Blog / 2014 / A New Perspective on Originality

May 18, 2014

For more about the brilliant and generous Narmada Ramakrishna, go here.

These days, I’ve been talking a lot about originality and imitation on my blog. Some of that has to do with the conversations I had in my European travels, but a lot of it has to do with having my style copied by someone I went to college with.

At first, I was thrilled to see this copycat work, but when this other person refused to admit that she was inspired by my technique, I was hurt and confused. When you look at any of her images and especially when you look at her portraits of people it becomes obvious that she’s laying my kind of expressive marks over her way of painting smoothly. This person may be making painterly paintings because she’s gotten a good response from doing so, but she is naturally someone who blends as she paints.

Over the last month, as I’ve been sorting out my reactions and my emotions, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. To begin with, while I still believe that imitation should be celebrated and not punished, I don’t think lying should be condoned.

For another, it’s not just originality that’s a matter of perspective. The truth is as well. This person who’s copying my style and claiming it as her own is, in some ways, being perfectly honest. After all, while her style may resemble mine if you don’t look too closely at our work, it’s doubtful that anyone will ever mistake one of my paintings for one of hers.

UPDATE

May 22, 2014

You can now watch my TEDx Geneva talk!

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