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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. --T.S. Eliot

Steal Like an Artist

--by Maria Popova, syndicated from brainpickings.org, Mar 01, 2012

The genealogy of ideas, why everything is a remix, or what T.S. Eliot can teach us about creativity.

Austin Kleon is positively one of the most interesting people on the Internet. His Newspaper Blackout project is essentially a postmodern florilegium, using a black Sharpie to make art and poetry by redacting newspaper articles.

In this excellent talk from The Economist‘s Human Potential Summit, titled Steal Like an Artist, Kleon makes an articulate and compelling case for combinatorial creativity and the role of remix in the idea economy.

Kleon, who has clearly seen Kirby Ferguson’s excellent Everything is a Remix, echoes the central premise of my own recent talk on networked knowledge and combinatorial creativity:

Nothing is completely original. All artists’ work builds on what came before. Every new idea is just a remix or a mashup of two previous ideas.”

Amen.

And even more in the vein of the Brain Pickings ethos, reminiscent of this favorite quote by iconic designer Paula Scher:

We can pick our teachers and we can pick our friends and we can pick the books we read and the music we listen to and the movies we see, etcetera. You are a mashup of what you let into your life.”

So here’s to filling our mental petri dishes with the best, most diverse and cross-disciplinary ideas possible, so we can be our best combinatorial mashup-selves.




This article is reprinted with permission from Maria Popova. She is a cultural curator and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and Design Observer, and is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings.


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