How much do we influence each? When does influence become copying?
These are all questions that all artists have to answer for themselves. If we are honest, we can all say, that at certain times we have copied others work. Nobody wants to admit this-it is so much better to be totally original. But can we all be exceptionally unique?
I know that when people have remarked that my artwork reminds them of someone else’s that it doesn’t feel very good. For one thing, the art they are invariably comparing mine to is usually better and more sophisticated. You can never ever be more original than the original. It does sting a little. The total opposite of creating something authentic, something personal is, rather sadly, creating something totally derivative.
I understand the need to do this. I know because I have done it. You get so tired of not knowing where the hell your going, not being clear that you are on any kind of a road that is eventually going to lead someplace worthwhile, that you just need a pause, a rest perhaps, to float along buoyed by the efforts of someone else for awhile. It always seems easier to see somebody else’s path rather than our own. The reason, (and I would say the argument) for not co -opting someone else’s journey, is BECAUSE we don’t actually know where we are going. It is not supposed to be clear as we haven’t gotten far enough along to even realize it as our own and that is why it is so engaging and worthwhile.
If you are paying attention to your work, you will eventually create a path that is wholly you own. Your work is a reflection of you and you are totally unique and one of a kind. You are, by the very definition of what it means to be a human being, already original. We all are.
Your not supposed to know where you are going. We think we want to know. We think we just need a few sales to make us feel hopeful. We think we need to be making likeable work at any cost, but in the end, the cul de sac that one finds themselves in when they start copying someone else is just simply that—a dead end. In the beginning it feels easier but it actually is detrimental to the development of the artist because growth has stopped and invariably the far more serious state of boredom begins to creep in. It just simply is not interesting to do someone else’s art.
The Poet, philosopher, David Whyte perfectly articulates this line of thinking…. “If we can see the path ahead laid out for us, there is a good chance it is not our path; it is probably someone else’s we have substituted for our own.”
We need to remind each other that none of us should stay very long in these stagnant somewhat embarrassing places for very long. Somebody needs to give us a swift kick in the pants and send us back out there, back out into the realm of passion, individuality and true authenticity.