To the Artists and Critics,
What is art? Is it something the artist feels or is it his attempt to recreate what he sees? I believe a good place to start would be to define art as the “artist’s order of things”. The artist takes a number of things, like paint, pixels, words, or actual objects, and organizes them in some sort of way, randomly or deliberately. This should encompass every kind of art, whether it attempts to accurately paint a scene, takes creative liberty, or is abstract beyond comprehension.
I say this to help remind you that creativity is not the same as originality. Being creative means simply putting things together while originality is making something unique. While being original is good, we must be careful in our pursuit of originality that we do not crush creativity.
Consider Legos. These are miniature toys and blocks used to build other toys. They come in sets with instructions on how a set is assembled, allowing a little child to replicate it. When the child finishes the set, it is not original, but it is an accomplishment and something that makes a child happy. Likewise, if a child sees a set and builds it without the instructions, then it is a greater accomplishment. Then, if you have played with Legos know, the child will take pieces from different sets and create his own set. This is how creativity and originality work.
The artist can only use what he is given; those are the Lego pieces. In his training, he is given the instructions, which teach him how to put things together to make certain objects or designs. As he obtains more sets, learning various techniques, he is able to mix them together, taking the pieces he like, eventually crafting a unique set that he can claim to be his. Part of the beauty of Legos is that this happens. A child can take a ninja and give it a green lightsaber to fight against cowboys. They can practice storytelling by explaining why it makes sense, like a ninja obviously uses the Force for his amazing jumping ability and so is naturally a Japanese Jedi. Or the child can simply not care, but enjoy the fun of the world he has crafted and it is good.
Sometimes we only see how something is the same as another and we neglect it is still a work of creation. Just because two children used the same pieces for the base, doesn’t mean their work isn’t good. Likewise, if a child uses his first creation as the basis of the second, it is not enough to criticize the second, especially if it’s part of a series in his mind. Condemning a work because both are simply using a ninja with a lightsaber against cowboys would be an injustice. It ignores the rest of the set, including the child’s story for the set. It is good simply for being a work of creation. It is great if it can be enjoyed.
I say to you that if you want to be creative, do not disregard copying as purely evil. Everyone must do it to a certain extent. Sometimes the best works depend on copying something as a base. It is also necessary for the practice to be able to craft your own creation. If everything created needed to be original, there would be no creativity. So remember this: Whatever is created is art, regardless if the idea was already used.
From the Creative Juices of