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Artists can’t help but be inspired by the world and words they see around them – but what is the difference between being inspired, and blatantly using someone else’s ideas as your own? As an artist whose work is based on the inspiring words and quotes of others (you can see some of my collage art with quotes here
), I’ve been curious about the ethics of using someone else’s ideas and words in my creative work. I asked mixed media maven Mae Chevrette
for her thoughts on the ethics of using quotes from others in her artwork:
” Ethically, I believe it to be sound as long as the new work is not taking away from the original work in any way and not harming the creative originality, ideas or profit of the original creator. One part of this which is very, very important is giving credit where it is due – to me, the creative credit is just as important as any monetary credit would ever be, so I make sure to always credit the creator and in some cases gain permission if at all possible (as with a new piece I’m working on which quotes a pro surfer – awesome dude who I was even more inspired by after getting a hold of him!). I have seen takes on my work and words that made me very appreciative and humble, and also blatant copies that made me very upset. Additionally, it is obvious when a work is made as an homage to an original work, and obvious when it is made as a cheap copy or desperate attempt at originality. I think in their hearts most people can look at a work and know which is which, and that makes a huge difference in whether it is acceptable or not.”
What are your thoughts on using quotes or ideas from others in artwork?
Have you ever struggled with defining the line between inspiration and imitation? I’ve love to hear your thoughts on this controversial topic on Twitter
. Let’s chat!
For me, the hardest part of an art project is getting started. (Can I get an “amen!” from all the perfectionists out there?) When doing collage art, I get the most stuck at the beginning, figuring out where to start with the background. After all, the background is what an entire art piece rests on – and while it can’t be too plain and uninteresting, it also can’t be too busy that the text and images layered on top aren’t readable. So how do you choose background papers for a collage? For me, the real answer is “I just choose what feels good!”. Which is a supremely unhelpful answer, I know. But if I analyze what makes me feel good, here’s what I look for when starting a collage:
Look for backgrounds that will allow you highlight the focus of your piece. For me, the quote is always the focus. If the letters are going to get lost against the background, then the piece as whole won’t work.
Look for interesting textures, patterns, and colors. Visual interest is important! I love the richly layered look of collage art, and finding neat background materials that jive together in a pleasing way pretty much rocks my world.
Look in unexpected places for background images. I found this vintage map of New York in my old car that was passed down from my grandma – it had been in the glove box for years. Old dressmaker patterns have beautiful graphic designs, and are transparent enough to allow layers to show through. Vintage books have beautiful illustrations and gorgeous pages of text. Wallpaper samples can be bursting with pattern and texture, ranging from bold to subtle. A printed paper placemat from a kitchsy diner has retro appeal. Keep your eyes open – you really can find great art supplies in places you’d never expect.
One last thought when starting a piece of art…
Trust your gut. Trust that you know what you like. Trust that you know what feels good to you. Trust in the experiment. Trust in your awesome creativity.
To see more of my art (finshed art! Not just backgrounds!) you can visit my Etsy shop
PS. If you’re selling your collage art, choose images that won’t get you into trouble! Your own photography, messy painted textures, layered grocery receipts, and vintage book pages all make beautiful backgrounds. If you are using someone else’s images (such as scrapbook paper), make sure you’re altering it to make it yours. (More on the topic of copyright and fair use in collage art later!)
What do you fear, in art or business or life? How can you transform your fear into curiosity, openness, and growth?
Think about it. Then do it.
I would add one more to that list: 6. Let go and trust God.
What’s on your list for a happy life?
[From Pinterest; original source unknown. If you know where this is from, please advise so I can give credit.]
Sometimes, when you’re having a challenging week, you just need to hear some truth that’s good for your mind, body, and soul.
Happy Wednesday, my dears.
After a summer hiatus (read: my entire studio was packed up in boxes while we were away for two months and then moved to California) I’m so excited to be re-opening my Etsy shop! Not only are original commissions available (using your favorite quotes or photos) but there are also tons of great affordable art prints at $18. And greeting cards will be available soon…stay tuned!
As a thank-you to my lovely readers, I’m giving away one print of your choice from my shop! There are two ways to enter (feel free to do both!):
1. Leave a comment below and share your favorite quote – is it a song lyric? Line from a poem? Quote from a movie? Something funny that your best friend said?
2. Tweet about the giveaway using this link (and leave a comment saying that you tweeted it).
The contest will close Friday September 2 at midnight PDT, and the winner will be announced Monday September 5. Ready? GO!
And psst…save 15% off your order between now and September 30 with code SEPT15OFF. Check out the shop here and spread the word about the discount code (click here to tweet it)!