Years ago I saw Austin Kleon give a short lecture on the topic of his recent book, “Steal Like An Artist” at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. I hope he doesn’t mind that I’ve already stolen a photo and a sketch of him. His book advises that if you don’t know where to start, begin by stealing like an artist to become one. Just the way famous bands like the Beatles started out playing covers, he suggests that all artists should begin borrowing from what they love. As you grow into an actual artist, it’s best to steal a tiny bit from many, many sources (nature, blogs, pop-art, classic art, overheard conversations, fashion, etc.) and pull what speaks to you. He urged us above all to steal the way our heros think, and not just copy or imitate their work. Then before you know it, according to Kleon, you’ll have developed your own voice and you’ll truly be creating.
In the book he cites many quotes by famous creative/artistic minds confessing that they steal. There are some guidelines to stealing in a moral way, which are outlined in the book.