Why You Must Copy and Steal Everything

posted in: Uncategorized | 16

April 25th, 2011

Creative genius doesn’t always strike when you want it to. For me, it never flows when I am sitting down waiting for it. Creativity comes from inspiration. Inspiration from what excites you. Locate that, and you’ve found your source for creativity. So find it. Then copy and steal it.


i didn’t come here to copy, i came here to steal.

If you’ve checked out my tumblr at all, you may recognize that line. It’s the header I’ve had on my tumblr since it’s inception. I started that tumblr as my digital dumping grounds for all the links, images, quotes, ideas, concepts, and articles I come across on the web. If you’re like me, you also email yourself these same things, where they end up in the endless archives of gmail, unsorted, unlabeled, lost. That can be quite useless.


Way back when, before Al Gore invented the internet, folks used a ‘commonplace book‘. Think of it like the junk drawer; where all the things you kinda think you may need or find amusing, end up. It may be practical or it may be worthless but easy on the eyes. The idea is that over the course of your life, you come across a diverse collection of inspiration. Keeping everything in one place for reference, even random browsing, can be enough to get those creativity gears grinding again.


“It’s not where you take things from, its where you take them to.”
-Jean-Luc Godard

Start now.
Use tumblr, a private blog, even a moleskin. Just start. You’ll be happy when you can look back at a few hundred or thousand seemingly random posts, images, thoughts, ideas, all coming from what caught your creative attention at one point or another. The lifting off point is closer than you think.

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”

– Designer Yohji Yamamoto’s advice to young people



16 Responses

  1. I love “stealing”. I think in order for us to gain knowledge we have to search and see what other people think, feel and like. You talked about ways to express your creativity. Another great resource that my friend Nicole showed me was dropbox. It is a way to store all your photos, documents etc. and you have the ability to share them with friends and family whenever you choose.

    I know with one of may passions: health and wellness, a lot of what I learn and know comes from trial and error. We are still finding out new findings and research this very minute. In order to be up to date you have to read and steal ideas and try them yourself. I am always cutting out new foods, and adding new foods to see what works for me and my body. I had to steal and copy to find these things out. Just give credit where it’s do!

    Two quotes I will leave you with….. because I love to STEAL quotes!

    “God made man first, but there’s always a rough draft before the final copy.” -Victor Hugo

    “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” -Anthony Robbins

    • Dropbox keeps making the rounds… I’ll have to check that out already. I know I’m late on the game with that one.

      I like that you mentioned credit. I have been thinking about that a lot lately too. I may have a future post about giving credit…

      Your Hugo quote is debatable 🙂 but cute. The Anthony Robbins one is great. I haven’t heard that one yet. Thanks for always sharing such thoughtful responses Meg!

  2. Love the post – and it is so true! I have spent a ton of time researching ,reading…and stealing! I use several tools and am not sure which one rises to teh top for me – depends on the purpose I guess. I use Dropbox and Evernote – and love that both sync to my iphone. I also use Diigo. Lastly mac Journal is where I do all of my brainstorming from eerything I have read. Hmmm….and the sticky note app on my Mac. Geesh so much to keep up with!

    • Thanks for the resources. I really need to get on the dropbox and evernote bandwagons. I only ever hear good things about them. Perhaps I need to steal these ideas too!

  3. That’s a good idea for Tumblr. I barely use it at the moment but I will implement your idea.

    • Justin, thanks for the encouragement! Using tumblr as my home away from home on the internet has been a huge help when I just need an extra bump in creativity. Let me know if you find it works, or if you have another tried and true method! I’m always up for experimenting!

  4. Why, thank you for introducing me to the wonders of Tumblr! I’ve kept coming across the name before, but never ventured to have a look until now, so think I’ll give it a shot! There’s ao many times I come across a truly imspiring quote that I’d LOVE to memorise, only for it to be lose in the aeons of cyberspace.

    That is, unless I think it so amazing to write in my moleskin!

    But, yea, cheers man 🙂 Anywhere to store inspiration gets the thumbs up from me!

    • I hope the tumblr works out for you. Hit me up on there if you end up liking it. Think of it like a moleskin you can share with strangers!

  5. Micamyx

    The exact reason why i went back to Tumblr 😀

    • When I find something that works, I really get behind it. I truly adore my tumblr. Hit me up on there if sharing is your thing! 🙂

  6. I’m just happening upon this, so think of my comment as fashionably late. 🙂

    I love the title and it’s absolutely true. I think everything is at this point stolen to some extent. Especially, on the internet. People always get on their soapbox with me because I love quotes and always use them. My response to their disdain for quotes is, “Most things have been said better than anyone else is ever going to say them, but if you can find a better way to say this I will quote you too.”

    I don’t use tumblr, but I do collect words. Words of my own, words of others, any words that I feel connect with. I kick it old school though. I write them in a notebook with a pencil. Yes, pencils do still exist.

    By the way, I’m hoping your mention of Al Gore inventing the internet was that of sarcasm. I will reserve comment until you confirm. 🙂

    I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my faves.

    “You can’t go around hoping that most people have sterling moral characters. The most you can hope for is that people will pretend that they do.” -Fran Lebowitz

    • Debra, this is a wonderful comment! And better a bit later than never at all, right? 🙂

      I appreciate folks like you who collect words. I hope you continue to share them liberally! Don’t listen to the haters. Push through that junk!

      Oh, and yes Al Gore did invent the internets… 😛

  7. […] Stealing and thievery have bad reputations. But sometimes, it’s okay to be a rip-off. Case in point: Oreos. Inspired by the Hydrox cookies, Oreos were created with a slightly different flavor, and within a few years they held the popular public image of being the original cookie, giving Hydrox the unfortunate label of an imitator. If you’re curious how they taste, you may be out of luck. Oreo was so successful it is rip-off that it caused the demise of Hydrox. And so Hydrox has been on the chopping block, and apparently is only offered in some cookies and crime ice creams. (You can however enjoy this well-developed blog post comparing the cookies.) […]

  8. […] you can save up some money, steal a bit of cash, or take out a loan to help with expenses. But you’ll want to have a small bit […]

  9. […] more ideas. There are even Flickr groups dedicated to documenting unconventional living spaces, so steal some inspiration […]

  10. Greg Halpen

    It’s NEVER ok to steal another persons work that they labored over. Never. This article is irresponsible and what’s wrong with the internet.

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