Steal Like An Artist While Emulating Chefs

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It’s hard to argue that we are constantly being influenced by all that we see in the world around us – consciously, but definitely also unconsciously.

Being aware of this fact and on the lookout for the recyclable building blocks that make something -anything- “great,” allows you to extract those building blocks, ideas and tricks, blending them all together to grow in the unique way you want to grow.


Situation: Running into something great that is “not your style.”

Catch: By thinking that it’s “not your thing,” dismissing it, overlooking aspects of it that could potentially be borrowed, transferred and or learned from.

Solution: Lend and blend. Look closely for fractions of what it is exactly that makes something qualitative -even in styles that aren’t yours- by analyzing and taking apart.

Find the outstanding fractions, study those, see what you can learn from them, if and how you can merge it with your own style.

Ideas inspired by / stolen from: Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist), Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (ReWork)

“Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing.” – Austin Kleon
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Rip off the greats, and the goods as well. Mimic and make it your own. Try and err.” Leo Babauta
“Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.” Irwin Greenberg

Piano Wisdom Nugget 9 – Steal Like An Artist While Emulating Chefs

 

Steal like an artist

Even when you try to copy your examples as closely as you possibly can, you’ll never be exactly the same. You are you.

But don’t sweat that. Having your own style is great! Awesome even. Your own approach. Your own sound. Your own character.

Still, as we’re all well aware of, to improve and cultivate that style of yours, studying the greats in your field and following their example is one of the best ways to learn.

Here’s a suggestion though – how about stepping out of that comfort zone and looking at people that are good in a (closely) related field, style, that is totally NOT your style?

There’s much to learn there too, if you know what to look for.

You’ll likely find a lot of aspects there that are not common in your style.

If they, however, are what makes that style you loathe of great quality, they might very well add quality (and a unique one at that) to your style.

I’m not suggesting you insert stuff you hate into what you love. I’m suggesting to look for parts of a “foreign” skill that by themselves when extracted and taken out of the context of that style that isn’t yours, intrigue or even attract you.

Artists do this all the time, letting themselves “be influenced by” other artists from different styles. Borrowing (or just flat out stealing) fractions of their skills to blend in with their own style.

This is how you create something uniquely your own. A combination, however peculiar to others, of different great building blocks that you like.

You’ll be surprised, when you set out to look for quality, how much likable building blocks there are to find – even in those styles you don’t particularly love as a whole.

Emulate Chefs

As Hansson and Fried wrote in their great book “Rework” – the “big” chefs had it all figured out even before the whole social media craze where everybody shares everything. Big chefs were always sharing – their tips. Their tricks. Their recipies.

Now everybody does that. Because it works.

“Emulate Chefs” therefore becomes my analogy for looking at what exactly it is that is working so well in another field and seeing how you can translate- or take that idea into your field.

If we blend “emulating chefs” (looking at completely different fields) with the stealing of aspects from different styles (closely related fields) like artists do, we find an exponent.

A complete merger of everything great intrigues you in some form. Quality that stands out to you – to create a distinctive combination making up your uniquely optimized you.

Conclusion

It’s hard to argue that we are constantly being influenced by all that we see in the world around us – consciously, but definitely also unconsciously.

Being aware of this fact and on the lookout for the recyclable building blocks that make something -anything- “great,” allows you to extract those building blocks, ideas and tricks, blending them all together to grow in the unique way you want to grow.

Analyzing and taking something apart is good practice in and of itself to learn and see the building blocks that some skill is made up of.

Your own “style” is simply the sum of different fractions that you like, multiplied by your creativity.

Be sure to seek and pick your fractions carefully – and in seemingly uncommon places too.

Exercise / Getting Practical:

Listen to someone that works in a completely different field, or has a totally different style than you have. If it’s music – listen to greats of a genre that is not your style, or that you don’t even particularly like.

What can be found in their style, their approach, their vision, that makes them great? Is this something that you can relate to, that resonates with you?

Try to isolate a part of their overall skillset that you particularly like, and analyze what it is exactly that makes this great.

Other area of life application

In which instance or other areas of your life have you heard something, someone or seen anything that you thought was great, even though not at all your style?

Could you see yourself learning from them by analyzing (a) part(s) of their particular skillset? A foundational building block in the approach of this “chef” that you can blend in with your own style – stealing like an artist?

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