My daughter Caitlin is doing a project for school. She is creating characters to illustrate the "E" number she is studying in AP Calculus. She already wrote a fairy tale with witty math wordplay, "The Princess and the E." Right now she is drawing the characters. It's going to be a picture book she can show and read to her class of 30.
"I have always loved the art of William Steig and Quentin Blake, why can't I draw like them?" she moans. "Or Dr. Seuss, he was such an original!" More sighing. "Why did I wait so long, this is due in the MORNING!"
She's an art major at her visual/performing arts high school, so yes, she can draw.
I tell her to grab one of our many picture books illustrated by Blake. She grabs Dahl's The Twits.
"Copy his style as exactly as you can. Don't worry about plagiarizing, copy away, no matter what, it will turn into what you do more than what he does. Quit trying to be original, waste of time. You'll get there faster by cheating."
She is drawing reckless princes and cavorting witches.
"They aren't interesting enough," she says squinting.
"Give them silly hats, can't have enough hats."
I just looked over her shoulder. The drawings are fresh and fun and look nothing like Quentin Blake.
"You can't pass these off as Blakes," I mention.
"No, I realized it was easier to draw it my way. Thanks for getting me to see that."
I freely share this sage advice with the rest of you.