Where Did Originality Go?
The other day, I was perusing Instagram and I had a stark realization and question: where did originality go? In truth, I have been asking this question for sometime, especially when it comes to creative ideas. In this digital age of sharing (and oversharing) it seems like the mystique on how things are created has worn-off and given way to individuals sharing their processes and essentially creating copy cats out of their work which was at one point, original.
One of the quotes that I live by is by the great poet Maya Angelou who said, “When you get, give and when you learn, teach.” I think that sharing information is incredibly helpful, it can break barriers, show how things are done and can in a way save a lot of anguish and struggle. I wish many times that I had known how to do X,Y or Z so that I could have saved a lot of time or errors, but sometimes it is best to find your own way.
But what about when it comes to what makes you or your work original and authentically yours?
I highly doubt that Jeff Koons is teaching strangers his art form so that it could be directly copied or Alice Waters is teaching strangers her recipes so that they could be deemed theirs and not hers. If so, they could be sued for copyright infringement.
Today, there are so many direct copies out there. Photographers sell their Lightroom presets and there are expensive retreats being offered that promise that you can ‘do it just like us!’. Don’t get me wrong, basic training is very helpful, yes, but exact replication, no.
What this essentially does it that for the person teaches, it dilutes their work and for the person learning, it inhibits them from discovering their own voice which could be original and inspiring.
Photography by Alison Engstrom