In an information economy, originality and creativity are all-important skills. They're also some of the most misunderstood ideas. Speaking at TED, author Kirby Ferguson argues that creativity comes from copying, transforming and combining other works.
Anyone who's ever thought they were quoting Pablo Picasso is familiar with the adage, "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Ferguson breaks down this idea even further to explain that the three key elements of creativity — copy, transform and combine — are the building blocks of all original ideas. In short (and as his book is titled), everything is a remix. As 99u summarises:
Copy: No one starts out original. We cannot create anything new until we have a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding in our line of work. Copying is how we learn.
Transform: Taking an idea and creating variations. Major advances are usually not original ideas, but the breaking point in a long history of progress by many different individuals.
Combine: The most dramatic results happen when various ideas are combined together. By connecting ideas together, creative leaps can be made.
Original thought will always be a component of any great creativity. As any artist will tell you, finding your own unique voice is what makes you stand out. Just don't forget, you're also standing on the shoulders of others. Creativity is not the output of a vacuum. Creativity is the summary of many inputs.