Director of Strategic Brand Experience & Communication

Ironically, there’s a debate over who said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Based on my extensive research (two minutes of Googling), the smart money is on Picasso — but if you’re hung up on whose words they are, not the words themselves, you’re missing the point.

A few years ago, I started a note in my phone with my favorite rap and hip-hop verses. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll hear a line that sticks out, then I’ll pull over and type it up before I forget about it.

To be clear, I’m not a rapper. I possess neither the swag nor skills to drop a mixtape or launch into an 8 Mile-esque freestyle. But I am a writer. I’m not averse to generously borrowing from others, particularly those who master wordplay.

“Such is life, odd as Egg McMuffins at night”

I used to think of the note in my phone as a collection to revisit and admire. Like a shelf lined with jars of sand from different beaches, or an assortment of rare bourbons that will never be opened. Then, for the first time, I considered how I titled the note, “Rap Sheet,” and I realized this didn’t have to be just a collection. No, this was a list of offenses, and I was a lyrical klepto. These lines weren’t merely to be read, but repurposed, rewritten — stolen.

As Hyperquake Strategist Mike Fox put it, “We aren’t in the business of selling widgets. Clients come to us for our creativity.” On paper, we’re a studio of strategists, designers and project leaders, but our edge is our creativity, and our output is art. To believe this is far-fetched is to limit our own creativity and thus, our value to a client. So we believe it. We’re all artists. And great artists steal.

In this business, it’s a crime not to keep a Rap Sheet of your own. It could be a compilation of photographs, bookmarked articles, poems, sketches or magazine covers. This is not an invitation to plagiarize intellectual property, but a strategy to spark new thinking, sharpen your craft or create a point of reference.


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