How do you stand out from the crowd? … artistically-speaking that is….
Well, usually that doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it never happens. That’s ok – creating things is fun to do, whether or not you eventually become the kind of person with exhibits in museums. Making is satisfying all on it’s own.
But often we do want to find our own voice, create our own things, make our own look. How does that happen?
The simple answer is that no one really has their own look… well, that’s not exactly true. Many artists have their own look, but, in everyone’s art are hints of other artists. It’s a human thing. We imitate, mimic, copy, borrow, are inspired by, give homage to and adapt. It’s not a bad thing, as long as we remember the debt we owe to all those others who have contributed to the sum of our artistic whole.
Ok, so before this becomes a sermon, I’ll just use a few examples from my own work. I think I can say that I have a “voice”. Most of my work is usually pretty recognizable. It’s been the process of a lifetime of creating. But recently I have been thinking a little more about what influences have helped give shape to my “voice” — who have I imitated, mimicked, copied, borrowed from, been inspired by, given homage to and adapted?
Well, that list is endless. Here’s just a few of those I am in debt to.
One of my earliest influences was Dr. Seuss. I think you’ll recognize glimpses of his unique and amusing creatures in some of my own.
See – not an exact copy of course, but an eternal debt I owe to his delightful, happy weirdness that shaped my own weirdness.
As a more mature artist (and I use that term loosely), I recognize the debt I owe to ancient Egyptian and Aztec and Mayan artists – their lines and colors and details inspire me. I’ve looked at images of the artwork of those civilizations my whole life, and it sneaks it’s way into my pieces often.
More? Ok. I realllly dig the artists in the Art Nouveau period, and go to Lalique and Mucha and Galle and the rest when I want my own creative juices to be stirred up.
And the Impressionists! Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Gaugin… love their creations, and their voices are echos in my own.
That’s enough I think for you to get what I’m saying…. Finding your own voice, your own look, your own expression is an admirable goal as an artist. It is a lifelong journey. But we get there with a little help from our friends. That should keep us humble, thankful, respectful and willing to help and share with others. That should make us appreciate those who give us inspiration. Being able to recognize and acknowledge that we part of a flow of creative energy makes us bigger, not smaller, as artists and as humans.
So I’m going to keep refining my own voice. I love the solo parts. But I know I’m part of the chorus too, and I’m really ok with that.