All artists are phonies, right?

Okay, maybe phony is kind of a strong word. And surely phony baloney is a strong meat. But Jeffrey Lewis' fabu blog entry "Rip-Off Artist" in the NYT's Measure for Measure blog on music makes a kind of good point.

How many truly original ideas are there?

Isn't it true that all artists are simply ripping off ideas they see around them?

I was once told by a theatrical director that I should try to watch other people audition as much as I could, steal all of their best ideas, and present my work as something that only I could do. It was the best advice I think I ever got as an auditioning actor. But it does make me feel a little cheap and dirty.

If you're a true innovator, or you know of other artists who are incapable of grafting any idea from other art because they are so pure, do tell, do tell.

But don't fret if you can't honestly think of these examples. I'm a fan of the phony artist who happily admits to being influenced by tons of factors when creating art. It helps me know better as an artist myself where to look for the best stealable ideas.