'Stealing Like an Artist' OR Just Plain Stealing?


Steal Like an Artist…

Everything we do comes from the ideas that are around us. We’re always tapping into some greater creative force that we’re not aware of, and, sometimes we might just be aware of it but it isn’t intentional. It could not be any other way—everything comes from something, and everything comes from nothing, the great paradox of innovation.

What we create comes from what we see, and who we know, combined with skill of some invisible master artist at work in the background.

I expect to be influenced by the books I read and the ideas I am discussing and absorbing—that's why I engage with them!

I expect that my clients will pick up ideas from me and play with them before they fully integrate them into their own work—of course—that's the natural way of learning; trying things on to see if they fit, adapting and shaping. I encourage it, it's natural.

And, as teachers, we want our content to be used; we want our message to spread, it's a mark that we are creating change in those around us.

As coaches, we want our words to spark a change in someone, that’s why we do what we do.

However, as a creator, our personal integrity and the authenticity of our work must come from the merging of our own content and the container we've 'borrowed' from someone else, AND from the intention behind how we create it.

True creativity is inside-out…

And yet…

…intention is everything.

When we’re playing with the putty of ideas, it doesn’t feel the same as making a carbon copy of someone else’s work. When we’re trying on a new technique for fit, we’re checking for tightness and looseness to see where we need to adjust, we don’t pretend to be that other person.

We shouldn’t be afraid that our own creativity is being influenced by things we see, read, listen to. Or by our experience, our history and our perspective. Those experiences are usually so deep as to be unconscious in our creativity—we don't know, and couldn't pinpoint exactly where any single idea is coming from.

Which is a very different approach to seeing someone else's work and creating your own, inferior version. Because it is necessarily inferior by virtue of the fact that it isn't your creation.

With love,


Cathy Presland