Happy New Year everyone, hopefully you all had a great time over the break and are ready to get stuck into the year ahead.
Back in November I did a post on Finding What Inspires You, I talked about many different ways to find inspiration, and one of the ways that artists are taught to find it is to look at the work of others. We try to get inspired from what others are doing and see if we can put some of that into our own work.
When I was at art school we were encouraged to copy the work of others and try to do exactly what they did, so we could learn. I did some of that, though much of what I did never came off as well as the masters. It was a great way to learn. One lecturer used to say it to us all the time, copy, copy, copy, but only as a learning tool. Never pass off the copies as your own original work, as that would be breach of many copyright laws.
I tried to copy a Brooke Shaden image, see below, hers on the left and mine on the right.
What happens when you simply copy the technique of someone you admire?
In theory technique can’t be copyrighted, so you can copy anyone’s technique, but does that mean you should? I know myself that I have been asked many times on my blog how do I do certain things and I’ve always been coy about it. An artist friend said, no don’t tell them how you do it, or they will steal your ideas. I have to admit that I am also afraid of that, because if I let people know how I do things, then they might also do them better than me, or they might become more successful with my technique than I am.
When I first went back to study a girl in my year saw that I liked doing black and white flowers, so the next thing I knew that is what she was doing. All her photos were similar to mine. It made me angry and I stopped doing them. It was hard having someone openly copy what I was doing.
Though, I do admire people like Brooke Shaden and Joel Grimes, who have no issues whatsoever with showing people exactly how they do their images, and how to achieve their look. I found this intriguing, and I asked Brooke about it, she said something about how she enjoys showing she works and teaching people, and if others are going to copy what she does, well there isn’t a lot she can do about it, she implied it would upsetting.
Joel Grimes was on the internet recently and he said a few things which I thought were interesting. He said “Get inspired by other people’s work”, a similar idea to what you learn at art school. He thought that people who copied his work exactly was a little too much. Taking parts or bits and pieces of other people’s work was fine, but don’t do exactly the same picture. He said he doesn’t feel bad when people do it, because that person hasn’t gone out and explored their own creative ideas.
These are interesting ideas I think we can learn from. I know for myself, I do things that Brooke does in her work. I know that I have just recently learned some new things from Joel that I want to also try. My process is a jumble of techniques that I have learned from many people. I don’t want to copy, but I try to find that aspect in their work that really catches my attention and then see if it will work in my own.
So, if you are trying to come up with your own style, just copying someone else’s work is just that: copying what they do. You don’t want to be known as the person who copies what another artist does, you want to stand on your own and have your own unique style. Sometimes copying what another does will help you find that, but it is important to work out what style is yours and follow your own creative path.
My style for architecture