The Power of Influence: How One’s Creativity Can Influence Others

We always talk about inspiring and influencing through creativity and creative works, but although it’s something we know instinctively, it always pays to have some great, concrete examples of how creative works have influenced others. It pays to acknowledge the fact that, of course, being influenced is inevitable. Once, one of my professors overheard a creative writing student claiming that they’re adamantly avoiding reading anything because it will affect their writing. My professor scoffed at this, and I would have, too. Attempting to deny others’ influence – so long as it’s good influence, the kind that makes you productive – may very well equate to denying your own work any relevance in any genre, in any aspect of life. It denies acknowledging your own roots – how you’ve come to fall in love with art and creativity, in the first place, or how you’ve come to think and act in certain ways. Influence is important, in other words, and it pays to always know what your influences are, for your own work to spring from them.

In this post, I’ll run through a few works and articles in which famous writers and artists acknowledge how existing works have already influenced them, whether the influence is on a specific work or on their entire creative oeuvre.

The Ecstacy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

  • Speculative fiction writer Jonathan Lethem released this collection of essays that, as the title suggests, largely discusses what has influenced him in various points in his life. Lethem talks about his relationship with the works of various writers and artists, from Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard, to Marvel works. It’s an interesting collection because you’ll be able to see how Lethem reacts to the figures that have shaped his life and form his interests – even as he speaks in his own voice and talks about his personal experiences.
  • Dwight Garner wrote about Lethem’s book in the New York Times. Read it here.

Turning Point: 1997-2008 by Hayao Miyazaki

  • Turning Point: 1997-2008 is a collection of essays, notes, interviews, poems, and illustrations by – or conducted with – Hayao Miyazaki, the ever-famous director of such films as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, and is just about synonymous with the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli*. This is just a half of the series of books revolving around such a collection of material from Miyazaki, but 1997-1998 talks primarily about three of his most famous films – Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. You’ll read in the notes and interviews about Miyazaki’s influences – and it’s not the kind of influence on which Miyazaki was compelled to build on, if that makes sense. Miyazaki shows that influence is not always following a certain tradition or style set by certain artists. He talks about Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which he saw was a misrepresentation of certain aspects of Japanese history. He in turn attempted to amend this in Princess Mononoke. He talks about how Osamu Tezuka has influenced him – but only through certain works, and not Astro Boy. It’s an interesting read, certainly, as Miyazaki gives a lot of great insight on his work, and on what foundations he built them on.

A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

  • Manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s  A Drifting Life is one huge book. Using manga as the medium to deliver his memoir, Tatsumi shows what the sights and sounds of his childhood were, what kind of world he was growing up in, and the effects of it all on his work. He was, like Miyazaki, inspired by Osamu Tezuka – but his was a glowing, wide-eyed, absolute admiration towards the Astro Boy creator, whom he managed to meet during his childhood. The book shows not just Tatsumi’s admiration for Tezuka, but also the other factors that influenced his manga style – films (the techniques used in which he incorporated in his work), existing four-panel manga (which he tried to distance himself from when he wanted to innovate), and the people around him. It just goes to show that influence isn’t just from one writer, or from something absolutely positive – influence goes in bits and pieces. How to craft everything was left to Tatsumi himself.

These are just a few works that show how others have managed to influence artists and their creative works. I repeat – it pays to acknowledge others’ influence. If you don’t particularly like how you’re being influenced, attempt to subvert it, or try to make something new out of it. If you like how the influence has come across to you, then by all means work with it. Creative works and creativity pulse with life — not just yours, but also others who have come before you, and who have lived and done their work before you. Consume a lot of material, and use them to your advantage. Let influence make you grow. The good work will certainly follow.

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People in Your Life Who Influence Your Creativity

No man is an island. This does not only apply to the need for interaction among people for socializing purposes. Being around others affects how we behave, how we make decisions, and even the ideas that our minds bring forth. Every single person is a domino piece. We are able to touch a person the same way we have been touched by another. It doesn’t matter what your outlet for creativity is, when you hang out with certain people, it is possible to point out which one of them has had something to do with your creations.

 

There is no such thing as bad inspiration in the aspect of creativity. Whether a person is a good influence or otherwise, as long as the time you spend together causes you to become more creative, that person is a good enough inspiration.

 

Here are some of the people in your life who influence your creativity, and the ways that they affect your attitude towards creating.

 

  1. Your mother – She is your first art teacher. She taught you about the many beautiful things in this world, and that there are countless ways of how you can utilize these things, especially those that are free. She is the first to appreciate your talents and will always be your number one fan. When you do your work and have her in mind, you tend to become a little cautious whether what you do or part of it would go against the values she has taught you and hurt her feelings. She makes you create things that are rather conservative.

 

  1. Your father – He is your hero. He has shown you that there is nothing to be afraid of. It doesn’t even matter to him whether the work you’ve done is polished to perfection or not. As long as you keep creating stuff, he will be proud of you. Having close ties with your dad makes you fearless. You will see this in your work when you try new things and not mind about what others will think about it. You will have no fear for criticism because your dad is your number one critic. He may tell you at times that your work is sloppy, but he will reassure you that the next one will be better.

 

  1. Your sister – She is your confidante. She knows your deepest darkest secrets. She can be brutally honest about her thoughts on your work, but that’s only because she does not want you to be put to shame when others see it. Unlike mom or dad, who may sugar-coat their opinion, she will tell you if your piece sucks and tell you to change it right away. Sure, she can be bossy, but that’s only because she genuinely wants you to shine. You trust your sister so even when you’ve already decided you’re going one way with a project, you will be open about the idea and make alterations or go an entirely different direction.

 

  1. Your brother – He is your partner in crime. He may not know anything about what you are doing, but you have his full support. He is even willing to lend a hand if you ask him to. The thing about your brothers is, he can make fun of your work but deep down he practically worships you and may even be thinking about letting you do his project in exchange for something you’ve always wanted. He is the master of trade. His main contribution to your creativity is that nudge that answers the question, “what’s in it for me?”

 

  1. Your bestfriend – He or she is your healthy competition. You and your pal hang out with each other for a reason. You like the same things. You want to create the same things. Not all bestfriends may be totally honest with their judgment on each other’s work for fear of not getting the same compliment(or insult). You secretly want to outdo your bestfriend, which is why you end up going out of your way to come up with the most creative concept. But that’s not at all a bad thing. When either of you get recognition for a job well done, you’ll both be thankful to have had a friendly rivalry. And you will celebrate with each other anyway.

 

  1. Your lover – A person who is in love can be one of the most creative individuals. If your partner truly is your better half, then with him or her, you are whole. There are no constraints to what you can do nor limits to how long you can keep going. Your lover will make you a better artist because you are creating things with a satisfied heart. Your work will often mirror your current dating status because it has romantic essences all over it.

 

  1. Your grandparents – They are your windows to the past. You have an appreciation for creative pieces in history because they show you how life in the old times are just as beautiful as our world today. Your grandparents will tell you about how magnificent your work is, but will never fail to remind you that simplicity is always best. Because of this, your work will bear a marque of classic elements. You will be able to create a piece that can withstand the test time.

 

Art is a product of the mind and the heart. The people we think about and have feelings for have so much impact on our creativity. The more we are aware of what kind of inspiration they can give us and acknowledge it, the more driven we become.

 

If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain, do you also believe that television shows are made inside your television set?” – Warren Ellis

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