It’s about inspiration, not duplication

Recently there seems to be an unpleasant and somewhat un-noticed by mainstream rumbling of issues regarding “infringement” in my world. I’ve heard of people copying the work of others, using the work of others without permission and others frustrated with others. That’s a lot of “others” . What happened to what inspires the creativity?


What inspires creativity


Well that’s where the confusion sets in. Where is the line between  inspiration and copying or using without permission? It’s really not a complicated line once you know where it is and how it looks. The real nuts and bolts is, if you didn’t originally think of it, come up with your own original thinking to create it. When it comes to art, this means, if you like how an image looks, admire it, hang it on your wall, but don’t try to draw it exactly. Make your own cute bear, don’t copy Winnie-the-Pooh. Let Winnie inspire you, not drive your view.

Ok, maybe that’s still a bit vague. Think of this… No one can own a concept. However, they can own the result of their original creation of a concept. So, for example, although I have a gazillion variations of cartoon penguins, I can’t own the concept of a cartoon penguin. I can only own the way my specific penguin looks… in “interpretation” of a penguin. If someone else wants to make a penguin, cool, do it! I hope I inspire one that is fabulously fun. But, please don’t trace mine or mimic mine or even try to duplicate mine in some way… not to mention, please don’t use my actual penguin art. Instead, create your own. If you must have one just like mine, ask me, I might be willing to make you one, sell you one, license the use or just let you use it… but the permission starts with the request. If you use it without asking , I can’t give you permission, then we could end up in a situation neither one of us like.

Enough of the legal-ish summary.

What really inspires my art? I’m pretty sure I’ve answered this question from some angle or another before – maybe that was just in my head, I do like to talk to myself a bit. However I’m happy to say it out loud again in case you missed it, or really I was the only one in the room. I’ll point out where the inspirations live in my own art.

A few of my favorite artists:

Art by Leonardo da Vinci
Art by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci inspired my love for sketch work, details and observation. He created so many amazing works in so many incredible directions yet his style is consistent. He sketched everything he saw, not necessarily as a drawing practice session, but more for a purpose of documenting what he saw. I think the way we draw has a way of sharing how we see the world… sometimes. I don’t see everything with literal grins and giggles on them. I do however like to think that there’s a lot of potential for moments of happiness all around us, if we stop to notice once in a while.

Art by Ty Wilson
Art by Ty Wilson

Ty Wilson has a talent for less is more and from the moment I first saw his work I was in awe. Every line has a purpose and every line displays emotion. Much of his work has a vibrant jazzy feel, yet the pieces I love the most are the couples. They dance, they embrace, they love each other and you can see it, almost feel it in every image. He uses color sparingly but with purpose. His work speaks to the viewers emotions.

Art by Sandra Boynton
Art by Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton just makes me laugh. I love the random grins and silly expressions. She adds the fun of silliness to reality… she isn’t making up creatures, she’s stylizing real things in her world, cows, chickens, dancing hippos. Her style is simple but full of personality. I’m sure she could write a book without any words and it would still be hilarious. I also love her artistic technique… it looks to me like she uses markers to create her images, and art markers are my favorite tool (Prisma colors, if you need specifics). I also love Sandra’s story of success, she’s done it herself while staying true to herself.

Art by Mary Englebreit
Art by Mary Englebreit

Mary Engelbreit needs to be included because she brings me back to where I am as a professional. She is an inspiration from a commercial perspective for me. I love her fun art style, but what I appreciated at an early age was how no matter where you went, you could find her art to purchase. As much as I loved the concept, I never really thought others would want my art in their house as much as I would want to see my art in their house. Every time I get a note from a fan or a recent customer I am giddy with excitement all over again. It’s inspiring to have others like something I created all myself.

Can you see the commonalities yet? From my perspective it’s in the simplicity and the unnecessary fluff that I find these artist  so appealing. Ironically, my own art has fluff here and there… but I like the texture the fluff creates… that’s the “ME” coming through in my own art.

In the end, we each learn and create from what we’ve learned and experienced. If you love something someone else has created so much that you want to make it yourself… you should instead try making your own rendition and sharing that for others to love as well. If you want to talk about something someone else created, always make sure to give credit where credit is due. We can’t be successful without the creations AND the people that love them, so we need to work together to share in the joy of the creativity.

19 thoughts on “It’s about inspiration, not duplication”

  1. Wow Jen, you are one busy gal! I enjoyed reading your message and look forward to more discussions. I almost used Mary Englebreit as my inspiration, a long time fav!

  2. Jen, this is a wonderful post. I applaud your choice of artists that inspire you and enjoy how you’ve identified their influences in your dynamic work!

  3. Hi Jennifer – thanks for sharing. Sandra Boynton has been a hero of mine since childhood!! When Mum first gave me one of her cat cards for my birthday, I had to have one of her cards every year for as long as I can remember.

  4. What an excellent post with such great fun inspirations you shared about! BTW….My son is a penguin kind of kid and I was showing him how cute yours are.

  5. Jen, I love your inspiration picks and wonderful descriptions of their work and why they are significant to you. Sandra Boynton is one that my whole family gets a good laugh from and has enhanced many a good night story time at my house. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Bravo, well said. I always give credit whenever I am inspired by something. That goes for crafts and food! I don’t understand those that feel the need to take credit for something they did not create on their own.

  7. Jen, what a wonderful range of inspiration. There is so much in this life to express people are cheating themselves and others when they don’t dig up that individual creativity. We have everything to gain as a generation who embraces that originality. Thanks for bringing it to light!

  8. Great post and I think you hit the point about educating people. There will always be those who copy regardless… but there’s also a lot of folks who just don’t understand what you can or cannot do. Perhaps the internet has sort of created a weird mindset of just find stuff and grab it – you know?

    Love your list of inspirations…I have Sandra Boynton and Mary Engelbreit on my admiration board. I love the fact that they created thriving businesses out of their love and stayed true to their own style of art. It’s fabulous!

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