Yes, you are a cheat. You lied. You’re a ripoff. Oh boy, you may be minting money; but I won’t respect you, ever!
This is an artist’s nightmare. Yet, ain’t we all artists in a strange way? Am I an original or a bootlegged version of the society and the prevalent ideas?
I often wonder what qualifies as a rip-off or blatant copying, especially when Bollywood seems so short of novel ideas; with all those remakes of Tollywood and sassy “inspirations” from the western film-factory. Better yet, when I read about endless Apple vs Samsung patent wars. I wondered if Graham Bell was the sole inventor of the telephone, the idea being a revelation from the sky chosing him as its life-giver! (Thanks to Google, now I know he was not the lone idea receptor.)
Because everything you do is partly inspired by an outer source; even by groups of people or ideas. There is a reason that science and logic builds incrementally, and we all just contribute our bits in the collective human intelligence. But, don’t we all need sources of inspiration to fuel our imaginations? History stands a testimony to the fact that all great artists, scientists and contributors were inspired indeed, only adding a tinge of their intelligence or creativity in most of the cases, which makes all the difference.
Pablo Picasso held an opinion that while good artists copy, great artists steal. Newton called it standing on the shoulder of the giants. The line of distinction between pure lifts and genuine inspiration is sufficiently blurred. You may earn respect in the process, and people may try to rip-you off, someday. Or else your creations will lie in the dungeons with countless other half-hearted attempts plagued with boredom, or just plain dumb bad luck.
But, the important lesson remains to start: NOW! Don’t let the artist in you sit idle simply because you want to start off with completely original work. As Seth Godin says, real artists are those who ship their creation.
NC(x)= OC(1)+OC(2)+OC(3)………OC(N)+ Your Spark!
NC- New Contribution. OC- Old Contribution.
So there you are. This is the equation followed by every artist, even the great ones.
So, what are the things to keep in mind while you learn from the greats while not being labeled a rip-off:
- Have an intention to create something new. This is the cornerstone of any art, and deserves to be mentioned again for the heck of it. Though you’re dependent on the collective human intelligence, you are something not seen ever before.
- Don’t just look at the contemporary. Sure you need to create something of the present age, but it surely is beneficial to look towards history for drawing ideas. Dig deep and wide, for you may find hidden treasure troves. Then re-innovate for the present. Edit. Iterate. Learn. Inspire.
- Know the greats. To be really good, I try and take up all I can via books, movies or meeting in person with learned people. Being a connoisseur is fantastic. The spark often lie in the subtleties. Are you watching closely enough?
- Diversify. We already know from the theory of evolution that the best of everything survives. As different ideas mate with each other, the progeny is completely different; something truly unique, truly great. God bless that progeny.
- Receive genuine feedback. A good way of knowing the truth, whether you’re ogling gold or just regurgitating shit, is getting back to the stalwarts. It is nice to have a mentor who can teach you the tricks of the trade and who rescues you from the obscurity of the commons, propelling you towards your own path; a hundred thousand miles away from banality.
So what do you do for inspiration? Coffee is my cup-of-tea! Is the last sentence even correct? Who knows.
Posted by: Rohit Gupta