Great artists steal

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

“The quote in this form was a favorite of Steve Jobs but he but he was probably (mis)quoting Pablo Picasso who said “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal” – who in turn might be rephrasing Igor Stravinsky, but both sayings may well originate in T. S. Eliot’s dictum: “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 than that from which it is torn.” – The origins of this quote itself is an example of great artists stealing.” 

When finding your groove as a creator, it’s important to be aware of what you see that inspires you. Are you going for the same style as your favorites?

 Coming up with experimental concepts out of left field can sometimes result in an inaccessible and failed attempt to be different. Art, as we know, imitates life, and if you can’t create something that is akin to reality – at least adjacent to what is familiar – you might lose people. However, there is a reason you learn the basics when starting out in an art form and technique is valued. Learning the craft means studying how it is done well, and then putting a spin on it.

 Some of the best stealing comes in the form of adaptations, or “inspired by” stories, that build on the familiar and beloved. For example: The Lion King, which is Hamlet, took a story of a king and made him the ruler of a section of Africa that is inhabited by rare singing and dancing animals. It wasn’t a brand-new concept, but it was different enough to be interesting, feel fresh, and seem new.

 Beware plagiarism, blatant copying, and appropriation. Be honest and up front about whose work you emulate – and thank them for inspiring you!

 This post “stolen” from ideas written here: and here:

 Who do you ‘steal’ from? Tell us who inspires your art in the comments!