7 Ways to Borrow Creative Ideas with a Clear Conscience

7 Ways to Borrow Creative Ideas with a Clear ConscienceIs it really okay to borrow creative ideas?

I talk and write often about borrowing ideas as a source for creative instigation. One CreativeBloc question wondered about this strategy, saying borrowing a creative idea doesn’t feel like creativity and doing it can weigh on one’s conscience. The attendee asked for some clarification.

First of all, it’s not as if I advocated stealing ideas (although I have advocated it in other settings)!

When I talk about borrowing creative ideas, it means consuming and reflecting on other inputs you can use to instigate new creative possibilities which are clearly your own.

Seven Ways to Borrow Creative Ideas with a Clear Conscience:

  1. Take a piece of an idea and build from it (i.e., pick a color from a famous work of art and use it as inspiration)
  2. Generalize an idea and then apply the broader idea in new situations
  3. Look at the creative inspiration from a different perspective
  4. Determine an idea’s underlying structure and apply new creativity to a comparable structure
  5. Shift the creativity in some way (i.e., looking at what the creative state was immediately before or after an idea is present)
  6. Pay tribute to an idea, using it as instigation for new creativity
  7. Take individual pieces of creativity and assemble them in new ways others haven’t before (i.e., Groundhog Day + Silver Streak = Source Code)

In each one of these creative instances, you’re looking for creative instigation – not for copyright infringement – as you borrow creative ideas you can form into your own new creative works.

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Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.

Mike Brown




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