Let's have a think about references and I will tell you why you scroll down pinterest when an idea itches your head and you can't truly nail it.
We usually have amazing ideas in our heads that we need to communicate to our peers, our clients.
We need to craft a vision about something that is in our heads, and because designers are designers because most of them can't really draw as good as they want to, we need different visual tools to express ideas.
Have you ever roamed the vast internet realm with a half-formed idea, feeling that it makes perfect sense in your mind, yet you lack the words or images to convey it effectively?
You want to create something new but all you see is recycled content. The images you see on the internet are processed versions of some old cohort of references that were trendy 6 months ago and a 3D designer just regurgitated 15 days ago on an NFT platform.
Even Midjourney, after some time of heavy use, starts to spit out similar shapes/textures over and over.
Now, what I really wanted to say with this blog post is - that usually - we scavenge the internet looking for that perfect reference that matches with that idea in our head for a very unique reason: we are looking for a reality check.
If the idea we have is great, it's already been done before, and it already exists in some shape or another.
It's a bit of a sanity check - having competition on something (in this case, an idea) means that you are not crazy, that it works.
That is why it's so easy to cross-polinate for insta originality... 80s vibe meets lo fi beats, superheroes but its a neo-noir, shark meets tornado.
We scroll the internet, look at design and art books to make sure that our idea works, that there are pieces of it distributed in the zeitguised that we can put the pieces together into something that already resonates with the world. After all radically new things, usually need some time to get to the public imaginarium.
Then it relies on your creative capacity to put those things together and generate something original out of that. All art is recycled ideas from the past, we just live this eternal cultural collage that only moves forward.
The select few who bring forth novelty in this world are the true artists, serving as conduits for the art itself. What they receive is merely a whisper from the muses. The rest of us find ourselves tethered to the real world, attempting to make sense of it all.