Thursday, November 26, 2020

Acknowledging Artistic Influence – Why Copying is in Bad Taste

Submitted by Tamara Taylor. Steal all you want. Borrow away. Tear delectable tidbits off other’s art and use them to add flavor and flair. Let your audience feast on a buffet of Rembrandt inspired delicacies. Garnish an image with a morsel of Lebovitz-esque lighting. Spice things up with posing nicked from Michelangelo.

Swipe shades, take tones, heist hues- slip them in your pockets, pilfer them for your pallets. Bottle a concept that captivates you, and when you’re ready, shake it up, drink it down, and let if flow through you and onto your canvas to tell the story in your own voice, forming the shape and sound of each word. Taste them.

It’s said that there are only seven basic plot lines in the world. Only seven stories. The flavour, the palate, the style, the garnish – this is where the art is.

Your interpretation of the story is what makes you an artist.

An estimated 107 billion people have existed in our planet’s history. Nothing is original, there are no truly new ideas. There is borrowing, there is stealing, there is inspiration. All of these things require a humbling process – acknowledging that at least elements of our creations have been pilfered, borrowed, stolen, influenced by others...AND THIS IS OKAY.

Let’s step back from the world of art and photography and look at this concept using food for a moment. A glorious meal might inspire us to try a new cooking technique. To use a new garnish. To mix flavours together in a new way that we hadn’t considered before. To consider spices we didn’t realize existed... AND THIS IS OKAY.


But if we attempt to recreate that meal, step-by-step, with identical ingredient we don’t get to claim that we created the recipe. You don’t get to order take out, change the packaging, and claim that you made it. If someone commissioned you to make an original burger for them, you might be inspired by elements of your own personal favorite while creating it, but you wouldn’t give them a replica of a certain burger that contains ‘two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…’ and say “look, I created this!”.

That’s not creating – it’s copying... AND THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Copying doesn’t acknowledge the process of stealing, or borrowing, or of being inspired by.

Taking someone else’s idea, and making something based solely on that idea, isn’t creating. If the story you are telling is not being told with your own words, it isn’t your story. Imitating someone else’s voice and trying to pass it off as your own is not art. It’s plagiarism, it’s forgery, and it’s not okay.

There may be a limited number of plot lines, and there may be no truly original ideas, but there are still endless ways to express those ideas. As artists we are storytellers, and if we’re going to tell stories, let’s make them our own. The words already exist, chose which ones you want to use to tell your stories, in your own voice.

Submission by Tamara Taylor.

Tamara is a Nationally Accredited photographer with PPOC. Her Accreditations are for Infant and Child Portrature. She is based in Edmonton, AB. where she co-owns Fox And Gem Photography. Her focus is primarily on Painterly Child Portraits.



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