Everything is a Remix Documentary

Written by Magoz
3 min read 26.5k views 11 comments

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!


Nomadic illustrator. Thinker. Seeker.


  1. M
    Marcelo Menezes Vianna

    Great article. I think it so real!

  2. Fantástico reportaje! Totalmente de acuerdo”no hay nada nuevo bajo el sol” y por eso mismo es tan difícil encontrar buenas ideas. La ilustración ,magnífica!Hasta pronto.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this, Magoz!

    I’ve been struggling for years with the hunt of the most original ideas and the only thing I got was being frustrated. In the last two years I’ve learnt that the key is just hard and constant work, and as long as you develop your craft, you will find your own voice.
    Each human being is different and comes from different backgrounds, so I think that mixture of influences, tastes, explorations and, of course, constant work, will turn into your own and personal style of communication.

    • I totally agree, Joan!
      The style is a consequence of the development of certain workflows and points of view that have been acquired over the years under a constant flow of influence.
      Finding your own voice is also a consequence of the same process plus the development of critical thinking.

  4. J

    me da risa que des por hecho que tus ideas son brillantes, debes tener varias abuelas!

    • Hola Juan, lamento que se malinterpretaran mis palabras. Me refería a ese momento Eureka cuando encontramos una buena idea.
      He cambiado el adjetivo y ahora creo que está mucho mejor.

  5. C
    Caleb Jay Allen

    This was a great article. So many people get kind of hung up on trying to not look at and copy from what they see or hear. I used to be among them. I’ve heard teachers and some creatives talk about being prohibited to search the internet for inspiration when working at a company and I could never fully understand the logic behind that. The process described in this article I feel even goes beyond the arts, it’s actually how humanity evolves.

    • I agree, but it’s also true that some students go directly to the computer after receiving a brief. The internet has replaced the thinking process for some of them, or, at least, it has given more value to the container than the content.

      Thank you for your comment, Caleb!

  6. U

    Can I ask what year this was written? for referencing purposes?

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