“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”
- from Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING ORIGINAL
Don’t try to be original!
We often tend to think of the most innovative works of art, businesses, products, as being entirely original. Look closely enough though and you’ll find that they mostly consist of elements that already existed.
Nothing comes from nowhere.
No creative ever set out to create something original. Originality and innovation came as result of them adding to or taking away elements of previous works and design.
STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Orson Welles’ 1941 film Citizen Kane is frequently regarded as the greatest ever made. Often cited is its technical brilliance that shines through every scene. What Welles did though, is combine as many film techniques as he could into Citizen Kane, making perhaps the most technically accomplished film ever made. There is nothing necessarily new in the film in itself, but the combination of elements makes it so.
Creative work builds upon and deconstructs the works of others:
Beethoven’s early works were imitations of Mozart’s.
Dali was influenced by the work of Raphael and Vermeer.
Steve Jobs was influenced by the blending of art and science by Edwin Land (co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation).
The great Soviet film maker Andrei Tarkovsky has had an enormous influence on the Danish Lars von Trier. One only needs to watch the following video (in which the scenes by Tarkovsky are played side-by-side with scenes by von Trier to see the influence…
YOU ARE ALEADY ORIGINAL
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.” — Jim Jarmusch
What is it you love about the things you love and how could you make something even better?
What is it you dislike about the things you dislike and how could you make something even better?
Think of a film you’ve seen or a book you’ve read or a product you’ve used and ask yourself what you liked about it. Also, what didn’t you like about it? What can you take from that? How can you improve upon it?
You don’t need to be unique in your creative endeavours, you only need to add to the chain.
You are original because only you are you.