Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is Inspiration?


Lately I have been plagued with the idea of art and craft and how we come to create our own style. I am inspired by so many things every day...music, nature, color, beads, Sofia, stripes, old houses, museums, magazines, textiles, flea markets, friends, France, food, family...the list goes on and on. How can we own one idea when we all are influenced by so many of the same ideas? How is it that we presume to think that since we created something, we own it? Isn't every great design simply an interpretation of an older design? Shouldn't all of our life be about sharing something we create in order to inspire others? Maybe this is too optimistic - maybe we haven't developed enough to carry this out - but I believe that if we are all going to move forward in this big world of creative design, we need to always create from within and credit those who have inspired us. I have been in the creative business long enough to have been scarred by the feeling that someone "knocked me off" - it made me sick - to death. I had to take a backseat and begin again, begin from the point of owning nothing but wanting to explore everything, again, for the first time. The anxiety that comes with feeling ripped off or copied is a very negative feeling - one that works against the creative process. There will always be people who want to profit from someone else's hard work - but hopefully, they will learn to develop their own sense of style if they hope to stay afloat. Maybe we should be willing to let people be inspired by us - just a bit - so that we are pushed to develop more. I have always hesitated writing about this - becasue it is such a hot spot for so many people - but I think the time has come for everyone to admit that inspiration comes from all of us and we couldn't do what we do without everyone that has come before us.

24 comments:

klk said...

Thanks for your point of view. I struggle with this -- I don't want to be derivative, but I am influenced by many things I see -- the "I wish I'd thought of that" syndrome. It's hard for me to trust my voice. But what you had to say today helps me put it into perspective.

Gail said...

Kaari,
It definitely is a hot topic.......one we all struggle with for sure. However, it's my humble opinion that when one complains publicly about being "copied" or that "our" idea was stolen, it makes one look very petty and envious of someone else.
And those are not feelings I would want anyone to think about me! Better to admit seeing an idea that really sparked your imagination and then putting your own stamp on it to make it yours....there's nothing wrong with that and it's flattering to the original artist. (At least it should be).
Art is meant to be shared.......

Petite Michelle Louise said...

i needed this Post so VERY much! truly..your words have helped to sooth my aching (and angry) heart after some of what I considered my "unique and original" creations were copied almost exactly! It is true what you say...our ideas are inspired by so many who came before us..we ned to acknowledge that and embrace it. Merci...

Anonymous said...

Bravo! This is a much needed conversation and I am inspired that you have started it here on your blog. I am influenced by so many artists and my work is a compilation of everything I see that I love. I agree, not one of us stands alone in this world, we all benefit from those that have come before us. Thank you for your insight and your writing.

MF

Anonymous said...

Well said Kaari! I heard once that there's only one original idea every hundred years! We should all feel blessed by the talent we were given and not hide them away! You are definitely an original and I'm so thankful to know you and your family!

Julie B.

molly said...

Aaaaaameng, Sister!

Kris Vogelsang said...

So true! Inspiration comes at you from every corner of your world...hopefully, that creates something 'new', but usually its based on something 'old', everything just keeps evolving. There should never be out-and-out copying, but artists need each other to be inspired. Give credit where credit is due, and keep designing.

Lorrie said...

This is a great topic. Very timely, too. We all live in this world, and are now so interconnected that we all influence each other in so many overt and covert ways.

Great comments, too.

Tammy Gilley said...

Beautifully put. You've nailed it, Kaari. Thanks for putting it out there. It's hard to step around that elephant who's taken up residence in the living room.

Jillayne said...

Very well said Kaari!
I have always believed that there is no way in the world there isn't someone else sitting and dreaming about the same things as me... these buttons this way, with that lace, or those stitches. We have so many commonalities in what we do that it's just impossible to believe we are completely alone in what we create.
I am so grateful all the time that people share what they do and what they know....it takes a great deal of effort to design and create things and an exceptionally generous spirit to share in a world where some will take advantage.
What I don't respect is when people are not willing to put in any hard work and want to blindly copy without giving credit.

paige said...

Kaari, You are such an inspiration to me and this post solidifies the class act that you are. *HUGS* Paige

ps~You are one of a kind!

Anonymous said...

My original ideas can also be original to someone else. I have seen on etsy at least two of my original ideas, things I had never seen before I did them, and done by people who would never have seen mine(I usually only create for myself.) We all know that people instantly copy a good thing, and take the credit for it, and it is ALWAYS wrong to do so. But blatant copies often do not have the "heart" of the real thing, they are simply copies, and often inferior. The original creation takes it's inspiration from what went before, and from the creativity and soul of the designer, who usually freely admits where her inspiration came from. Our satisfaction comes from maintaining our own honesty and integrity.

Rebecca said...

