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This article was written on 28 Dec 2011, and is filled under Copy Paste.

Copy Paste: Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal???

What did Picasso mean with this famous quote?

I think he meant that every artist is influenced by what has been done before their time. If not by direct exposure, the information the artist is exposed to through other people, media, etc. influences them. We are all a product of our times and have the benefit of those who have walked similar paths we are now on.

We all borrow because it has all been done before and we are not the originators. To merely copy is to take an existing interpretation and not run away with it. To steal an idea is to take something of value and make it yours. To make anĀ artistic element yours you have to interpret it your way with your own approach.

This cannot be done when you are merely copying the idea. When copying the idea you are just doing everything exactly like it was previously done. When you have done it your way you have used the element and not simply duplicated it.

It is not required that you advance the element. You can go sideways and even backwards with the idea and you can be stealing the element and not copying it. On the contrary, when merely copying the element you have failed if you do not match the original.

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