The number 1 rule of learning graphic design? Copy.

I recently read ‘Steal Like An Artist,’ by Austin Kleon and I wanted to share the most important lesson the book teaches which I think is highly relevant for young graphic designers. Austin Kleon explains this succinctly with clear examples, and I would 100% recommend buying this excellent book, but I’ll paraphrase what he wrote in this section:

Nothing is original. Everything that is created now has been influenced by what has come before so anyone who claims what they have made is truly original is deluded.

David Bowie once said that ‘The only art I’ll ever study is stuff I can steal from.’ The point here is we should embrace influence.

You are likely to have many influencers that influence you, so collect these ideas – take notes on them, study them and copy the styles that you like. By doing this, you will have a reference bank of ideas that will lead to more ideas and induce creativity.

‘Plagiarism is about trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse engineering.’ Austin Kleon.

Why copy from your heroes? Because when you have a variety of influences and you mash them together, your final work will truly be your own.

Who to copy is easy but finding out what to copy is more complex. To find out this answer and plenty more valuable advice, buy Austin Kleon’s book here!

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