Ideas were found, mistakes were made, and a world was created.
All of these things were accomplished within a week, in that week I discovered a very important element of creating. In fact I discovered that element all over again. During this past week I reverted back to the original way I created and found ideas. I reverted back to a time when I would to create something in the style of another artist.
I used to find ideas for my images from other artists who created within the same genre as myself. While trying to replicate what others did, I often found myself disappointed with the results of my art. Not understanding why I felt this way I went on creating like this for years.
Around the middle of last year I began thinking about why I was not content with my work. I started thinking about where I was getting my inspiration from and discovered that I was finding it from other artists. Ones who created much like how I did or at least how I wanted to. I wasn’t creating to be myself or to create my own style, I created to become like other artists. My desire was to replicate their style, not my own. This disastrous way of creating led to being frustrated while creating and hating the end results. I could not find joy in my work because it did not perfectly resemble another artists style. My goal in photography was to be exactly like different artists. That is, until I woke up.
We should strive to create our own style, unique and beautifully creative in our own ways. I stepped away from the place I was creating from and set out in the direction of what I hoped would become my own style.
For a year everything went well. I created for myself and edited how I wanted. I was able to create art that I was incredibly pleased with, art that I enjoyed creating. It was wonderful and for a while I didn’t care how my images turned out, they would come out how they were supposed to. And it would be okay if they were completely different from other artists.
Everything went well until this last week. Week 34 of my 52 week project had me completely stumped. I got into the week and ran into a wall, I had no idea what to shoot. I was left high and dry with no idea and an approaching deadline. Desperate for inspiration I turned to every source known to man but nothing worked. My mind was blank and so I reverted back to my old way of creating.
(Painting by Christian Schloe)
I found a painting on Pinterest, one I had saved to my inspiration board many months ago, and I decided to create that only in photo format. I have told myself many times that if I am to use an image as inspiration I couldn’t take the whole thing, just small elements, allowing me to add my own flair to the idea. But I thought there would be a big enough difference between painting and photograph that it would become my own.
But I found out this time, like every other time I have tried this, is that it is impossible to replicate something already in existence. Each artist has a very unique set of skills and no one can find a way to produce art the way they do. I rediscovered that when I faced a half edited image that I hated. No matter what I did I could not make the image look how I wanted it to look. Nothing made it look even slightly close to how the painting does.
This creative block led me to the thought that it wasn’t something new that had never been done before. I was recreating art that was already in the world. As an artist I create characters and stories, but here I was recreating a character and a story that already existed.
Why recreate something when you can create something completely new?
As I began to realize these things I stopped myself mid editing and began to think about how I would edit it. No longer was I focused on editing the image to how the painting looked, I edited the image however I felt like it, bending to the whims and ideas that flew into my mind at random moments. The image took over the process and I released my control over how it would turn out. For if I had forced the image to look like the painting, I would have hated it, felt disappointed in how it turned out, and would have wasted hours of time on something that didn’t fulfill my need to create.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with taking inspiration from another artist. In fact I would highly encourage people to look to famous artists for inspiration and knowledge on certain skills. Yet there is a very thin line when it comes to finding inspiration within their work. There is pulling inspiration from some small detail in their art, such as a pose, color scheme, or prop. And then there is drawing inspiration in the form of reproduction.
Our art should never be a reproduction of another artists work, to stand out in this world we must develop a style unique and personal to us. Recreating another style will always result in our work being second best. They were here first, they created first and here we are recreating.
Look to other artists for inspiration but never look at other artists to find a style.
Your style should be something you develop within yourself, over time and through creating personal work. I learned this the hard way, after years of working at becoming another artist I finally realized where I was going wrong and made a switch. It’s very easy to see what other artists do and say “I want to do that too.” We must learn to create for ourselves. It takes time, effort, and patience. Yet it is worth it in the end.
Create unique and inspiring work. Look inside for your style, it’s resting within your heart waiting for you to pull it out and show its beauties to the world. Become uniquely yourself.