Sunday, 4 October 2009

✳ Inspiration or Plagiarism ✳ {opening the debate}

It's tricky this internet stuff... there is so much creativity out there and if you start to surf then you will be bombarded by images upon images, waves of  quick fixes for  jaded minds and some of what I see is exemplary and some of it is mediocre, at best. But worse than that, so much of it is samey~samey/matchy~matchy and I start to suffocate with blandness. In fact, I've stopped looking. I love the regular blogs that I visit and am totally inspired by. Or the ones where I can see creativity budding and forming from the right places and they gladden my heart (for tis a frosty one). I love the blogs that tell me about the latest amazing things out there in windywonderwebland because half the time I don't get time and it is right and proper that I do not live in a bubble. Increasingly, I worry that MY ideas and unique ways get appropriated and I have hesitations about posting them. In a world where everyone seems to have a blog/opinion/voice I want mine to be as unique as possible, as creative as it can be. Which leaves me in a quandary. 

To post or not to post? 

My creativity is my living, my reason to live, it fills my every moment and I have so much invested in it. It comes and goes and I have days/weeks of frustrating going nowhere moments and I think I should just get a 'normal' job and then huge vats of creative harvest arrive and I can't sleep or eat, I have to get it out. It is honestly like giving birth every time. I suffer, everyone around me suffers and in the end it's done or not and I move onto the next thing. For in me, there is a wealth of ideas. They pop out around my ears like sparkles and if I don't grab them they burst and drift. I don't invest too much in grabbing every one, they can be annoying because I can't give them a name or a voice and sometimes I'm just too arted out.  But also, every now and then I do something or make something and realise it's just like something I have seen. Now have I plagiarised it or been inspired by it? I just don't know. There is so much in my head (like a bustling bazaar) I'm not sure where half of it came from. It must have arrived from somewhere. Either it's all my ancestor's voices jostling for some creative relief or it's all my own work. But everything I see, everything I read must  make it's mark like handwriting on my soul and changes who I am and how I see things for ever.

Take this image...nice eh? I got home from holiday and in the garden all my chillies had come to harvest, my Mr picked them and arranged them all in a bowl and I took them outside today and arranged them into rows because that seems to be my OCD/Virgo way and because it was pleasing and because I loved the shapes of the shadows. I wasn't thinking oooo I'm making art, I was just playing. Took some snaps and this one jumped out. I felt quite pleased with myself. Then I realised it was just like Anna's work from the wonderful blog Colour and Sound

Now, I love Anna's  work and I would be totally horrified if anyone thought I had copied her wonderful unique style. But I am totally acknowledging I must have been influenced by her which led me to great and deep thoughts this morning. Notice acknowledge has the words 'know' and 'led' in it. I wrestle with this stuff. I have noticed elements of my uniqueness creeping in out there in other blogs and I get upset but then I think I have got so many more ideas inside me ~ I come from a huge line of unique people and I'm sure they are all in my head urging me on. I would hate to not blog about my work, in my style, because I teach and I love that I have inspired people and this is the best platform for that, it would be a shame if I stopped. If I inspire you, then acknowledge it, it's only polite and if you can't be unique then do something else. I've got a living to earn.

What do you all think?

It's all too philosophical on a Sunday morning that's for sure. I hate to sound like a lecture with a waggy finger but I'm interested in how you all deal with this too? 

With deep apologies to lovely Anna and I hope she doesn't mind that I used her as an example. But she is just so damn inspiring. And here's one of  my own images, I just love piles of stuff! Now what can I do with all these chillies? Make chilli jam? Shame to waste them and they are very hot. Maybe a garland of them for the kitchen to brighten those dark nights that are on their way, galloping like a train towards us. I wonder how long they will last if I glued them to the wall! Maybe I'll cast them in plaster. I'll keep you posted  ;-)

Have a good week...


Valerie A. Heck said...

I'd rather post than not. I make jewelry and have worked with a lot of jewelry artists. They are always afraid of someone copying their work and you know what at some point that will happen. What that means is you need to continue to push your work to change and go to the next level. If you worry about others copying all the time you rob yourself of time to create. Be positive and realize you are inspiring others and keep on blogging!

louloulovesbooks said...

Thanks Valerie, I totally agree, I'm not going to stop, because I have a wealth of ideas. When I see an imitator then I shall just change direction. It's just sooo annoying. But I wont lose sleep, not unless it's for my next great masterpiece (tongue firmly in cheek)

chocolategirl64 said...

I read somewhere that "great work comes from standing on the shoulders of those that come before you".
We have our own personal visual vocabulary to create. All of this is filtered through observations and admirations. Surely that means that nothing is truly unique. It’s translated and observed and hopefully made somehow distinctive.
There is a big world of talent out there ~ some we have seen, we know and aspire to. But what about the big huge massive tree of creativity that we haven't? Sometimes you stumble on something and recognise it as being part of your thinking, your tribe, your vibe.
The musical scale has only 8 notes ~ 12 in an octave. You'd think that all the possible combinations would have been exploited by now.
But music plays on and so should you.

ps make sweet chilli sauce and try it with dark choc

suzie chaney said...

