There are countless bands out there who get there start by imitating the Beatles (… or Elvis … or Dylan … or any other huge band).
What’s a painting of the sky but an imitation of natures uncapturable beauty?
What’s a sculpture but the imitation of human subtlety and movement?
What’s a photograph of the night sky but a pixelated imitation of the universe’s wonder?
Art imitates even when you don’t realize it.
I’m not setting out to copy Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss or Steven Pinker’s writing style intentionally, but I’m sure I’m stealing some of their ideas unintentionally by absorbing their work. (I do intend on creating a similar lifestyle and career they’ve created for themselves.)
Steve Jobs once said, “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas”. (Shameless indeed Steve! Since you’re stealing from Picasso’s ideology!)
You can put a patent on a device, but you can’t put a patent on a philosophy. By imitating Jobs, or Picasso’s ideology, we infuse their ideas with our own, which creates a new paradigm of ideas.
The freshest ideas come from the combination of other people’s ideas. The act of combining them puts your unique spin on the idea.
Imitation is how we improve
Imitation isn’t evil, it’s a natural part of finding your own voice. We should never hate or disapprove the person trying to dance like Michael Jackson or think like Elon Musk. Imitation leads to uniqueness. Where the line is drawn is when you copy/paste someone’s work and slap your name on it. Copying and pasting will neither improve your abilities nor give you the outcome you’re looking for. Plagiarism is like mindlessly watching Law and Order while playing a game on your phone and cooking dinner at the same time — nothing tasty or interesting ever comes out of it.
Seek out imitation in your work and passions.
Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner