"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Émile Zola
Everywhere you look these days - signs are being posted, buttons are being pushed and defenses are up. "Copycatitis" seems to be rampant in Bloglandia and everyone is feeling the pinch. There is more energy flying around on the concentration of defying this phenomenon that there is in actual creativity. One more negative. One more second guess. As artists we are always fighting a negative, somewhere. We self-doubt, worry about criticism, rejections, and yet we go on. It is how we live, grow and flourish - but it is also what slowly kills the creative Muse. Why on earth are we doing this to each other? Adding to the negative forces. An artist that has to spend time worrying about who is going to "steal" an idea is not fully allowing the creative forces to live freely within them.
Since we know "copycatitis" is and more than half of us have been victims of it - let us - as a group - that is. as artists - turn this negative around. Whether you have been an artist for 5 years or 5 decades - we need to respect each other and our own voices.
It is your own creative voice that rings through your creation, which makes the creation yours and yours alone. Your signature. Your baby. Your finished work and the emotions you put into it are your voice. All you need to do is believe in your voice, and it will carry you. Own your talent. Yes, it takes work. It takes practice. It takes time. Buying and copying someone's work will not better you as an artist. Time will make you a better artist. Confidence will make you a better artist. believing in yourself will make you a better artist! Any artist that has done this for 5 or more years will tell you - it does not happen overnight. Becoming an artist to make money is - laughable. An artist creates because we know no other way to breath, not because we can make a fortune on Ebay. There is a reason why, when discussing art and artists there are phrases such as "starving artist" and "paying your dues".
It is impossible to look and not be inspired by another's work. But instead of trying to copy it, line for line, brush stroke for brush stroke, mold by mold; try something different:
- Study it.
- Write about it.
- Dissect it.
- Manipulate it and expand upon it.
- Ask what makes it speak to you.
- Ask what you'd done differently.
- Ask if it invokes a feeling that resonates in you. Harness that feeling and use THAT to create your next piece.
- Conjure in your mind "what ifs" - What if I used a different medium, color or subject.
Push the boundaries of your own creative mind, using what has inspired you as a platform.
If you are an artist that feels that you are being subjected to "copycatitis" - simple steps can help protect you, but in this electronic age, you have to be prepared to take the risks of putting your work out there.
- Place copyright information on your blog, website, etc. This pertains to blatant copying of text - letter by letter -, photographs and exact duplications of work.
- Take the time to do web link searches of your images and work. If you find it somewhere, remind the poster that they are your images/words and respectfully ask them to remove the post. They may be innocently paying homage to someone they think is wonderful. If they do not remove it after your request, then take further action.
We are all territorial over our work. Frankly it is something we have to work on. We have to remember that the basis of an idea is not an identity. Everyone has the idea of gluing something somewhere, painting this and sculpting that. Let's face it; there is NOT an infinite amount of things to work with, so there will be others with your idea, somewhere in time - and your idea is someone else's. What you do with your idea is what makes it yours. The heart that you put into it and how it speaks your voice when its completed. That's your gift. Own it!