in high school, you can only steal so much from one place before you will be accused of stealing or plagiarism. So make sure that you vary the ingredients in your recipe or else people will know they are eating something else that they have already had. Give credit where credit is due, don’t blatantly take a piece of someone else’s pie without asking or giving them a slice in return. Also, don’t become lazy when it comes to creating your own designs, writings, or whatever else you are working on. What I mean by this is avoid just copy and pasting everything you see and putting your name on it, try to create your own work, just understand that you can’t be 100% original.
I feel like many people will misinterpret this post because they can’t leave behind their negative connotations with the word “stealing” when they read this, but I hope that at least a few of you will understand the true significance of what is being said here.
What are your thoughts on creating original work and stealing from others? Leave your comments below!