Most Art is Unoriginal. And That’s Okay. Here’s why.

What holds back a lot of earnest, youngish people and artists is the notion of doing something completely unoriginal.

Scratch that, I’ll use “I” statements.

What’s held me back is the notion that I had to create something breathtaking original with my art.

That it had to be unlike anything else around.

I used to get mad at art that I was like, “Well, this is just like this other thing, why am I the only one that sees this?”

However, I wasn’t the only that saw it.

Everyone saw it. And they liked it. I was the only one frustrated by it.

This is different than replicating something exactly and calling it your own (that’s plagiarism).

This is also different than creating a derivative (that’s lazy…new fidget spinner anyone?).

What I didn’t realize is that…

  1. People like things that are similar to what they already like.
  2. People like to find the influences in things. It makes them feel smart. Then, they feel gratified.
  3. People are weirded out by new things. New things are risky.

So…what do you do? How can you make people comfortable with what you’re creating?

You take the original thing…and you tweak it.

You find the adjacent possible that is hovering on the edge.

It is familiar enough to be comfortable, but new enough to be intriguing.

That’s the balance you’re looking for.


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I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write and write about everyday life at Vaguely Feel. My latest novel is Taco Jehovah.