Getting creative by 'stealing' wisely
Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. - C.E.M. Joad
Joad has said it better than anyone else. Many successful authors, playwrights, musicians, and artists have followed this and we, the mere mortals, sometimes, have considered their works to be 'original.'
The book, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon tells us how we can be better artists, musicians, and writers by 'stealing' from amazing works wisely. Here are some notable thoughts/ideas from the book that are relevant for artists, and musicians.
1. Art is theft. - Pablo Picasso
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or, at least, something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn. - T.S. Eliot
2. "It's one of my theories that when people give you advice, they're really just talking to themselves in the past."
3. "How does an artist look at the world? First, you figure out what's worth stealing, then you move on to the next thing. That's about all there is to it."
The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from. - David Bowie
4. "The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something 'original,' nine out of ten times, they just don't know the references or the original sources involved. What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original. It's right there in the Bible 'there is nothing new under the sun' (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
As the French writer Andre Gide put it, 'everything that needs tobe sais had already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.'"
What is originality? Undetected plagiarism. - William Ralph Inge
5. "Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas. A good example is genetics. You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them, but the sum of you is bigger than their parts. You're a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors."
The German writer Goethe said, 'we are shaped and fashioned by what we love.'
6. "The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there's a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love. Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by."
7. "Climb your own family tree - chew on one thinker - writer, role model - you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you build the tree, it's time to start your own branch."
"Seeing yourself as a part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own stuff. The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can't refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work."
8. It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. - Mark Twain
9. "It's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are."
10. About 400 years ago, William Shakespeare spelled out in his play the following:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
Another way to say this? Fake it till you make it.
"You have to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
In her book, Just Kids, musician Patti Smith talks about how two friends who wanted to be artists moved to NY where they started out as a phony and became real."
11. "Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We learn by pretending to be our heroes, we learn by copying. Copying is about reverse engineering. Musicians learn to play by practicing scales. Even The Beatles started as a cover band."
12. According to Cartoonist Gary Panter, if we rip off from a hundred people, that might be an original.
13. It's important to steal the thinking behind the style and not just steal the style. We want to see like our heroes and not look like our heroes.
14. Basketball star, Kobe Bryant has admitted that all his moves on the court were from watching tapes of his heroes. Later, he did adapted to the moves and made them his own.
15. We are so incapable of producing perfect copies and it's this failure to copy our heroes where we find our own thing.
16. Sing the song you want to listen.
17. 'Work that only comes from the head isn't any good. Watch a great musician play a show. We need to find a way to bring our body to our work.'
18. 'The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us - we start editing ideas before we have them.'
19. 'Take time to be bored. According to the artist, Maira Kalman avoiding work is the way to focus our minds.'
20. 'If you have two or three passions, let them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen. That will make us feel whole. One day when we look back, it will all make sense.
This is precisely what we do at The Cocoknot Theori. We combine our passion for writing, music, story-telling, film making, travelling, and reading in this blog.
21. When we are in college, the profs get paid to pay attention to our ideas and the classmates are paying to pay attention to our ideas. This doesn't happen once we come out of college. There's no pressure when you are unknown. But, once people start paying us, we will never get that freedom. So, let's enjoy the obscurity while it lasts.
22. According to Franz Kafka, it's possible to build our own world even by not leaving our homes. And, Kafka was born a century before the internet. All we need to do is just listen to ourselves even though travelling to distant lands help.
23. Bad weather leads to better art. - Yes, we agree to it completely as mentioned in one of our earlier posts.
24. Complain about the way other people make music by making music.
25. 'The best way to get approval is not to need it. Validation is for parking.'
26. 'Be boring. It's the only way to get work done. It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don't have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.'
27. 'It's not the money you make, it's the money you hold on to. The art of holding on to money is all about saying no to consumer culture.' Always Jam Econo.
28. 'If you don't take money, they can't tell you what to do.'
29. 'Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. You have to stay in the groove.'
30. 'Marry well - this not only applies to your life partner but also, who you do business with, who you befriend, and who you choose to be around.'
31. 'Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying. Creativity is, hence, subtraction. So, choose to leave out wisely.'
32. 'Be as generous as you can but selfish enough to get your work done.'
33. 'Originality is depth + breadth of sources.'
34. 'Make things for people you love, for people you want to meet.'
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