There’s this unwritten demand in the artistic community that your work cannot be similar to other artists. If you create something, it has to come out of your own style and cannot resemble anyone else’s work. This concept demands a fierce independence between artists.

It’s difficult to blame any one person for this idea. Nobody wants to log onto their computer and see another artist with work similar to their own. It feels like they’re stealing your ideas and, in some way, your identity. It cannot be traced to a single person because it’s woven in the artist mind.

“Create something new and unique, something they’ve never seen before”. This is not a bad mindset, it just ignores the idea that we’re constantly influenced by other people. In birthing a new piece of art, you’re creating from a mind that’s seen thousands of pieces of other’s work. Nothing you create with your mind will ever be independent of those influences. They’re permanently engrained.

We have to abandon the idea that what we create is ours. It’s a product built by a community. You’ve moved the hand but, dear, the body is nourished by the external world. If not other people, you’re influenced by the architecture around you or patterns in the concrete. It doesn’t come from you, it comes from everywhere.

I’m guilty of being afraid to post because a work is clearly defined by another artist. But this is not how it’s supposed to be. If anything, it should be liberating to create. It doesn’t matter the source. If you’re inspired by the way the wind moves, great. By art hung in the galleries around you, fine. It does not matter where you gather your taste as long as you continue to create.

This image was made in 2012 and it took a long time to iron out the concept behind it. The original title was “Drain the Tank”. It’s about a man in some sort of capsule. The black liquid is being drained to reveal a man with color dyed into his skin. The black liquid represents the influences that surround him. The colors on his skin are what is left and has become part of him.

He hasn’t taken everything – otherwise his skin would be black. Rather, he’s pulled certain colors out that make him who he is. Another way of putting it: the tank was filled with all his influences and as it drained, it revealed him. Unique in his own way but built on the color and influence of everyone else.


Day four of BLOGtober!

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