Being Inspired Versus Copying

Being Inspired vs Copying

This was supposed to be my post the other day but Ponggo told me that it was too frank and that I’m just begging for unsolicited reactions.  This time, it’s not even about my work.  Sure, I’ve seen so many headless Googly comics online (i.e. comics shared and gathering a really good amount of likes with the header, website & logo cropped out).  Also, some local company is running around with our Googly files selling them in malls on shirts.  But, we will deal with these privately.

Anyway, so, I scrapped the idea of putting this out there until I stumbled a prominent local Instagram account today.  I opened it and it had all sorts of pretty colorful things. It was easy on the eyes… I was about to hit the follow button then I found myself squinting and saying,”Hmm…Hey, this looks awfully familiar!” Then, I started feeling disturbed.  I was staring at was an exact replica of artworks by a couple of my favorite foreign artists.  And of course, if you’re an artist stalker/ fan girl like me, you’ve pretty much memorized their works and gushed over every piece in their portfolio.

Drew Europeo Calligrafikas artworks


Yao Cheng vs Calligrafikas 2

Calligrafikas vs Yao Cheng

I’m not shunning the artist on the left totally which is the reason why I deleted the IG handle.  I mean, you need some mad awesome skills to be able to copy something.  I just wish credit was given where it was due.  🙂 I’m just putting this here so that people understand what I’m driving at. (Of course, you’re all free to correct / enlighten me if I’m wrong.)

So, wait.  Before I make you unnecessarily paranoid, where does that line start & stop?  When is it considered inspired versus copying?  As Austin Kleon puts it, players in the market actually inspire each other which is why, as Abbey Sy pointed out to me, all the statues during the Renaissance era had the same style.  It’s pretty much the reason why a lot of the gowns on the runway from the same year and same season look alike.  It’s the reason why products in the same industry have the same packaging, weight et cetera.  It’s the reason why all the fashion bloggers have such identifiable poses. *I know you could easily give me some top of mind poses. Okay, don’t stand up & do those poses yet, I still want to talk to you! ;P* This is also why if you hit the explore button, the sea of Instagram watercolor & typography posts that you will be looking at is pretty identical.

Originality Typography by Katrina Etong
“There’s no such thing as originality” – Type work by @TheWordAffair, Quote by John Hegarty.

How do you become original?  Well, everything really inspires everything. *And I really wish I could find that Plato article that talks about this.* I mean, of course you’re allowed to draw or write a poem about leaves & flowers because it’s in the nature that surrounds you.  No one ever said “I draw & paint flowers so you can’t”.  But, if you’re copying every teeny weeny detail down to the palette and every color of every leaf and you’re not citing your source of inspiration, that’s copying.

So, what are we supposed to do?  I think Niña Alvia of Candy Magazine Online articulates it best by saying:

“Don’t be afraid of any of the creative juices and ideas flowing from you! It doesn’t matter where you take inspiration from, so long as the end product is nice, it’s fine. So long as you aren’t copying the exact thing, it’s fine! No to plagiarism!”

Copying may probably be inevitable because that’s how we humans learn something. Babies mimic their parents.  If you’re in a dance class, you’re expected to copy your teacher.  But, if you’re copying for the sake of practice, just cite the owner of the original artwork.  

Credit Your Inspirations Daniel Lei
“Credit your Inspirations” Lettering work by @Daniel_Lei_Studio on Instagram.

Otherwise, it’s as if you’re claiming that you’re the mastermind behind the style, palette, stroke, lay-out & concept of the work and it’s a disrespect to the artists who have spent years and years searching for their own unique style.

Anyhooz, thank you for bearing with my random brain fart as usual. I’m so sorry but writing & doodling are just therapeutic to me and as soon as I get it out there, it’s no longer in my system. *Woops!*

Alrighty, me and my hormones shall get back to work.

Tipsy ♥

Related Reads:
Get the Colors You Want with the New Pantone Color Guide

Finding Your Own Style
The Design Process
Excuses to Buy Art Materials
Florence, The Seat of Renaissance
Doodling on a Different Level: Titus Pens iDoodle Challenge

P.S. In other news, you may still sign up for the workshop waitlist since some slots have not yet been reserved. But, if you wish to join another Watercolor & Lettering session, we’re adding July 19 at Fully Booked in Greenbelt 5 to our list.  🙂 You may sign up here.  See ya!

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9 years ago

Wow! This was really enlightening. I’m a huge fan of artists both local and foreign, including you and I admit sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish “being inspired” from “copying”, but I’m glad you explained everything clearly. Now I’m getting paranoid that I’m on the path towards copying other people’s work; although I’d like to think that I have my own ideas popping up in mind when I see other people’s work. I also think that inspiration happens when there’s a sudden burst of energy and excitement that there’s so much possibility not only in art but also in life. That way, you feel like you can do so much more and you get to incorporate your identity into your work and call it truly yours. And yes, I definitely agree to giving credit to those who inspired us. 🙂

9 years ago

I think if your THAT inspired by someones work you should 100% state that, not just act like you came up with it.

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