“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” -Pablo Picasso
I love this quote. It seems to have been written for graphic and web designers of our so called “myspace generation.” Any decent artist learns from, looks up to and in some way emulates his or her peers. Certainly other artist’s works influence the standards to which your works are judged from. So I am not shy about “stealing” from other artists, taking their ideas, and making them my own. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t simply recreate someone elese’s work and say I did it, that’s plagiarism and what “bad artists” do… I look at the good ideas other people have and use them to my own ends, creating what I hope even surpasses the inspiration. Learning is part of any pursuit, that’s why craftsmen and tradespeople apprentice under experienced workers and why business people attend god awful conferences and professional development. Artists, since we seem to be so selfish and egocentric by default, “steal” from each other, trying to be the biggest “genius.” Holding on to ideas and techniques like misers. Ideas were never meant to be owned. And if you want to horde it, I’m going to steal it.
But anyways, I have an example. The other day I was browsing the web, I found a graphic design website with a slick layout, very slick. (Slick enough for me to “steal” it). I saw some ideas in it I liked, a basic structure that could be changed to accommodate more content, or differently organized content, be stylized differently to have a different user interaction. It had good bones. So I sat back and absorbed it. This was the first time in a while where a website had caught my attention. So I sat. And then had an “I can do that” moment… followed by a maniacal “anything you can do I can do better” moment. And I triple clicked on my photoshop icon, had to slow myself down before I crashed my computer. Next I opened dreamweaver… I began to create the background image out of simple elements… I previewed it in a browser, readjusted some things. Laid in some filler content. This little equivalent of a sketch of a website was enough to get me thinking about the possibilities for the application of this same concept… to all kinds of projects.
So Here is what I learned: