How To Be Inspired By But Not Copy Other Artists

This piece is a new exploration and also a bit of a revelation! In this one painting I see elements of influence. I see ideas gleaned from many different artists that I admire and ideas from my own experience and experimentation. I want to use this painting as an example of how to be inspired by but not copy other artists. Also known as….how to find your own style.

What About Copying?

We all begin by copying. That’s how we learn! Copying to learn is okay, but copying to sell as your own work is another story. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. In school we were all taught to write using copy work, but when it came time to compose our own essay, copying was a no-no. It’s called plagiarism. The same is true for artists! We learn by copy work, and when we are ready, we compose our own unique piece of work!

Is this really a big deal? Yeah…yeah it is. Not only is it unethical and illegal to copy another artists work and pass it off as your own, why would you NOT want to have your own distinct style that makes you stand out and be unique?

How To Be Inspired

So how do we do this? How do we take in inspiration and use it without being a copy-cat? Let me give you some examples of artists who have inspired me and show you how their influence has shaped my own work.

I was introduced to collage work by Kelly Rae Roberts. I love the background work of Lauren Dunn. The work of Susie Pryor inspired me to begin painting with a palette knife, and the work of Vicki Sawyer gave me permission to add a little whimsy to my work. (And there are so many other artists that I love to study! These are just a few.)

You can see some of all of these ideas in my pink rose piece pictured above. Collage work, palette knife strokes, whimsy, and the blocked in background are all there. The key to being inspired by but not copying other artists is this…you choose the bits and pieces that you like from other artists, from your own trial and error, from your own experience, from your own environment and put it all together to create something that ONLY YOU CAN CREATE! Isn’t that idea exciting!? You are the only one who can create what you can create!

You Already Have Your Own Style

When we take our own unique experience, put it on canvas, and allow ourselves permission to be different… we find our own style. No one else in the world has the exact same experiences, influences, and ideas that you have.

Your artwork can be as unique as you are. Your one-of-a-kind style is inside you right now. You just have to be brave enough to let it out, and share it with the world!

I hope this encourages you to take a look at what you are creating as an artist and pushes you to search for what you might be holding back that is just YOU.

Practice. Play. Experiment.

Find the elements that make you happy and add them to your work!

You won’t regret it!

4 Responses

  1. Melissa Ellington

    This is something all aspiring artists struggle with…finding our own style! I am the daughter of an amazing watercolorist. Her work is well known in our area. I have worked in watercolor and “my style” is not as detailed as Mom’s and it is really hard to not compare my work to hers. So…I started working in acrylics some several years ago and it feels more like ME. I still do watercolors…just keep them simple the way I like them! I have several favorite artists and like their art for different reasons. I have really enjoyed learning with you and this group of talented artists. I just try to use what I learn in different ways and add my own touches. I am a retired teacher and I hope to be able to inspire others in their art adventures.

    • Amanda Hilburn

      I totally agree, Melissa 🙂 You do YOU!

    • Barb Reckart

      Great article!! I get lots of compliments because I am different. As much as I would love better sales most of my pride is in what I create and the process.