Hip Hop, African and Asian Culture, Sci Fi and Comics have helped to weave the fabric of my creative life, so they are all INFLUENCES. I uses as much Octavia Butler as I do Rakim to spark those creative flames and help me to codify my own voice. The key, however, is to use inspiration to point you in a direction not as the destination in and of itself.
I tend to look at my influences like a stew, with each ingredient adding a new and welcome flavor to the whole. The stew has to be added to the main ingredient which is THE STORY, and properly seasoned with dialog and character to create something truly magical. This process cannot be CANNED, FAKED OR APED. Like cooking, this process is very ORGANIC.
At Imaginos Workshop, I often challenge the guys I work with to look just a bit beyond what they think they know. I like for the guys to stretch and take risks to see what they can come up with. Often as creators, the financial considerations often dictate how far we step outside our comfort zone. Big business often equates the reason a piece of work being financially successful with ancillary considerations such as big name stars and special effects and similarity to other successful projects. However, I like for us at Imaginos to try to dig and find out what Kernel of the basic idea of something was its genesis or spark. If you can find that in other things then you can find it in your own work and build on it.
So I challenge you guys to find your inspiration and use it to spearhead your creative process. Don't use it as a dogmatic map, use the essence of the things that inspire you as more of a guide posts to give you an idea of the general direction you want to go in.
Go forth and Create!!!