If you’re an artist, I can guarantee that you take inspiration from other artists. Whether you’re inspired by the “late greats” like Van Gogh or Picasso or you’ve been greatly impacted by your art teachers (including me) or wonderful artists you’ve discovered on social media, your mind is filled with ideas for art that have sprung from the artworks of others. And that’s ok—it’s natural.
However, what’s not ok is copying other artists wholesale. First, it’s wrong from a copyright infringement perspective (if you’re copying very closely). And if you’re not copying exactly but your art looks too much like that of another, you’re being unoriginal and not bringing forward your own voice.
But what’s a developing artist to do? We look to other artists for education and inspiration but we need a strategy for how to develop our own original work in the process. Here are two smart ways to do this:
1. Take the Buffet Approach
When my family attends a big buffet brunch, you can be sure that we all return to the table with vastly different plates of food. My plate will be composed of half yummy fruit, an egg, and a slice of bacon. My brother’s plate will be half bacon (don’t tell his doctor!), some asparagus, and a deviled egg. Meanwhile my husband will have hit the charcuterie board and have a selection of cheeses and meats, along with a bagel. You get the idea!
You can use this approach when it comes to being inspired by other artists. Perhaps you like the color palette of one artist, and you mix it with the mark making inspiration from another artist, along with a layering technique inspired by yet another artist. By cobbling together your own unique “buffet plate” from a variety of artists, you are sure to create your own original artwork without copying those artists.