If you met the artist you’re stealing from in a stalled elevator, would they shake your hand or punch you in the face?
Despite the common saying, imitation is not flattery. It’s transformation that is flattery: taking what you’ve stolen and turning it into something new.
Austin Kleon returns to an idea that is central to his book Steal Like an Artist. Summarising TS Eliot, Kleon suggests that the secret is not imitation, but rather transformation. This reminds me of Harold Bloom’s idea of ‘anxiety’. I also love Kleon’s closing remarks: