Don't blatantly copy other people's shit. If you do, at least have the respect to give them credit, or reach out and ask if it's OK to put on the internet. And if you're in the learning stage where you desperately need to imitate in order to find out what feels good to you, have the decency to keep it to yourself - not everything needs recognition. I had planned on writing a full post about inspiration vs. copying someone's work, but I re-read a post by Jessica Hische that I love and realized that I couldn't possibly say anything more relevant and graceful than she already has. So: Read this. Yes, you. And you, too. Even if you haven't copied anyone. It's just a good read in general, for all of us.
On the bright side, I'm feeling thankful that anyone on the planet thinks I have enough talent to be inspiring. I just hope they realize that Google Analytics tells me which pages visitors land on, where they're from, and how much time they spend looking at my site, right before they post a duplicate of something I've done. It's all veeeery interesting information. On any given day, it can make me laugh from seeing ridiculous Google search terms that led people to my site ("I like potatoes, I like meat" is one of my favorites), make me smile to know that my parents stopped by to read what I write, or help me discover someone who is just...copying my style, butchering it, not giving me credit, AND asking credit to be given to them. I'm trying to avoid calling anyone out, because I doubt that what I saw this week was done with poor intentions. I just need to raise a bit of awareness.
There's a video from Ira Glass that talks about the gap between what we see vs what we create when we're starting out as artists, and a lot of people have blogged about it so I won't go into it yet again, but I want to stress that that gap is real. It takes a long, long time to close the gap between what we see in our heads and what we actually create. And the only way to get over it is to be a sponge and keep soaking up visuals that inspire, and create constantly, for years and years. Progress is so good, and we should notice and be proud of ourselves for making that progress, always. But we also have to be mindful of the people that we're drawing our inspiration from, otherwise we're not really making progress, we're just being assholes.
I find that there are two types of artists: the type that go to school for it and the type that rely on their eye alone. I fall into the latter category, and the amount of time that I've spent in front of Sketchbooks/Canvases/Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign/even MS paint, teaching myself things and learning about what comes naturally to me and what doesn't is terrifying. If anyone were to tell me in 2004 that in order to get where I am today I would have to:
- Go to college for something unrelated to my career - Move across the US 3 times - Work for 8 months at a job with people that would watch every single move I make and judge ALL OF IT - Work for 8 more months at a part-time retail job and be unable to afford to live - Sleep on a floor for 4 months, waiting to find work and a bedroom - Work at a PR firm for a year that would give me panic attacks, suck out my soul and shit all over it, all while paying me late/under the table/without insurance - Spend years upon years creating things that aren't up to my own visual standards while I teach myself everything I know about art and design
...I would have delivered a big fat "fuck you" to the universe and gone back to bed. Thinking about the work I've done and the time I've spent doing it is really intimidating. But what I've found is that, in the past 6 months or so, my own artistic gap has finally closed. What I envision in my head is exactly what I'm able to create. My work needs less revision, clients are happier, my managers at work are happier, and I don't look back on things I did a few month ago and cringe. That is the most wonderful feeling, especially since I learn more every day and can only get better from here. I can look at good design and still see where it could be improved. I can look at my own design and see where my inconsistencies and flaws are and work on them. It's all just really cool, which is probably the most uncool way I can describe it.