According to Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist, the so-called “original” thinkers and creators are simply people who effectively learned to remix other people’s materials.
Originality isn’t about doing what’s never been done in a strict sense, but it’s about the unique way in which each individual gives expression to his or her artistic influences. Quoting Jonathan Lethem, Kleon argues that “when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”
It’s a simple idea, but not as simple as “copy the people you like” and you’ll be an instant genius.
The kind of stealing Kleon refers to is not about pretending you came up with somebody else’s idea or just modifying a few details, but it’s about being strategic and selective with the process of choosing your influences, taking what resonates with you, making other people’s ideas your own, and being diverse enough to find unexplored points of intersection between your various influences.
TK Coleman, 5 Ways to Steal Like An Artist