I’m reading “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon. 10 things no one told you about how to be creative.
Easy to read with doodles. Check out his blog and advice to recent graduates: http://austinkleon.com/
Photo: (2 of 6 paintings titled “Cage”) Gerard Richter’s paintings at the Tate Modern, London while I was there in May 2015. Could it be because of the Chelsea Flower Show, these paintings look like landscape and remind me of Monet’s waterlilies.
Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We learn by copying. Pretending to be our heroes. Copying is about reverse engineering. “Start copying what you love. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.” Yohji Yamamoto.
Says Kleon, the human hand is incapable of making a perfect copy. Kleon produced a long list of artists who swear by copying.
We already know Picasso does that.
(1) Figure out who to copy: your heroes – people you love, people who inspire you, people you want to be.
– Steal from all of them. Writer Wilson Mizner said, if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research. Cartoonist Gary Panter: ” if you’re influenced by one person, everyone will say you’re the next “whoever”. If you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re so original.
(2) Figure out what to copy. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. Glimpse into their mind – internalise their perspective – way of looking at the world.
Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
Kleon quotes Conan O’brien – comedians try to emulate their heroes, fall short and end up doing their own thing. Johnny Carson tried to be Jack Benny but ended up Johnny Carson. David Letterman tried to copy Johnny Carson but ended up David Letterman. Conan O’brien tried to be David Letterman but endedup Conan O’brien.
Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives. That is how we evolve. Mere imitation is not flattery.
Transform the works of your heroes.
(3) Make friends. Ignore enemies. Stand next to talent. You’re going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with.
(4) Quit picking fights and go make something
(5) Keep a praise file – Life is a lonely business. Keep a file of nice things people say about you. Don’t get lost in past glory – but keep the file around for when you need the lift. When the gloomy days are here, open the file. Better than chocolates.
You may come up with a different list of gems from this little book from mine. Go read it!