Kate's Column: Originality is Overrated
Not a Saturated Industry: Authenticity Over Originality
This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, as I feel it’s important for creatives to understand that not everything they do needs to be completely original. In fact, almost nothing we do can be original, as we had to be influenced by something in order to come up with our ideas in the first place.
People love to talk about how the fashion and beauty industry is unconditionally saturated, but I strongly believe there is a place for everyone – and that authenticity should be celebrated over originality, as they are two different entities. Instead of trying to say something completely new, we should aim to say something in our own way. We should take what speaks to us, and make that a pillar for what we base our creativity on.
If you think about it, is anything truly original? I remember having this conversation in college after reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and comparing it to She’s the Man (I majored in Theater, so I took a lot of literature classes). Essentially, they have the same plot – one is just a more modernized version of the other. Instead of seeking to be original, She’s the Man garnered influence from Twelfth Night and authentically portrayed the same characters and themes.
Similarly, in the digital age we live in it’s easy to get caught up trying to think of something utterly new, to the point where it can drive us crazy (trust me, I’ve been there). But, I can assure you that authenticity and creative concepts do not derive from originality; they come from emulating notions that already exist. To make them authentic, you’ve got to apply your own experience and unique perspective to them.
If we shift our focus from “I need to create something new” to “why does this speak to me”, I think there are infinite possibilities of what we can conceptualize and create. For someone who works in fashion and beauty, I have been influenced by so many designers, stylists, movie stars, and fashion icons, that it feels almost impossible to create any sort of new style. But when I combine my influences into something that feels uniquely and authentically me, that’s when I feel like I’m doing my best work. That’s when my creativity soars.
One of my favorite quotes about this idea of originality being overrated is from Mark Twain, who said: “There’s no such thing as a new idea. It’s impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations… But, they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
So, next time you are trying to think of an original idea, think instead of what ideas you’ve been influenced by, speak about them in your own words, and create your own colorful kaleidoscope. And never, ever be afraid to be completely you.