...I strongly believe you should start out with a great influence, learn from them, mimic them if you have to, its all healthy for the creative learning process. But at some point, once you start getting paid for your work and considered a professional in a certain field, you have to realize that it’s sort of lazy to mimic another artist’s style for your own profit. It’s insulting to the artist you consider a hero or inspiration, and also insulting to yourself as a creative individual in a sense. We ALL have done this, myself guilty, but you have to know where to draw the line for yourself. If clients wanted, say a … Travis [Charest], or Joe Mad, or Adam Hughes, those guys are still alive, they can hire them.
-- Dustin Nguyen, on the development of artistic style.
Every artist I've ever talked to about influences -- and this includes writers, too -- has shared this same story of mimicking someone else's style until developing his or her own. As Nguyen says, the trick is knowing when to get out and be your own thing.