During a recent Chase Jarvis Live, Chase sat down with San Fransisco DJ Mike Relm to discuss the topic of “remixing” as it pertains to creating your own work from the influences of others. Here’s my two cents on the interview.
“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
Whether it was paintings, sculpture, architecture, poetry, or food Picasso understood the concept that everything he created was in some way influenced by everything else around him. He understood that in order to truly create unique works of art it was important to not just borrow those ideas, but to steal them. Basically, what Picasso was referring to was that to borrow something means to simply copy what’s already been done, but to steal means to take something and make it your own. Ironically enough even T.S. Eliot in a way borrowed from Picasso when he said, “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal…”
In today’s age of copyright law, watermarks, patents pending, and registered trademarks this is a difficult concept to grasp, and I’m certainly not suggesting that you run right out and find someone who’s already doing a certain project, turn around and do the same thing. But that’s the point now isn’t it.
Just as many artists and creatives before us, we’re constantly being influenced by everything around us. Whether direct or indirect… whether we’re even aware of it or not, we ingest fresh ideas, absorb that which inspires us, soak up creativity, and develop new ways of thinking. We take in all this information, input it into our little databases, prioritize what’s important, weed out the minutia, and out pops our very own artist’s interpretation. If you are influenced by an idea, a song, a painting, an ad campaign, or really anything for that matter, “steal it” and create your own interpretation of it… allow it to influence your own work. Take bits and pieces from everything around you and create your own body of work from those influences.
At the end of the day, we as artists must decide… do we want to simply copy that which has already been done, or do we want to be great and create our own masterpieces?