Imagine yourself taking a walk. Your goal during this walk is two-fold. First, let your mind rest, so that there is space to make connections and come up with ideas. Second, passively take in the world around you, picking up pieces of the world around you as you go like layers of clothing.
You continue to walk, accumulating layers of experience which in turn incubate and inform the ideas that are forming in the center. Eventually you arrive at the point where your idea has been formed and is ready to emerge, like an egg ready to hatch. Now here’s the important part. The birth of your idea is not the same as a fully grown, mature idea. Just because it has arrived doesn’t mean it is ready to survive on its own. In fact, you may even be shocked at your idea and how much of an influence all those accumulated layers of influence had on it.
So there you are, an artist acting like a parent to your young idea, trying to find a way to raise it so that it may be able to stand on its own. You must keep feeding the idea so it may grow, adding fuel to it, letting it face the outside world so it can learn how to cope and defend itself, all the while scraping off the residual layers of influence so the idea can form its own skin.
For me, this odd parent/child/layered analogy makes a lot of sense. The world around us influences everything we create. This isn’t only expected, but should be encouraged. We live in this world, and we all influence one another. The trick is finding our own voice. There is no easy solution to this task. We all want to find our voice, to create something unique, and to present something to the world that can stand on its own. In many ways, being an artist is a lot like being a parent. Our work may be of us and of the world around it, but your ultimate goal is for the work to stand up on its own and be itself.