The Myth of the Original
OR… get over yourself and be happy that someone’s stealing your good ideas and not the bad ones.
I’ve pretty much already now said all I wanted to say… but as that makes for a pretty boring post… here goes…
In the creative industries it is not uncommon to hear the cry “[insert entity here] stole my idea”. Well, if it’s a goodun’, then I’d say they’re pretty smart. In the architectural or urban design professions, if this idea is going to lead to a better city, a better building, a better space or landscape, then great. Far better that [entities] are ripping off the good ideas for the betterment of our built environment than a bad one! Frankly, no one has a mortgage on good ideas. If you’re any good, for every idea you’ve had “stolen” you should be able to come up with another 5 to 10 or more. Ultimately if you’re out there utilising, publishing, giving life to your good idea, then most will recognise you as it’s author, if you’re not, then stop wasting or hogging it, you’re no better than a patent troll.
I won’t entirely dob them in, but when one juror for the NSW architecture awards was inspecting the Yagoona Apartments we designed, she/he suggested they’d be keen to copy our planning concept. This architect openly discusses and expresses their influences in her/his work. Whether or not their penchant to “steal” from others can be directly attributed to their architectural ability, they’re certainly one of the finest architects in Sydney. I digress slightly… back to Redshift’s extraordinary planning skills. Bottom line, we were happy that someone would think highly enough of our work that it worthy of being “stolen”. To be entirely honest, I’d be surprised if ours was an original idea and that it hadn’t manifested in some way shape or form in other apartment buildings. We didn’t knowingly steal this idea, but if it’s a good idea, others are bound to think of it too.
Similarly, people sometimes ask me if we’re afraid of being “ripped off” by publishing our drawings on our website – in the interests of a good built environment… steal away I say, let’s make the architecture in Sydney as good as it can possibly be! Please, however, be discerning thieves, we only want the good ideas stolen, not the bad. If people “rip off” our bad ideas, I’m upset, but not if they “steal” our goodun’s.
There’s an oft-repeated aphorism
“Good artists copy; great artists steal”
variously attributed (& in various forms) to Picasso, Stravinsky, TS Elliot and a cavalcade of other artists. I’ll leave that with you to ponder further on.