Sick and tired of hearing from fellow creatives that they must avoid creative media in order not to be influenced. We are ALL influenced by *something*.
Vincent Van Gogh collected over 400 Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) and even copied some of its elements into his work.
Art can't happen in a vacuum. It's just not possible. Even those not formally art-trained and may live in the most isolated insular and homogenous community will still create art that shows influence from many elements.
Take for instance the profound artwork of an incredibly talented individual I saw on a Facebook art group page: his work reminded me of early protest art of 70s vinyl record covers. I pointed this out and he said explained he lived out in the bayous, hadn't gone to art school, and never received any formal training, but he immediately got what I meant of what his work reminded me.
Something inspired him. *Influenced* him to create the way he did and how he did. Though he was in a sense of the modern idea that he was isolated, he was still influenced and inspired by what was around him. By his environment, his experiences, his life. And it became something that reminded me, a total stranger, of something else entirely. Yet, he GOT what I meant.
I'm not saying we are being hacks. What I'm saying is it's okay to acknowledge and not feel ashamed to own up to one's influences. And even if one doesn't know what the influences are, do know that they are still there.
Whenever I create something: whether an illustration, a scribble, a cartoon, comic strip, short story, word list, essay, or this blog post, I like to play a game to try and recognize what inspired me or influenced that particular piece. I'm not saying to do this. I'm just weird.
It is essential to know that while there's "nothing new under the sun", what makes an art 'original' is how it's filtered and distilled by its bearer, its creator. Because we are all different, because each one of us is unique, and because we are all affected by outside and inner forces, the art will be singular, authentic, and genuine.