I’ve probably mentioned all of this in other articles before, but it bears repeating (partly because I’m terrible at following my own advice). You’ve probably heard it said that there are no original stories or truly original forms of art. This is true.
Not only is every creative work influenced by the many other creative works that the artist or author has seen read, listened to etc… throughout their life, there’s also the fact that everything has been done before.
Until someone invents a functioning holodeck or discovers a totally new type of emotion, then everything has been done. There are already stories out there that can elicit every emotion that you can imagine (from laughter to abject terror).
Over the history of humanity, there have been billions of stories written, billions of paintings made, billions of films made and probably millions of videogames too. Whatever art form you choose, there will be lots of people who have already done everything possible with it.
So, if you try to be totally, completely 100% original – you will fail. It is a fact.
Unless you’ve spent your entire life in a cave with no contact whatsoever with any form of human culture – you can’t produce anything completely original. Even if you somehow manage to spend your entire life in a cave, then your cave paintings may well look fairly similar to existing pre-historic cave paintings.
So, if it’s impossible to be totally original – how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you make your work unique?
Simple. You follow your strangeness.
How do you do this? There are a lot of ways:
You can add the parts of your personality that you’re afraid to express around other people to your art. You can tell stories about the kinds of characters that you, and you alone, can relate to. You can allow your own art style to develop (rather than, say, just using a widely-used style like manga art).
You can draw or paint the kinds of pictures that you think are cool (regardless of what anyone else thinks). You can tell stories and make comics that you can geek out about. You can express your own unique worldview in the things you create.
You can look at the unique and eclectic mixture of stories and/or art that you like, you can work out exactly what makes you like them so much and then you can create something which includes as much of this as possible.
There are lots of ways to add your own “strangeness” to what you create.
The fact is that we are all unique people and, to some extent or other, we all contain something which other people would consider “strange”. This is a good thing. If something is strange, then that also means that it’s new. It means it’s something that other people either haven’t seen before or don’t know much about.
If there was nothing strange in the world, then just think about what a terrifyingly dreary and robotic place the world would be. Just think about what it would be like if everything and everyone was “ordinary”. It’d probably look something like this.
So, although every type of story has been told before and anything you create will inevitably be influenced by something or other, you can make it your own by adding your own strangeness to it. Your own unique blend of interests, your unique sense of humour, your strange philosophical beliefs, your unique personality etc….
There may only be a certain number of basic stories in existence, but there are an infinite number of unique ways to tell those stories.
A bowl of fruit may look like a bowl of fruit, but if you got two artists to paint it – then both paintings would probably look different in some way or another, even though they’re painting the same thing.
So, don’t worry about being original. Just make sure to put enough of your own “strangeness” in whatever you create and you’ll stand out from the crowd (or, at the very least, attract a like-minded fanbase).
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