I've had this idea about ideas sharing, and open source development for a while and then an online friend and creative peer, Breana Ferrara Posted her little thoughts on copying on her instagram story. (@Corpulence_drip)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of copying work today. A lot of people recently have said “I would love to try X or y, but i don’t want to copy you, or for you to think I’m copying you.” But for me, unless you are literally ripping off and copying it millimetre by millimetre, I just don’t care or consider it copying in the negative sense. What isn’t copied? What is actually original?
How many times have I thought of an idea or design only to see the same thing pop up a couple months later on my insta feed? it occurs outside the art world too. You’ll have this incredibly specific idea, and somebody else will do the exact same thing on their own without you having communicated to them.
I have seen people who copy somebody mm by mm and I would call that plagiarism. But I have also seen plenty of people do very similar things that are clearly original in their own minds… so go for it then! It’s a fine line but also I just feel like we are so influenced by each other, our surroundings, why be so self conscious about being unoriginal or being influenced? Give credit if it needs it, but otherwise make your art.
I don’t know what is right and what is wrong, I think it is cade by case. But honestly I would be ignorant if I thought that all of what I was doing was totally original, so i don’t take offence if somebody tried something I am doing in their own work. It’s far more complex than this… but that’s just how I feel.
One of my jewellery profs once said to my class “sometimes even if it has already been done, you need to try it for yourself” and I feel that. “
My reply to her:
“Ok so the real biggest thing about copying is the financial loss that we suffer in this global marketplace if someone is copying us. However, that’s just a side effect of capitalism and is counter intuitive to how art should work. Instead of there being one you making what you make there should be hundreds. There should be hundreds of artists in every town making things locally for their local community.
We have this structure that expects you to be the One PopStar when realistically it would be incredible for every pub to have a singer who sang every song.
without different hands, different eyes, different skill levels copying our ideas how do we expect to create culture?
Human culture isn’t built on the backs of single heroes, it’s built on the mound of dirt we make by doing the same drawings and singing the same songs over and over again.
The individual creative requirements of capitalism don’t necessarily make good art, and good art is made in development with peers and community. No one can work in a vacuum but when we are supposed to be able to monetise our ideas when we really could just be surviving off our skills.
The worship, particularly of male painters, of individual artists creates myths of single geniuses alone changing the world. It’s not true.
They had friends, muses, pencils, cafe meetings to discuss manifestos. Everything.
The culture is social and capitalism wants to kill that.
stealing is normal, it’s natural and it’s what leads to development and if artists were paid for their time and not their ideas we wouldn’t even call it stealing.”
Lately I’ve been getting really into makeup. You could say this is a product of my breakup, or maybe it’s because I am fully forming myself into a 30 year old human and I know what I actually genuinely like, and what I think is being sold to me.
The fact that I am into makeup isn’t really the point here, the point is that I now follow a lot of makeup artists online and i’m witnessing trends in both beauty, and experimental makeup as they’re happening.
The great thing about makeup is it’s ephemeral, it goes on, it’s washed off. It’s a quick process when compared to almost every other form of creative expression. This speed, the ability to have an idea in the morning, a photoshoot in the afternoon and a post online by happy hour, allows for an incredible rate of development. Makeup artists smash through technical skills in months, the glow ups in blending, or contouring, or eyebrows are insane.
And the way they do it is by following tutorials, collaging, copying and drawing inspiration from other looks.
You can see it happen.
Trends like these are often ignored by people who talk about art too much, but they’re important to watch. Fashion IS the quickest most immediate form of culture expression. And fashion is an entire industry based of appropriation. How can something be IN this season if it’s not being made by more than one person. Trend is every person.
There are no original ideas. Even the vast, bewildering variety of nature can be broken down to DNA reshuffled, the same elements, the same patterns of growth. Golden Ratios and crystallisation keeping us all unique, and yet all identical down to our very cores.
We look back at the art from our past and we describe it in movements, we say The Surrealists, we recognise that abstract expressionism and cubism are different communities, different ideas, different explorations. What words do we have for now? how do we break down art now?
Artists have been forced to guard and protect their identities to such a point that we feel more and more like we have to distance ourselves from those doing similar work to us, when the truth is we should be banding together and communicating, and sharing manifestos, and developing games, patterns, techniques, songs and counter culture.
But we have to worry now. We have to worry about working together on a sculpture and who will own the intellectual rights to it. Who will get credited in the retrospective. Who will get to travel and talk about it while the ten people who helped build it stay home.
We don’t care, artists don’t care. Talk to any one and they’ll admit that if they had enough money to survive they’d make art every day until they died. Some artists talk about how their work as process driven, but in reality all artists work is process driven.
It’s in our bones, we are wizards who can create content out of air and culture out of scraps.
All your works could burn today and tomorrow you’d sit down and make more. So why must we waste so much time fiercely guarding energy we’ve already put out there, while the powder keg of untapped potential brews inside us?
Because in our climate if a big company steals your print and sells it’s for cheaper than you do, you’re the one who could die of starvation.
This carries to all people.
I’ve been thinking a lot about people having to protect ideas for financial reasons. How many different pharmaceutical companies right now are looking for answers to the same questions in locked down labs with NDAs? What if they’re all differently almost at a cure for malaria? How will they know?
In history we look back at the richest cultures of innovation and scientific development, creativity and art, and it’s clear that these are open source societies. Places with rich libraries, and a culture of shared information.
If all the genius kids at night school with brains hardwired for engineering, but parents too poor to get them through uni and years of internships, could suddenly have access to all the research that’s ever been done about their area of interest, how quickly could we save the world?
Monetising ideas is killing art, it’s killing science and it’s killing our lives.
Capitalism is a vampire growing fat, and eternally soulless by sucking us dry.