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From one artist to another,
Where’s the balance between what we can create and have agency over, and what belongs to those who view it? commission it?
There’s an entire section of law devoted to intellectual property, so we could get really into the weeds on that if we wanted to, or we could talk about what a thought is, and who individuals are. We are the differences between each other, personified. Simultaneously, that makes us all mostly made up of the same, same stuff, and thus, many of us on separate occasions have the same thought. We can see this phenomenon in scientific papers, where all of a sudden many different studies will all come to the same conclusion across the world without previously communicating with each other. We can see these happenstances in those closest to us when we somehow read another person’s mind, say something they were just about to say themselves. Just as there are no new ingredients on earth, there are no new musical notes and no new colors of paint. What makes certain concoctions original? What makes certain combinations a copy? And finally, what’s the difference between an homage and a ripoff?
What belongs to the viewers, and what belongs to us?
Or is it all a race to see who can first reduce an idea down to a reality?
The older I get, the more I wonder why we don’t celebrate our differences instead of penalizing them. I like to think that for every person on earth both living and dead (and soon to be), they know/knew/will know something that I will never know.
I try to remember this as I slam on my brakes to allow a speeder in to merge in front of me without using their blinker.
I try reeeeealllly hard.
See, that right there was relatable. Comedy is a play on what we all can relate to, our commonalities. Music is a challenge to break the right rules at the right time, which means there are rules to begin with, a guideline of sorts. There’s an established color wheel and everything, for paint and visual media. We want to see and listen to what looks and sounds “good”, which itself is subjective and relative to what we already know. In theater, we call this a suspension of disbelief; the idea that we all agree for a moment to believe what’s happening on the stage. Like entering into an agreement with the creator when you view a piece of their work. You’re believing that this set of notes/combo of ingredients/these slaps of paint, that this is a piece of the artist, an internal concept made external.
I guess even really good forgeries are still original in some sense.
Not that the hope or idea is to copy other people’s work, the idea is to create original content as an artist or a creator, but as many will say, learning by emulating is one of the best ways to learn.
There’s even a book about it, ‘Steal Like An Artist’ by Austin Kleon that delves deeper into this.
Then, after all of this, let’s say you do create an “original” works. How the piece is interpreted, despite how detailed it may have been explained, will ultimately be up to the viewer. At that point, it’s out of our hands, as an artist. It no longer belongs to us. Sure, we may have birthed the idea, but the creation walks on its own.
What do you think?
For more musings and behind the scenes commentary, support me on my Patreon here