I’ve been following illustrator/writer Ursula Vernon’s blog for years, and she’s always got hilarious and insightful things to say about art and life in general.
She just wrote something great about the creative process, inspired by a lecture by poet Billy Collins. Mostly putting this here so I can hang on to it, but I do highly recommend her blog as excellent reading, whether or not you like her style of illustrations.
“When we talk about finding ones voice, or pursuing one’s original vision or any of the other obtuse verbage you hang about the question of “What do I sound like?” and “What story am I telling?” and “How do I say this so anyone cares?”, it sounds remarkably self-involved, as if you go into deep meditation and navel gazing and sink a bore-hole into some personal creative well and possibly the serpent Kundalini rises up your spine bearing a small, exquisitely monogrammed invitation from your creative self.
Of course, this is a load of crap.
Originality is not something you get from within. You actually beg, borrow and steal it, generally from other people, frequently motivated by being gnawingly jealous of how much better they are than you.*
If you’re a poet, says Collins, you read all the poets on the shelf and I would extend it to say that if you’re an artist, you look at as much other art as you can cram in your eyeballs and if you’re a writer you read. A lot.
Then you shove every influence into a blender and hit puree.”
Read the whole thing