Episode 49 – Steal Like An Artist!

By Damien Newbie Writers Podcast Comments Off on Episode 49 – Steal Like An Artist!

Steal Like An Artist

Episode 49

In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon suggests this grid for good stealing:

Good Theft Bad Theft
Honor Degrade
Study Skim
Steal from Many Steal from One
Credit Plagiarize
Transform Imitate
Re mix Rip off

Friend of mine has some questions about copyright he’d like us to look into. Here’s what he skyped:

I would be interested in how recipes work. ie. Catherine’s potato site and listing them on the web.

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.
Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.

also another copyright thing (just not book related) is how close can you copy a 20-30 year old game, been thinking a spy hunter game in flash might be good to make a few dollars.
Copyrights run out in 14 years unless renewed, although we may need to check with a lawyer for that one.

He’s a tech nerd and is considering an Iphone app. Thinking maybe a recipe app or a game app.

The idea that we should profit from every word we utter or write down has ballooned past the ridiculous and into the sublime. Forget our own small efforts, consider the fortresses currently being built by corporate entitlement in which our every utterance is a taxable event. Should we pay a few dimes every time we ask for a coke by name?

Is there a legal fine line or even a thick black demarcation between the artistic inspiration and plagiarism that violates current copyright law?
In the age of simlies what does copy and influence mean?
Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking
From The art Instinct, Denis Dutton –
Plagiarism is hard to bring off with any public art, because sooner or later any generally available source is likely to be noticed. (This explains why most plagiarism occurs not in the area of public art but in private, largely perpetrated by students against their teachers.)
Just as Walt Disney could take inspiration from Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, jr., the brothers Grimm, or the existence of real mice, the photographer should be free to capture an image without compensating the source. Jonathan Lethem, the Ecstasy of Influence.

Artists steal everything, it’s our job, it is how we make art. In fact the only way to avoid direct plagiarism is to steal from as many sources as possible which in turn increases artistic influences which ironically results in original work. Steal from many – originality. Steal from one – plagiarism.

No other author can filter the pastiche of modern culture in quite the same way as you No one reacts to the world with the same observations. So forget protecting every damn word you write – that’s done. Consider your artistic legacy. The question should be, do I want to hoard my work so no one copies me and takes advantage of me, or do I want to live forever because of my art?

If you want your work to last – pass it along. Allow for re- interpretation, the movie from the book, the painting from the sculpture, the story from the ad jingle.
If you are lucky, the new version will kindly reflect on you and give your own work that much more of a boost. The sales for Mrs. Dalloway rose after Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. More copies of Mrs. Dalloway circulated after the movie version of the book released. Would Virginia Woolf be grateful to Cunningham? Probably. Her great friend was TS Eliot and he stole and re-printed indiscriminately in his work. Didn’t bat an eye, it was art. The Waste Land is filled with phrases from other works, but Eliot was original in the placement and the context, like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.

We don’t work in a vacuum, that very idea is patently ridiculous. We take, we re-frame, we rewrite, we re-work. And we are protected.

My advise to artists is share, hand out information, give away some of your work, if you don’t share, you won’t get noticed. And if someone steals your words, it is a small price to pay for immortality.

Word of the week


This is an utterly obsolete medical word for a perfumed powder used in medicine to be sprinkled over the body to restrain sweating, reduce inflammation or to destroy body odour.
Though it continued to appear in dictionaries until the beginning of the twentieth century, it had by then gone out of use. But then, it was never common, appearing most often as brief references in medical dictionaries and encyclopedias. This is a rare occurrence in general writing:
But even though I might be able to assuage the pains of disease I could not remove the seeds of contagion which were evidently now lodged in the ship. I knew of no empasm that could disperse the fetid odours of death which were hourly rising from the hold below.
Remarkable Escapes of a Predestinated Rogue, in The Court Magazine, Dec. 1835.
It often appeared in medical literature alongside the closely related diapasm, also a scented powder made from aromatic herbs for sprinkling over the person. A diapasm was sometimes made into little balls that were strung together round the neck. A third word of similar form is cataplasm, an old term for a poultice.
All three are from the Greek plassein, to sprinkle or shape.


“Copy from one, it’s plagiarism; copy from two, it’s research.”
Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)
Write a brief paragraph describing your influences, all artists are influenced by other art, music, book, cartoons, what were yours?

Shout outs:

My Mother.
Miranda Cain our latest blogger
Danilo Ribeiro for the nice feedback!

Bring out your Dead – or raw, uncooked poems

Life is perfect we have
sun – moon- dirt
remember to buy cookies

Not experienced enough
to write well
just that blue chair

Paddling on a calm lake
mountains crenelate the sky
Monday – not at work

When we love
the quiet
is like a prayer



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