Three or four years ago, I stumbled across an image which read “If you see anything interesting please let someone know immediately!” and it has stuck with me ever since.
At first glance, it almost appears to be a spin on the sort of posters you’d see in an airport or subway which urge you to report any suspicious activity. However, in this case, the sense of urgency is accompanied by enthusiasm rather than hostility. This image, these words, and this idea of immediately sharing some interesting thing you found has stuck with me over the years because I think we’re more prone to do the opposite—to hoard our treasures and be secretive of our resources, inspiration, and interests.
On the internet, we’re overly encouraged to conform to a mindset of curation which often times leads to a false romanticization of creativity. Albert Einstein is often misattributed to saying, “the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources,”1 which I fear is too often regarded as truth. I disagree with this idea because it suggests that creating the false perception of originality is the same as actual originality. Furthermore, it belittles the work which actively cites its sources while praising the work which veils itself under the guise of “creativity” or “originality” because they fail/refuse to do the same.
That quote is suggested to have potentially derived from C. E. M. Joad’s 1926 publication “The Babbitt Warren” where he wrote “Whereas in Europe the height of originality is genius, in America the height of originality is skill in concealing origins. In no country is personality valued as it is in America, and in no country is it so rare.”2 It’s interesting to note that the additional context of this quote’s origin greatly changes its meaning. Previously, without context, the quote was projected as a truism, while its context reveals that it is more so a jab at the concept itself.
While I believe—to an extent—that there’s nothing new under the sun, I also believe “if you’re too afraid to share your sources of inspiration perhaps you’re too influenced by them.” That quote comes from one of my early articles, “Inspiration Or Influence?” where I wrote about why you should publicly share your resources, inspiration, and so on. I still strongly believe in this concept which ties all of this back to the first image. If you see anything interesting please let someone know immediately!
On that note, here are some interesting things:
- mttymtt-index.tumblr.com – This is where I share all of the things I find! Complete with source links which reference back to—as you may guess—the source!
- Font Review Journal — Bethany Heck just launched FRJ today which I’m super excited about. Not only is Bethany’s typographic work incredible, but her enthusiasm and appreciation towards type feels unmatched. FRJ bridges the gap between the overlooked and sometimes undocumented nuances of type design and the graphic designer’s typographic practice.
- tuttoLAMETTE — This collection of vintage Italian razor blade packaging is nothing short of incredible. Spend a few hours (or days) digging through these. I’ve had this tab opened in my browser for at least a week now.
- Thinking ’bout you — I made this little graphic for a collaborative Spotify playlist I share with my friend back in Savannah. We have very similar taste in music, so anytime one of us hears a song that reminds us of the other or simply thinks the other will enjoy, we add it to the playlist. I love the idea of collaborative playlists and sharing music, and I thought this concept tied in well with this weeks article. Maybe you should start a playlist with your friend!
Because I don’t think it’s been iterated enough in this article: If you see anything interesting please let someone know immediately!