Wow, anon(s) bringing the complicated questions today.
This is another issue that most artists find themselves facing at some point. Inspiring others feels awesome. It means a lot to me when people say that, and I think most creatives would agree with me.
But sometimes it crosses a line. People go from being inspired to outright copying your work. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re doing it. I once emailed someone who had studied my designs and was attempting to make their own Beastlies. It’s not always easy to find a polite way to send that “Please stop doing this so we don’t have to get lawyers in the mix” email, but I tried to encourage her to find her own style instead of just ripping off the style that I had spent six years creating and refining. She responded by saying that her work looked like mine because “clay is a very limiting medium,” so she couldn’t possibly help making copies of Beastlies. That kind of crazybrain bullshit nonsense becomes a real problem for artists: People can get SO inspired by one person’s work that they can’t see past it to ever work on anything that’s actually their own.
So you know… Make stuff! Have a great time! I’m delighted to have been inspiring in some way! But keep in mind that just not trying to copy someone isn’t always enough. You actually have to outright TRY NOT to copy other artists. I do. Everyone does. It’s an essential part of being a creative person.
Great answer to a complicated issue.
Its sometimes tough to define the differences between inspiration and emulation, but its important to keep trying to do just that.
Because I’ve been watching cooking shows while I paint, to me its a bit like having a brilliant meal at your favorite restaurant. It was amazing, and you’re inspired to cook. Brilliant!
Inspiration: You take a striking aspect of the dish (say, the use of a particular spice) and attempt to incorporate that into one of your own tried-and-true recipes.
Emulation: You attempt to re-create the dish in its entirety.
The food comparison breaks down here a bit in that most people don’t then hang out a shingle and proclaim themselves a professional chef with the same frequency as I’ve seen in the art community.
The origins of that dish you attempted to remake are a total mystery to you. It may have been based on the chef’s grandmother’s cooking, by childhood memories of similar meals with family and friends, informed by experimentation with ingredients and refined by education and endless practice.
In trying to emulate that piece, not only are you robbing yourself of the ability to grow through your own process, your copy will never have the ability to speak to people the way the original does because you’ve no earthly idea what’s gone into it…. and that process isn’t yours.
Saying ‘clay is a very limiting medium’ is like saying ‘there are only so many ways to make pasta’. Its as deluded as it is silly (and my Italian friend would probably throw something at you).
You absolutely have to actively try to find a distinct style for your own work. Actively trying to make something that is genuinely different (and no, gluing sparkles on someone else’s design doesn’t count - yes, someone tried that) is an important part of the process because it involves thinking critically about your work.
Ask some friends you can trust to be honest. Where possible, ask artists you admire for a critique (and be prepared to gracefully accept what they say).
Be inspired, but make sure the root of your work is still you.
I really wish this behavior would stop. And I really wish the apologists (who are usually the culprits) would not defend it. A copy is a copy. Inspiration is inspiration. I’m INSPIRED by other artists who create, INSPIRED TO CREATE…not to copy what they are doing.
Come up with something of your OWN, something to be proud of. Don;t take the easy way out. I promise it’s more rewarding. Harder, yes, but the best things always are.
If you’re starting out, do studies of other artists. Go ahead and completely and thoroughly replicate everything they do. Go to museums, look at actual masterpiece paintings and drawings and sculptures. Studies are an important part of learning to be an artist.
Then throw them away.
The next step is harder. Develop your own vocabulary, your own techniques, a personal style. The world doesn’t need 2 or 3 or 4 (insert artist’s name here). We just don’t. The world needs you to grow and flower and bring something new to the party.
Bill Sienkiewicz is a master artist, but he started out drawing kind of like Neal Adams, and if he hadn’t found his own voice… the world of comics would be worse off.
Ashley Wood is another master artist, but he started out drawing kind of like Bill Sienkiewicz, and if he hadn’t found his own voice… the world of comics would be worse off.
Find your voice.