A while back, my husband started a blog. I won’t get into many unnecessary details regarding how, but I ended up designing his site. Mind you, I only customized a template – it’s not like I did any programming or anything. At the time, he had a very specific idea of the look he was going for and was able to give me some reference material to base my design on.
More recently, he started building another (music-related) site for himself and asked if I would help him with the design/template customization again. “Okay,” I said, “give me an idea of what you’re looking for.” “Well, I really liked what you did with the blog,” he said, “so just do whatever you want. I trust you.”
|Someone whose job it is to copy.|
For a few months, the site sat there looking all lonely and forlorn with some default template banner at the top.
There are many artists out there who must routinely realize someone else’s dreams instead of being able to use their own creative style. I’m sure they long for someone to say to them what my hubby said to me. I however, can’t do it. I’m not too chicken. I can admit it: I don’t have the artistic skill to do it. I’m not good enough.
For me, I need something to copy off of. This is something that, as an “artist,” I’ve always been ashamed of admitting. Every artist wants to be original. No one wants to be caught copying, and legally, you can’t be.
Only recently have I given myself permission to admit this and to just resign myself to the idea that I am not DaVinci, but one of his understudies. I have technical skill, but I am not the idea man. One year, the huz was directing an original play at the school where he teaches; my sister-in-law designed the sets but wasn’t always able to get to the school to help build and paint. But I could. I had the designs and Gina’s vision and went to work (with tons of help, of course). It was great. My uncle started a business and asked me to design a logo for him. He gave me some ideas and I was able to present a half-dozen options.
But give me carte blanche and I am at a loss.
So I was only too happy while reading The Creative Habit... to hear Ms Tharp not only suggest copying the all-time great artists, but to endorse copying as a means to acquiring skill. She does not, of course, mean that you should duplicate someone else’s work or idea and call it your own. The lesson is that by copying a great artist, one studies and, hopefully learns, steps, techniques and patterns that can only serve to enhance your own abilities.
|My husband's inspiration for the look of his blog,|
and a portion of the header I designed based on it.
I learned in the world of food blogging that you can’t copyright a list of ingredients. But you can call a recipe’s instructions your own – so that’s where you can get caught “stealing” a recipe. So, when one finds a recipe that piques one’s interests but adds an ingredient, or subtracts an ingredient or changes the ingredient amounts and perhaps changes the cooking method... One can develop one’s own recipe. Conscientious food bloggers routinely give credit to the original chef by saying “adapted from...”
Perhaps when I see a photograph I like and try I to imitate it (how’s it go? imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...?), I can post my photo and post the original and say “adapted from...” hahaha If nothing else, it will help others know I’m a beginner photographer and I’m not trying to steal. Just trying to improve. I know Twyla is not the “end all, be all” of creative advice. But it certainly makes me feel better knowing that professional artists out there are okay with copying – at least as a learning tool.