Every person has a unique viewpoint that has been created by their life experiences. As much as you may admire another artist’s work, you can never have the same life experiences that caused them to be the artist they are. Bring your singular viewpoint to your work and make an original statement. Don’t repeat what’s already been done.
Excellent advice from Mark Kennedy’s latest Kick in the Head.
I’ve always found imitation to be an excellent crutch when you’re starting out. When I first began playing guitar I always wanted to play just like my favorite musician. I would listen to their music for hours, trying to figure out the exact notes they were playing. Now that I’ve been playing for 16 years, I’m pretty comfortable in how I play and I’m not that interested in sounding like anybody else. Not that others aren’t far better than me or that I should stop trying to improve–but I’m more confident in where I want to go and where I don’t need to go. I believe the same thing applies to all forms of art.