Oh where to begin! To be honest, I have had to learn to stop worrying about this. It used to be almost to the point of obssesion (Virgo here too!) that I strove for 'originality' in my student days, but now I question if it really even exists? I realise how much of a sponge I am, and how inspiration comes from so many sources, and indeed I'm positive things I see on the internet seep their way into my subconciousness. Acknowledgement of that is the best you can do. For instance, I am quite possibly the biggest Radiohead fan on the planet, who are pretty much the most inventive and original band out there; yet Thom Yorke relishes citing his influences and makes no bones about copying other great musicians that have gone before. That, to me, is truly put up your hand and be counted. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Having said that, I have personally been openly plagiarised recently and had to tackle the 'artist' in question, who got very, very defensive and unpleasant (they did remove their work from the internet, however!)

I shall continue to upload my images, share my ideas and inspiration as there is, as you so rightly said, a danger of working in a vacuum and becoming isolated, and because it is one of the fun parts of being an artist, along with the starving in the garrett, of course!
Please keep on sharing your great ideas with us, for your sake as much as ours!

Anna Betts said...

Great post, and no I'm not in the slightest offended Lou :) Thank you for the mention!

I think this is a really interesting topic for discussion. We've all recently seen the fallout of Samantha Beeston's plagiarism of various illustrators' work and there's no denying how shocking and baffling that is. But being inspired IS different to copying someone's work.

Your rows of chillies were instantly pleasing to my eyes because I too love rows of arranged objects, but then so do a lot of people! And that's why for centuries we humans have been collecting and arranging artifacts. There's something incredibly satisfying about the whole process of finding and treasuring things don't you think?

I think there will always be trends in art and design as we try to respond to the world around us with intelligence and sensitivity. Those of us in cities will often gravitate towards natural imagery, landscapes etc just like those of us with a love of nostalgia might work with retro typography and colours. There will always be themes in what we do.

The thing that I like about blogging is that we always try to credit people accordingly, and are often keen to try and work out where ideas come from. As interesting as this is, sometimes I think this can work negatively as it's effectively curbing our natural flow of ideas. I think you're right that we must grab all ideas that come to us, on the bus, in the bath, out on a walk wherever. Self-consciousness can be really destructive I find. I think as long as we keep getting work made and enjoy it because it's personal and means something to us then we will all progress as artists.

louloulovesbooks said...

That will teach me to post in a bad huffy mood! I love all your thoughts and comments.
Anna! Thank you for being so cool...I keep seeing potential 'arrangements' in everything and it's all your lovely fault.
Choc Girl! Food for thought... & there's only 26 letters in the alphabet and look what we manage to achieve with those?
Suzie! In Rainbows is up there with my top ten albums..I am secretly in love with Thom Yorke and at least he has the grace and strength to acknowledge his muse. I think that was supposed to be my ultimate point.
Just had a tippity tappety click click tut tut tantrum.
All better now. I've moved on to indifference!

Jane said...

I have just found your lovely blog. I agree it is a true dilemma. Nothing is really truly utterly original though is it. We are all still human beings with mostly the same DNA if you know what I mean. And as Anna says being inspired by something is completely different to copying. And as a lawyer I know that is absolutely true. So keep on doing your own thing and don't worry too much!

anie williams said...

Am sure many of us think about these issues. While I like to roam around the web, am often disturbed by how similar a lot of work is. Maybe there's some thread in the collective unconscious, but more likely its copying.I certainly don't agree with the 'sincerest form of flattery' line.We can't help being influenced by our times, our personality etc.& I'm sure everyone has noticed at some stage how an emotion or thought will move through a whole group - not personal.Ultimately it's all imagination. Still.. I quite like thinking it's 'my' idea.

louloulovesbooks said...

Jane, Welcome to my blog! Glad you dropped in, love the comment too. Great to have a lawyer on the team, I'm getting bored with artists.

Only joking girls...come baaaaaaack.

Anie~thanks for dropping in...It's certainly not a coincidence that a lot of images look similar and they get more and more diluted without the original inspiration. I suppose the secret is to let it go. Even if you think it's yours. If you have one great spark of inspiration, you'll have a thousand because that's the way you are programmed.

Francesca said...

hellooooo! i read a post like this quite often and it seems that something a bit dodgy will happen to all of us at one time or another.
keep blogging (if you don't mind!). i think yours is one of the original ones, with very much your own stamp. i love your little typed postcards especially.

my best ideas seem to come in the middle of the night. where from i do not know but i grab them and run!

i have been copied by a clothing label before, it was horrible, but in the end there was nothing i could do but write to them, ask them to acknowledge the similarities and remove them from sale. they did eventually.

how beautiful is chocolategirl's last paragraph, a lovely way to think about it.

p.s. i sound all serene but in reality i would be absolutely livid!

louloulovesbooks said...

Those pesky middle of the night ideas are so annoying~shall I wake up a bit more and write it down or hope that it's good enough to stay with me? and then when you awake it's gone and you know that it was the best idea ever floating off to the big 'never-to-be repeated' idea valley.
Thanks for the nice comments and I feel sufficiently talked off the ledge now!