Stephen Travers Art

Things I’ve Learnt About Drawing #6

Stephen Travers

It’s not Really Helpful to Copy Other Artworks.

 This Blog presupposes you’ve read the one immediately before, so if you haven’t, off you go now…

 OK, as the previous  Blog discussed, an artwork can be thought of as an artist translating a 3D object into a 2D format.  This requires a creative process of choosing how the various 3D elements  will be represented in the 2D format. These choices possibly require  at least as much creativity as the actual technical skill in using the chosen media. It’s why it’s easier to copy from a photograph than from life – it is a 2D to 2D copy, rather than a 3D to 2D one.

 When I see an artwork I am seeing that artist’s solutions to all these ‘translation’ issues. When I copy their work, I simply copy all these solutions without having to go through the skill, hard work, and creativity of thinking them out.  It’s a bit like inherited wealth.  It’s great, but having it doesn’t in itself make you capable of creating more wealth yourself.

 Exact copying of another artist’s artwork can be helpful, in a limited way, in working on some technical skills, because it allows focus on those skills without the burden and time of solving all the creative problems of representation.  But the ability to copy another artist’s work can create a misleading sense of how far along I have come in my own creative journey.  That can be discouraging.  And it’s not the skill I really want to develop.

 I have many artists whose work inspires me.  Some I just enjoy, with others I wish to use their work to inform my own work.  The most helpful way I have found to do this is to identify which elements of their work I’m wanting to incorporate in some way in my work, and then choose a theme which is similar to theirs, to make it easier to integrate. The integration of these elements with my own current style is in fact, a further creative step in my own creativity, not an appropriation of theirs. I’ve borrowed, but I’ve made it mine, and I’m able to keep making it mine.

 Hope it makes sense to you.