Thank you, Casey Neistat for many reasons, but mostly: A. because you're so f*cking smart and cool and kind, and your daily vlog is a creative challenge we should all take note of and B. for being a person who can articulate critical but necessary thoughts on copycatting (this video), which is something I've encountered lately. Within the past couple of weeks, actually. You know, over on the not so fun flipside of blogging/being a designer who shares work online... it's sort of an unavoidable evil. That doesn't make it okay, and he describes why perfectly. Hopefully this is a helpful touchstone for anyone dealing with a similar experience:
I believe in inspiration… I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about wholesale theft. The thing about being original, about original ideas, is that it’s about looking internally at what motivates me and finding ideas there. The thing about theft is that you cheat. You just look at what someone else is doing and say, “I’ll just do what he’s doing and I’ll pretend that was my own idea.” The really tough part about that is how hard, how much work it takes to be original, how much brain power, how much consideration it takes to make sure you're coming up with ideas that are truly your own, just to have them ripped off, just to have them stolen... And it’s painful. You can copy the mechanics, you can copy a style, you can copy an aesthetic, but rip-off artists can never emulate the heart—the heart behind telling a great story, the soul behind something that actually moves or that actually affects people in an emotional way. So there’s that. Copycats, rip-off artists keep original people on their toes, cause what it means is if you want to stay original, you need to stay way, way ahead of the curve. You’ve gotta stay so far out there that the rip-off artists are just chasing you down, and they will never actually catch up... I don't say this to discourage anyone from creating anything, I just would just always check yourself. Ask yourself: are you copying someone, or are you thinking for yourself? And if it's not the latter, maybe rethink your process. A good rule of thumb is this: if you're constantly being told that your work is a copy of someone else's, you're doing it wrong. And if you're constantly being told that your work is being ripped off by someone else, you're probably doing it right.
Readers, you should probably subscribe to his channel and join me in the genius black hole that is his life/work (especially if you love NYC as much as I do.)