Steal My Art

Oct 02, 2021

Interestingly, the origin of this quote is an example of great artists stealing. Steve Jobs actually said it, quoting Picasso in the 1980’s, but did Picasso ever actually say that?  There is no evidence he did. Was it possibly more interesting to attribute it to him than to a rephrasing of a quote from T.S. Eliot in his book, “The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920), which said the following:

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”

What does all this mean anyway?  It certainly sounds like a fine line.

In my opinion it means that yes, artists may imitate, or even copy. This is extremely helpful especially for newer artists when figuring out their craft.  It is merely practice.  And we know we’ve got to practice, practice, practice to improve.  

So go ahead and copy, but more importantly, learn.  

This can mean pulling up images of Van Gogh and trying to imitate his brushstrokes or following along with demonstration videos of your favorite artist and copying their painting stroke by stroke.  

Here’s the caveat to my opinion that artists may copy. Are these paintings to sell or promote as your own creations? No. They are all part of the process of learning.

People may be born with the inclination towards art, but no one can succeed without the necessary hours of study and practice.  So, copy the masters. Copy your favorite artist and figure out how they make their magic.  Then use that new knowledge to build upon. “Steal” their knowledge and now make it better. Make it your own.