I talk to quite a few people who are in the process of figuring out their identity. They want to work on it, but they don’t know how. Figuring out identity is hard work. Identity work is deep, hard work.
It’s actually quite okay to imitate in order to develop your style. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you haven’t figured out your identity – copy someone. You’ll not do it exactly like them – because you’re you. Imitate to develop and grow.
So if you’re a singer – sing like someone else – you’ll not sound like them.
Most painters copy.
Imitate others to try and look and sound like them and what you’ll find is yourself.
I’m sure there are exceptions, and if you think of one, I expect you to tell me about it in the comments.
You can imitate, but you’ll never be the first or the original. It’s okay though. I give you permission.