Nothing Is Original

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you a list of the books I was reading over the summer. One of those books is called Steal Like An Artist by Austn Kleon.

One of the chapters in the book is called Nothing Is Original, it got me thinking about design and the design process. In the book he says "What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original."

For me this is a true statement. I am inspired by everyday things I see around me, light fixtures, buildings, unusual objects. When I see these things I break them down in my mind and take the shape of the parts and come up with some of my designs.

I would like to think my ideas are original, but I understand that I am not the first person to create jewelry with hardware and I won't be the last.

The book says that if we are free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and embrace the influence.

What do you think? Is nothing original?

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  1. I agree with that for the most part, esp. as it pertains to jewelry. All you can do is try and find your niche or your own style, but everything's based on what came before it. But some crafts I've seen on pinterest do seem to be new & original, like the melted crayon art.

  2. I agree that nothing is original. I may be playing with wording but I do think that things can be fresh even if they aren't original. A reworking here or a minor tweaking there.

    Your post has me thinking.

  3. I completely agree! We are influenced by so many things and unconsciously create things based on what we have seen.

  4. I completely agree. Nothing is truly original. I mean.. I can't say I invented the clutch or handbag. But, what is original is the inspiration you find to pick out that particular fabric or embellishment. I try not to put too much pressure on myself to be original.

  5. Very nice post! I agree, I think we are so influenced by all the things around us and our subconscious picks it all up, that nothing is original. However, it's great to see "twists" to things we're accustomed to seeing.

  6. I agree - we are all influenced (even subconsciusly) by others that came before us! I have found though, that when I am inspired by an idea and apply it some form in my artwork, it comes out looking completely different than I intended anyway, so I don't worry to much about it....

  7. It depends. The seed came from something, but it's still original. We can grow the seed with things already in existence, does it change the seed?

    Not living in isolation, we are going to acquire/absorb/morph ideas even if we don't acknowledge it.

    Great post!

  8. It's true that nothing is completely original, because there is always that something that came before it. The key word there is "completely," and it's always important to realize that your inspiration came from some where or something or someone. Originality doesn't have to always be something you strive for, because whatever you create, you always put a little bit of YOU into it too.


  9. Quite true! And I like your take on it - you weren't the first & you likely won't be the last. We are constantly influenced by things we see around us, sometimes I think even without realizing it!

  10. I like to think that what I'm creating is unique even if it's not original. I draw inspiration from so many forms. The idea for a new project may start from someone else's work, but what I make is something totally different from the original inspiration.

  11. You betcha! We all get inspired by everything around us. Sometimes just the smell of food or the colors of someone's nail enamel can trigger off a design!

  12. I've heard it said that "there's nothing new under the Sun". That may be true - for today - tomorrow is a whole new day. :)
    Once upon a time people did not have televisions, telephones or indoor plumbing and it wasn't that long ago that no one had a personal computer (a PC). The first computers were mammoth, gigantic things that took up complete floors in an office building. :D So yes, new things do come up and new ideas are born.

  13. I have that book on my wishlist!
    Nothing really is original, although each artist puts his/her personal stamp on things, which is fine be me!

  14. I love it that you mention originality and the fact that nothing is original. This thought is very humbling and the more crafters and artists know it, the better. That might as well help them create even better!


Your thoughts and ideas are an important part of the conversation, thanks for sharing!