Steal Like An Artist

This video’s title immediately caught my attention, and within the first minute I was hooked. Austin Kleon examines what it means to collect information, and how vital it is to artists of any sort to do so. He explains how he overcame a terrible writer’s block by literally “blocking” out words in newspaper articles with a marker to connect words into funny phrases/sayings and called it “Newspaper Blackout” (which I am a bit familiar with). He reveals that while posting his work online, he got criticized for being unoriginal, so evidently he began researching the artist who was doing something similar and traced the origin of this type of writing all the way back to the 1760s.

My favorite part of the video is when Kleon shares a little anecdote that directly relates to his story about a composer that took elements from other classic composers and set them to his own harmonies. When he did so, the critics apparently were pretty harsh on him, and told him to leave the classics alone. This anecdote relates to any person exploring any art form. We are all a walking collection of what has influenced us in the past, what resonates with us, so that when we create, we use our inspiration whether we realize it or not. So, we can never really leave the “classics,”  the ones that really stick with each of us, alone, can we? It also made me think: is taking someone else’s work and putting your own spin on it “stealing”? Is it any lesser of a work of art? My answer is no. As artists we take our own reality in through our own lens and create some sort of reflection on what we see. Any way that we do this, it is art. At least, to me.