The root of the word "original" is origin. We are the origin of our work.
It is the ego’s demand that our work be totally original-— as if such a thing were possible. All work is influenced by other work. All people are influenced by other people. No man is an island and no piece of art is a continent unto itself.
When we respond to art we are responding to its resonance in terms of our own experience. We seldom see anew in the sense of finding something utterly unfamiliar. Instead, we see an old in a new light.
If the demand to be original still troubles you, remember this: each of us is our own country, an interesting place to visit. It is the accurate mapping out of our own creative interests that invites the term original. We are the origin of our art, its home-land. Viewed this way, originality is the process of remaining true to ourselves.
From The Artist's Way