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The myth of originality (Creativity series, part 1)

Did you ever find yourself paralyzed by the pressure of creating works that are 100% original? It happens to me a ALL THE TIME. So many great ideas I’ve pushed aside, just because I found out that someone else had an idea with a small resemblance to mine.

When searching for a name for this blog, I wrote off about 10 different names I had in mind. I researched each one of them, and discovered they are already being used. Finally,  before giving up this whole blog, I gave myself a break, and settled for a name even though it exists somewhere else.  It wasn’t easy…

I had to tell myself it doesn’t mean that I’m not creative enough. That’s why I like it when someone else reminds me that 100% originality is not only impossible, it is also unnecessary. that’s what Kirby Ferguson did in his project, Everything is a Remix.

The act of creation is surrounded by a fog of myths. Myths that creativity comes via inspiration. That original creations break the mold, that they’re the products of geniuses, and appear as quickly as electricity can heat a filament. But creativity isn’t magic: it happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials.


I had a belly dance teacher who kept telling us to copy from each other. Copy my art? to me it sounded like blasphemy. She herself was copying from us, her students… Ferguson, in his movie, claims that this is exactly how it should be:

And the soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand, even though it gives us so much… and that’s copying. Put simply, copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain, and we do that through emulation.

He is giving us great examples. It’s amazing to see how renowned works of art that strike us with their imagination and innovation, are actually based on previous pieces.



After we’ve grounded ourselves in the fundamentals through copying, it’s then possible to create something new through transformation. Taking an idea and creating variations. This is time-consuming tinkering but it can eventually produce a breakthrough.

This is part 3, called “The Elements of Creativity”. but if you ever feel the need to be original all the time, go and watch the whole thing

Dance Bonus:
“Hey,” you might say, “this guy said nothing about dance!” so here is something for you. Did you know that the choreography for ’Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé was inspired by “Mexican Breakfast”, a 1969 routine choreographed by Bob Fosse?

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