When I get a good idea for an illustration or a personal project, I almost immediately embrace it as a discovery. But, is it a real discovery? Is it an original idea? Where do the ideas come from?
The brain stores more information that we can handle with.
Sometimes we see an idea somewhere, and it’s stored in our memory without noticing it.
At some point, and after a while, the same idea emerges from the subconscious as if it were a new idea.
Sometimes finding an idea is a real discovery without unconscious intervention. But that idea was previously found by someone else without a connection.
And sometimes we find a new genuine idea.
Everything is a Remix
Creativity and originality are very complex concepts.
How is the process of generating new ideas?
Kirby Ferguson shares some interesting thoughts in Everything is a Remix, a fantastic documentary about how ideas and innovations are generated.
Kirby explores the basic elements of creativity: copy, transform and combine.
The documentary analyses the topic from a historical and social perspective. It shows how inspiration and transformation of previous creations have been the foundations of music, films, technology, art or even life.
Here are some of the most interesting points:
- Everything we make is a remix of existing creations.
- Creation requires influence.
- We need copying to build the foundation of knowledge and understanding. We can’t introduce something new until we are fluid in the language of our domain. After that, things can get interesting.
- After dominating the fundamentals through copying, it’s possible to create something new through transformation, taking an idea and creating variations.
- The most dramatic results happen when different ideas are combined.
- The concept of multiple discoveries exists. The same idea can emerge in different places without connection between them. Innovation is unavoidable.
- We all are building with the same materials.
- The new ideas evolve from the old ones. There are no original ideas. There are tipping points in a continuous line of innovation by many different people.
- When we copy, we justify it. When others copy, we vilify it. Most of us have no problem with copying, as long as we’re the ones doing it.
When it comes to art, creativity and originality are even more critical.
We all develop new artwork based on our skills, experience and references, pursuing the idea of creating original artwork.
But what does being original mean? Does that concept still exist?
Maybe it doesn’t exist anymore, and everything is a remix. Maybe we can only generate new ideas copying, transforming and combining previous ideas as Kirby points out.
And maybe the main problem, after all, is to accept it and free our egos of the responsibility of being original. Which requires to change our view of concepts as creativity, copying or originality.
What do you think, guys? I would love to hear your comments!
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!