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If you spend a lot of your time around artists and musicians, you’ve probably heard this more than once:

“Nothing is original. Everything has been done before.”

If someone makes this statement in a group of people, one of two things will happen:

  1. Everyone agrees and gets a sheepish look on their face as if to say, “Yeah. I guess we suck.”
  2. Frustrated with the idea of their aspirations hanging in the balance, someone references a specific work or artist as a counterargument. The two people then volley back and forth ad infinitum.¬†Or worse, someone defers to the age old bore-fest “…but what is art, really?” Usually in these cases I just keep my mouth shut. If I’m feeling playful, I’ll chime in with something about collage art and sampling or ask for opinions on how tools affect originality.

But the answer is simple:

Yes, everything has been done. But not everything has been done well.

Now go create.

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3 Responses to “The Answer to “Everything’s Been Done.””

  1. ad says:

    haha we have had this discussion in many studio sessions. “No chord progression is original..blah blah”. Art and culture are always a rehash of some old form. Even the original, draw from somewhere and perhaps that somewhere happens to be a place everyone else took no notice of.

    Now back to working on that totally new chord progression……hmm

  2. simon says:

    This whole discussion is based on a retrospective look on art and life in general. This view compares the seeming logical historical progression of one period and it’s styles to the next and out of this expects the new. But when the new isn’t experienced as such (because it WAS new in retrospect), there is the feeling of terminality, this is it, nothing more, everything at once and nothing really.

    If we ditch our retrospective view towards time and just do, there might be stuff going on that retrospective people can use to ‘write history’, but as a creator, that isn’t help full at all. As a creator you just need to absorb and transform impressions and share the result to the world so other people can absorb and transform.

    just my pov.

  3. John says:

    When I hear that it’s-all-been-done statement, it’s either can’t-win-don’t-try defeatism or a precursory justification for “Let’s just borrow that riff/beat/lyric and get it over with.”

    Both are simply laziness IMHO.


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