One of the best books I’ve read in the past year is Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. The gist of the book is that all great artists take inspiration from other artists. Said even more broadly, your work is informed by (and may even be a copy of) the works of others.
Kleon’s argument that even if you tried to directly do your art the way another artist did theirs, it would not be the same. And when you’re starting out, this is how you learn taste and a direction for your own work.
I’ve been stealing like an artist for years. The work of others has been totally instrumental in the way I structure and create my own work.
But 2018 needs to be different — I need to embrace more of my own instincts.
And this is scary. As I work through the messaging or positioning of my products and services, I will often look to see how someone who operates in a similar space does their own messaging.
Well he uses this terminology, and he’s successful…maybe I should use that phrasing as well.
Over the past several months, I’ve been much more likely to follow that line of thinking rather than my own instincts. And even though this has worked well enough, it’s impossible to know what I’ve missed by not following my own gut.
The same goes with general feedback; I am lucky to have a very strong tribe of people who are willing to give me feedback (great feedback) whenever I ask. But, I need to be more open to ignoring that feedback if my gut tells me to head in my own direction.
There are no hard and fast rules here. I don’t know how often I should be trusting my gut vs. going with informed opinions or stealing like an artist.
But I do know that if I’m going to make my own way and stand out, it’s gotta be more than what I’m doing now.