As creators we are surrounded by work that influences how we perceive our own: admired work of respected peers, work aligned with current trends, or simply well-executed instances of well-worn patterns. But the work around us has gravity, and it pulls us towards similar solutions, and clouds our ability to assess our work on the basis of its own merit.
Creators don’t set out to emulate, but they can drift towards familiar and recognizable options in the vast sea of possibility. The familiar is comforting. When we successfully emulate aspects of work around us, however inadvertently, our minds fool us into thinking we’ve created something good, when in fact we’ve simply created something familiar. It feels correct. We’re lulled into accepting the recognizable.
But this is when we should push further.
It’s a lonely and scary place to be, creating something new. There’s nothing with which to compare the work – no shelter of the familiar. But this untethered feeling precedes breakthrough. New work by definition won’t be familiar. It demands a leap of faith. No great work came from someone playing it safe.