If you want to contribute something original, it may be best to stay away from those who might inspire you too much.
I was just watching this lovely little seven-minute video on Roger W. Smith over at HODINKEE:
Roger is a watchmaker, in the most traditional sense. He apprenticed under George Daniels, one of the best there ever was. And for the first few years, he made everything himself — just him, no one else. Eventually he built up a team of 8, and that’s where he is today. Even if you aren’t into watches, I bet you’ll be into Roger W. Smith after you watch the video above.
Roger’s workshop is on the Isle of Man — far away from the heart of the industry in Switzerland. In fact, he’s the only watchmaker on the Isle of Man, and one of very few in the UK.
He thinks being far away is a good thing. I love how he puts it:
“The influences just aren’t around, and I can just get on with my days work and just make what I want to make.” -Roger W. Smith
I love that notion — it’s one I’ve tried to hold dear myself. Don’t be influenced too much. Be aware of what’s great, but don’t get other people’s work too deep in your head or you’ll be doing their work, not yours.
It’s so easy to get sucked into other people’s work. Following industry news, attending every conference you can, picking brains. But I’ve often found it better to retreat into your own mind and bring something original. The more you see how other people do what they do, the harder it becomes to do things differently.
So pay attention a little, but not too much — leave more room for your own ideas than for theirs.
For more on Roger W. Smith, read the full article at HODINKEE.