My inspiration comes from the environment that surrounds me, and by that, I mean that I steal everything I see.
Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Now I am nowhere near as creative, talented or successful as Picasso but that doesn’t make the quote any less true. The book Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon is filled with quotes from countless renowned artists who have similar viewpoints as Picasso. Two of my favorite quotes, that perfectly sum up what Picasso says are, “Nothing is original,” from Jim Jarmusch and “If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.” I interpret the meaning of these quotes to be, to create something truly unique you must use inspiration from so many things that the audience can’t possibly apprehend where everything comes from, so it appears original.
So now that we are all on the same page, let’s talk about the artists I steal from the most.
I love to steal from The Beatles. In seven years, The Beatles recorded 13 studio albums, 12 of which went to #1 on the charts. In my opinion, the most impressive thing about The Beatles is how different all their albums are. It shows that the Fab Four were inspired by so many things and let that inspiration direct their art. As a Producer at PEG, I think that is the big take away for me. If we are working on a video piece for a client, I need to blend together inspiration from all my surroundings to create something truly unique. That will result in the best product. Even in a simple 2-minute video, there are so many things that inspiration can impact like camera movements, lighting, color palettes, editing, music, and animation. And if you let your inspiration dictate those things for you, when you look back at your body of work, you will see an eclectic story that reflects your experiences and surroundings.
My creative inspiration in film comes from three specific directors who, if asked, would probably say they believe in the same idea as Picasso. Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and Edgar Wright are all directors who have become famous by developing an auteurist style, taken from pieces of art from other parts of the world and old films. Unlike the Beatles, however, their individual signature style of their films can easily be traced back to their original works. If you watch Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, you can see similar techniques and styles to his first film, Bottle Rocket. Even though these films have drastically different budgets and almost two decades in between their release dates, you can tell they were made by the same person. But you can also spot moments in all of their filmographies where they are inspired by something new. Stop motion inspires Wes Anderson to create a stop motion film. Quentin Tarantino’s love of actual film inspires him to keep a dying art alive. And in Edgar Wright’s most recent film, Baby Driver, he shows inspiration from classic car films. The important thing to note with these inspirations is that they all came will into the directors’ careers and were significant departures from the styles for which they had become famous.
There are two key points to take away from this, the first being that there is so much art out there that you never know when inspiration will happen. The second is that if inspiration comes you owe it to yourself to work it into your art even if you already have a developed style.
You can’t control what you are inspired by and you can’t control what you will do with that inspiration. The human mind is incredibly powerful and incredibly unpredictable. I can’t say what will inspire me next or how I will use it, but by looking at the artists that inspire me, I will attempt to get the most out of that inspiration when it comes.