Well said, Kaari. Thanks for being the one to say it :)

theodora said...

Bravo Kaari.
This issue needs to sit along side the creative process on the table.
Creativity and tweaking are 2 very different things.
I have seen & felt much of this over the years and even giving the designer where the "inspiration" came from some credit goes a long way. I always consider inspiration to be what influences one, not a tweak of an original to be called inspiration. Authenticity perhaps needs to be used if you are authentic then .....
I read all amount of reasoning why look alikes are okay to take from a blog as it is considered a "public Domain" ...
It needs some spring cleaning..& by raising the topic always helps.
Barbara

Robin Thomas said...

Kaari,

After I read this post I saw the Stepahnie Lee post about what we create with our talent does not belong to us but to humanity.

Thought it was an intriguing follow up to your post.

Laura at Anthology said...

Thanks for your words of inspiration. I think we all wrestle with this in our creative lives. Have you read "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde? It talks about our creative commons and raises similar points. And I think that the creative interaction also speaks to our current social and political issues: we speak as if the success of one person has nothing to do with anything except their own work. And yet, in the extreme - if each of us was to work with no outside influence or interaction at all, that would require living in a black plastic box, so clearly that doesn't work. Likewise, where would as artists be if we had zero input from the outside world? not very far, I imagine. We are all connected - we owe our lives and creativity to the work that everyone does.

Kimberly Jones said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic Kaari. I love sharing what I've created on my blog, and I hope my ideas are original and authentic. But I also know that I've spent thousands of hours looking at magazines,reading hundreds of blogs, taking classes,etc. I'm sure sometimes that what I think is my own idea actually came from something I had seen before, but had forgotten! I always try to give credit whenever possible, and I would be crushed if I ever unintentionally copied someone. But I do believe that we all inspired by each other, and at the same time we each put our unique stamp on our creations. When I post something on my blog, I do so hoping that someone else will be inspired by my vision, just as I have by so many others. For me, it's all about sharing, and I genuinely do not mind if someone copies me. I would appreciate a credit, but don't waste time worrying about it. To be honest though, I've never developed a product line, or had anyone blatantly copy my work, so who's to say how I would feel then? I hope that I could maintain a positive attitude, but I'm sure it wouldn't be easy! In the meantime, I'm trying to be true to my own self, and to give credit where credit is due. Thanks for addressing this very tricky and emotional subject!

debbie said...

Sooo agree

Betzie said...

"Shouldn't all of our life be about sharing something we create in order to inspire others?"

I so love this line in your post. I find that in this world of infinite possibilities and inspiration, that at times I get overwhelmed.I have to stop looking and reading and make myself just get into the process of creating...otherwise I want to try to take on too much. When I finally just listen to my own muse, that's when I am the most happy...surely that muse is known by all of us. If I don't share what I've done, it sits and collects dust. My creativity is wasted...if it's shared and then copied, does it really matter? I think that is a great compliment...but that person that copies it lacks the joy and inner satisfaction that I achieved when I created the original product. That can't be copied. Wish I could let that muse speak to me more often as I find daily routines and even the computer distract me from her voice way too much.
Loved your post...thank-you! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you - thank you - thank you for this post! Finally a positive and realistic focus on the subject. Thanks again!!
Kas

Michelle Rose Jorgensen said...

I have been wrestling with writing about this myself. But my heart has been too heavy. Thanks for writing it for me my friend.

primitive spirit said...

yes, you are exactly right! i do get my inspiration from here there and everywhere. hopefully i do my own version enough that mine is a unique enough take on what i see.
i admire your work and have several of your books which always inspire me. stop by and see my studio space and musings. i will be doing a book review within the month that includes a blurb about one of your books. primitivespirit.wordpress.com
karen

Lizzie said...

Well said!! I have wanted to write something like this myself but didn't want to appear a grumpy old woman. I talked myself out of it by reasoning that I cannot be the only person in the whole world that would think of that! I find inspiration and influence everywhere and I look at so much a forget a lot of it - but do I? I think it just gets filed away in the old grey matter until needed. It is a gut wrenching thing to find that someone has produced an identical idea, but as they couldnd't possibly have known what was going on in my mind it is merely a co-incidence.

wendy addison said...

IKaari, you are one of the true originals in this design business, and you have a such a generous and philisophical spirit, but this approach is used by many, much lesser persons, to rationalize away blatent copying. It is just too easy for many people to say "I could do that" - after seeing something it has taken someone blood, sweat and tears to develop. An authentic, original artist and designer who has devoted years to creating her own unique look, can be knocked off overnight by someone who "tweaks" their design or does a quick "re-mix" and then calls it their own.
I think everyone needs to look deep INSIDE for inspiration...not at what the other guy is doing.