As a young photographer and as an even younger graphic designer, I always would start learning new things and expand my horizon of technical ability by copying other people’s work.
I still will steal other people’s work, or rather, attempt the steal it by directly referencing and trying to copy it.
With all respect toward the artists who created the works, I always think I can do what they’ve done or better. Even if better is as simple as adding my voice to the piece.
Also, when you’re fresh-faced and learning, you can’t create much artwork with soul or voice. By copying other people’s work, you create art with a soul and voice, even if it’s not your soul and voice.
As you progress, your voice will become pronounced and some other young artist will steal your ideas and use them like the lifeblood they are to him.
Infusing your soul into a great idea is what stealing artwork is all about. Not some cheap plastic ripoff. Good artists copy, but great artists steal.