Before trying to find out where the thin line between inspiration and plagiarism lies, it is important to realize one thing: copying is as old as we (humans) are. This is what we do and this is how we learn: we watch what the others are doing and then we imitate them. We move forward by making improvements and introducing adjustments but, in fact, no creative work would ever be done without copying first. Now, if you think this is an excuse good enough to copy other artists as much as you like, you better know that you are wrong. Because our natural and subconscious tendency to copy is one thing and a conscious creative or artistic process is something completely different.
Inspiration is good. And important.
We all need inspiration, no matter who we are and what we do. But inspiration is something elusive and maybe this is why it’s important role sometimes is being overlooked by people obsessed by uniqueness and originality. Some people believe that in order to create, the inspiration has to come from a totally uncommon idea; something that no one has ever thought of before. Yet, when you look at the creators of the greatest art, inventions and ideas, you will see it is quite the opposite.
You are getting influenced by the surrounding world and there is no way to avoid it. Your creativity is not coming out of the blue, it is being born from all the things you have seen and experienced so far, also from the art you admire and from the people you respect and interact with. As an artist, you can’t help but be inspired by other artists – and there is a big chance that you will inspire others in return.
You might want to check our earlier post 40 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY.
Plagiarism is bad
Plagiarism has very little to do with inspiration. While inspiration opens new doors to you, shows you new possibilities and gives you motivation to go beyond your everyday routines and limitations, plagiarism only confines you to reproducing the things that have already been done. And you also have to realize that copying other artists’ ideas or designs in order to gain profit or fame is nothing else than theft.
Although sometimes it may look like the easy way out, or a way for you to show off and seem smarter and more talented than your fellow artists, plagiarism is in fact very destructive to your artistic career. It can have consequences you have never thought of and may cost you a lot. First, by simply copying you do not move forward in any way. You miss opportunities to learn and practice new skills, you also miss chances to receive honest feedback on your own work. And if you get caught your integrity and artistic performance will be questioned, and your good name will be lost.
Really, honesty is much better a way for an artist, even though the results sometimes come later and can be less spectacular.