Influences and Copying

Episode 269 · May 7th, 2024 · 33 mins 46 secs

About this Episode

All artists are influenced by others, but when an artist has an authentic voice, their influences are well-integrated with their own unique vision. But sometimes the influence from another artist is so strong that the boundaries between the two are blurred. Today we’ll talk about being influenced by other artists -- when it is too much, and what it means when another artist is being copied. We’ll also mention ways that influence can constructive and positive and part of an authentic creative voice.

Influence itself isn’t a bad thing—in fact it’s a given as part of creativity. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and as artists we are naturally inspired by other artists past and present, and interested in and inspired by what they do. But there is a point when influence is too much, and you are taking liberties with someone else's work. While over-influence is somewhat expected when you are in a learning phase, as you mature as an artist it is expected that you move into your own territory.

Some strong resemblance to another artist's work can be understood as unconscious and even as parallel development. But if you want your work to be distinctive, you need to confront the possibility of being mistaken for the other artist or vice versa. And if you're consciously copying, it's not fair to you and your development, and not fair to the artist whose ideas you are replicating. You may rationalize this as being less well known than the other artist, or even as flattering to them. There are other problematic reasons such as not wanting to put in the work necessary to develop your own voice or wanting to ride into the art market on someone else's path.

To avoid having your work resemble someone else's work too much, it's helpful to have a large mix of influences rather than taking too much form any one artist. In that way, your influences can be compared to the various flavors you combine when cooking a complex dish, which has a unique taste as a result. You can also work with ideas that you perceive or interpret in an artist's work rather than adopting the look of their work as a whole. This is an important way to synthesize various influences so that you avoid too much visual resemblance. And most importantly, remember that your strongest influences should be the most personal, coming from your own thoughts, interests, and experiences.

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What's new at Cold Wax Academy?
What's new at Cold Wax Academy? You can now join the membership program on a month-to-month basis with full streaming access to all the great features offered, including Rebecca and Jerry's full-length video workshop and Jerry's Mentoring Messages and 12 Essential Lessons. Monthly memberships mean lots more flexibility for you--you can try the program out for a short time, or take a break when you need it. Live sessions will continue twice a month--and along with favorites like painting clinics, critiques, and guests, and as always, everything is recorded and available in the Member Library.

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