Amateur Painters

Note to my future self…

The more I think about it the more I realize that right now I am just like an amateur painter trying to learn the basic techniques and tools to make some my art. Like a lot of other painters I’ve started by learning and imitating others. I copy their style, structure, terms and points of views with the hope that one day I can develop my own.

Right now I hold two contradictory ideas in my mind. On the one hand, I am valuing being an independent thinker more and more every day. On the other hand, I want to adopt the “best practices” of other people because I think that it will allow me to become a stronger thinker and operator.

The way I am rationalizing this right now is by prioritizing having a bias for action and starting somewhere even if that means adopting someone else’s voice. The idea is that getting started will give me the confidence and experience necessary to iterate over time until I find my own equilibrium point.

Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge that an underlying motive behind being an independent thinker is this desire to signal contrarianism, which is quite en vogue with the people that hang out with and look up to. This isn’t a flaw per se but it’s important to keep in mind.

If something works well based on some fundamental principles (as observed by yourself), then it’s ok to adopt whatever style or system can help you accomplish your goals.

To me the key, in this case, is to be able to have the level of awareness to distinguish between when you’re adopting someone else’s persona as a starting point in your own journey and when you’re blatantly copying.

Lastly, there’s this famous aphorism attributed to Picasso:

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

I think it’s a catchy line with certain truth to it but I think it’s not nuanced enough. It doesn’t acknowledge that a great artist can only become a great artist by turning the old into something new through their own process. I know this is amendment of mine is a lot less poetic but it had to be said(:

Now back to work..