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Every One Of Us As Creatives Needs To Steal Like An Artist But We Have To Do It Without Being A Thief

I can remember what it was like to first start filmmaking, to paint for the first time and to create my first podcast.

It’s kind of crazy to think back to those times, but I do remember what it felt like. 

Everything felt slow. And my curiosity was often slowed, or blocked by worrying about what others would think, or questioning if I was doing things right, or wrong. 

The wild thing is, now that I’ve been through this super speed content creation learning, I know that I could learn the next bunch of things way faster. 

Everytime we truly go through the growth mindset process we learn faster and faster and faster. This is getting better at the most valuable skill, kinda meta, but “HOW TO LEARN”.

And I remember, it can be really intimidating to first start creating. It’s scary. 

To fix this we need to understand both “why” and how to steal like an artist?

Why You Must Steal Like An Artist

But understanding that Stealing Like An Artist is THE FIRST STEP makes it quite a bit easier. 

Give yourself permission to steal from creatives you look up to and it unlocks exponential learning in that medium.

This is because EVERYONE goes from consuming other people’s content, imitating, to starting to make their own. 

Maybe you really look up to a few youtubers, or IG influencers and you want to get started making and sharing for yourself. 

Even once we make the decision to go from watcher, listener, or reader to creator it can be tough to get started. 

Why Do We Procrastinate?

So many things lead to procrastination, like 

  • Imposter syndrome
  • Feeling like we don’t have the right gear
  • Overlearning
  • Over preparing 

And so much more.

This same thing kind of happens when we move to a new platform as well. 

Even if you are a successful creator on one platform, in one medium, but you want to expand your creations.

Maybe you’ve grown a following on Facebook, have an engaging group and page built primarily from reels and you want to start writing on Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Perhaps the opposite is true that you have a presence on Twitter as a writer, but creating some longer form videos is something you are itching to do.

The way to free ourselves from this is to copy people.

How To Steal Like An Artist?

By finding creators on these platforms, and full speed copying them. 

That’s the trick but it’s important to understand why this is crucial.

We are not born with the ability to walk, talk, catch a ball, drive a car, or do math. 

In all areas of life, we learn by copying others.

Same goes for making art. 

For creating.

If we are not willing to copy others, then we will never find our own voice.

The copying is step one.

We get inside the minds of those creating before us. 

And then we find our own voice.

It’s important to point out that we don’t learn by copying the surface of what they do.

If I steal Post Malone’s flow, rhyme structure, beats and lyrics, I’m not actually creating.

Instead, valuable, true copying happens when I seek to understand what it feels like to think like them.

To listen to things he writes, pay attention to the amount of words per minute, and hear the style of the track. 

But instead of copying and pasting, I attempt to come up with similar creative decisions.  

Real good stealing is about trying things out for ourselves. 

But, if I love how Casey Neistat shares quotes on cardboard with a sharpie, maybe I can incorporate into one of my own videos hand writing on a steamy mirror and that inspiration was driven by creating physical text in a video. Not because it’s a sharpie.

Not because it was cardboard. But because it showed physical words at the right moment in a movie I make.

I’m launching a new channel on youtube, so the videos don’t get confused with the podcast.
And when I make my videos they will be my own. But they’ll definitely be influenced by the likes of Michelle Khare, Cody Wanner, Ali Abdall and Audrey Ember.

So, try studying creators who make awesome things. They could create on the same medium and platform as you. Or they might create with similar topics and ideas as you. Or both. 

Copy aspects of what those creators are doing.

Don’t plagiarize, but copy them. 

And if you copy them enough you will shift from imitation to inspiration. 

From copying to emulating. From emulating to making your own stuff

Then, and only then, you will start creating in your own voice.

Three Ways To Steal Like An Artist

How I would do this is by creating a quick steal list.

Victim list is a bit harsh, especially because any great creator would be honored and thrilled for you to steal from them. But I think you get the idea.

So here it goes, How To Steal Like An Artist. I would do this is to make a list of six creators you look up to.

  1. Find two people creating content in the medium you have chosen.
  2. Two people creating on the platform you have chosen
  3. And two people who share similar topics, or ideas you have chosen.
  4. Steal some of their style, creative decisions and thought process as you start shipping your own work.

Side Note: Austin Kleon covers this concept beautifully in his book titled “Steal Like An Artist”. I definitely think it’s a must read for any creative person.

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