Our culture puts a lot of emphasis over the virtue of 'originality'. In the modern art world, many people think a piece is good if it is 'original,' or at least that it cannot be good if it is unoriginal. Here is my criticism of originality.
1) Originality is a red herring.
This criticism is the most obvious personally, but just because something is original doesn't mean it's any good. By highlighting only the originality of a work, we have lost our ability to critique and analyze a piece of art based on its merit, skill, and contextual history.
2) Originality is a lie.
If you think of an idea and you think it is 'original,' chances are, you have deceived yourself. The creation of ideas is about the combination of other ideas and other 'stuff' in new ways. The way you combine things can be original, but a thing itself cannot be completely original. Many mythological creatures are combinations of real life things (i.e. unicorns or centaurs). Their origins in other created things does not make them any less magical or mystifying. Most of the time, if you can't track down the sources of your idea down to two simple things (horse and human makes centaur), that doesn't mean you were not influenced by other people and other things, merely that your idea is such a convoluted combination and soup of piles of observations you have made for years upon years that you can no longer hold it down to a particular source.
3) Originality ignores a basic fact of life.
Humans were made to live in community and to build on each others' ideas. The fact that we have language allows us to do this very thing. Artists and creators seldom are purely individualistic. The sound of the Late Beatles changed significantly after they met with and heard the music of Bob Dylan. Writers have their guilds and impressionists their Salon des Refusés. The fact is that not only do we use each other for our creativity, we need each other for our creativity. Even Shakespeare has his most famous works rooted in previously written tales or historical events, and sampling in hip-hop music is used not to copy, but to appreciate. Overall, creation is a community activity and we all have some part in it.
I think the key here is to just create. We learn by doing. Don't worry about being original, just be amazing.
This blog post doesn't claim originality in the least. This was influenced by a "Theology and Arts" class I audited with Fuller Theological Seminary, the works of Makoto Fujimura, and a bunch of videos from the extensive works of John and Hank Green.