Lately there has been a lot of talk amongst artists I know about the difference between using something for inspiration and using something for copying. How do you see a world of fascinating visual ideas but still craft something special of your own? When we start out learning we look to other artists. We learn from them but it’s important to evolve and find your own voice, your own look on the journey- something original and unique. There is a big difference in being inspired vs copying someone else’s work. Unfortunately it has become more common for people to confuse the two, especially when images are so available on the internet. As a creator of art, I am the owner of it. My rights to my images- my copyrights- are necessary for my very livelihood. I’m happy to take part with other artists in this blog hop, examining the issues of inspiration and using it to evolve your own style.
Growing up I was hugely influenced by colorful, beautifully illustrated children’s picture books. I could stare at the pictures for hours. Maurice Sendak, Hilary Knight, Rosemary Wells capitavated my attention. I loved line drawings, whether loose and carefree or exact and detailed. Characters with personality, stories shared in colorful pages- this inspired me to draw and create my own characters. And many of the works of art I saw every day, pieces by my mother and father, left a permanent impression in composition, line and character. My mother silkscreened cards with hand drawn type and a contemporary illustrational style. I was surprised to see her winter trees after all these years and see the lines and structure that has found it’s way into my own trees in my winter landscapes and my Deco Park fabric line. Truly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree... still, the feeling of the linear work is a jumping off point that a whole new composition blooms from. Inspiration from my environment was a starting point in my visual language and my work expands beyond it.
I shared my mother’s love of Charles Harper’s clean and modern view of nature, beautiful creatures shown in the simplicity of their forms. His geometric interplay of shapes make orderly and striking compositions. My BFA education heavily favored a Swiss Bauhaus design approach and I think I didn’t use a typeface other than Helvetica till well into the 90’s! I do numerous pieces with a clean graphic design aesthetic. In my Modern Garden line, I can see the influence of Charles Harper by seeing nature in clean graphic forms. Solid bold color reflects back to many compositions I enjoyed by him, although my own color combinations are more fanciful and less realistic.
Creating something of your own requires time to experiment, thinking/listening, and following your own instincts. It takes self confidence to put something uniquely you out into the world vs copying something. Our discoveries, our mistakes, our repetition of work starts to bring out subtle ways that we find ourselves gravitating towards a visual language that is our own voice. Have the courage to evolve your own look and follow that voice. Craft the pearl that is uniquely yours from the grain of sand that is your inspiration.