And when does it border on copying?
The million dollar question, huh? How does one become inspired? True, pretty and creative things abound and, of course, you have the treasure trove of resources known as Tumbler and Pinterest as well as Instagram. I myself oscillate between the latter two all the time. On top of that, we also print options and style portals and more. Resources are practically at the tip of our fingers.
But if you really want to get into the nitty gritty of things, such as what inspires whom, who inspires the other, let’s call it “inspiration hunting“, for lack of a better phrase, that’s when it takes on a different tone. That’s when things become a smidge more serious. And rightly so since this is one of the most constant topics of debate within the design and creative arts world. The blogosphere included.
How, or rather, where does one even begin to draw the line between “inspiration” and “emulation” or “imitation” or “homage“? Take for instance this post you’re reading right this moment. It isn’t unique. I doubt it’s the first time you’ve come across someone poring forth their thoughts on the matter, is it? I’ll wager you might even already have covered this very same subject yourself. I ask you, what is original anymore? Or perhaps the better question to ask would be is originality even important? I’d like to think so. Life would be rather mundane otherwise.
Let’s get one thing straight. In all truthfulness, I think imitation has its place.
Think about it. “Repeat after me” is a viable method of teaching and learning. It’s what we’ve been indoctrinated from the moment we started learning, and it’s what our children (and likely theirs too) are exposed to on a daily basis. At its core, it’s a survivalist method of exploration, as in practice via the process of versioning. So too in our field, art education teaches us to copy under the guise of perfecting the technique or mastering a move.
However, once we move onto professional terrain, this is when imitation gets dicey (naturally) and raises some debate (alongside eyebrows) over original ownership of ideas. Say you see what someone else is doing, fawn over what an amazing idea it is, and then go away to produce your rendition of the content. Does that mean the end results are yours and yours alone? Or ought you credit the person who idea inspired yours? And if you do acknowledge them, is it as “inspired by” or are you, horror of horrors, no more than a copycat? I honestly do not have an answer because I honestly am not sure. What I do know with dead certainty is that this ambiguity can make things (read: our social media-driven world) not so fun because copying happens. It really does. Call it zeitgeist, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want but let’s be real. It happens all the time. Which annoys the hell out of me.
So, for what it’s worth, my two cents on “inspiration hunting“.
TREAD LIGHTLY AND THINK CRITICALLY
Pretty things are easy to find, and equally easy duplicate. The operative word here being “easy“. And what that ultimately translates into is an uninspiring end product. An unoriginal (but admittedly fully functional) product. Let me throw in some words from Zac Posen from his Project Runway days, “chic banal“.
No, pretty is not enough. Look behind the pretty. Question why, how that person came up with that idea? Dissect it. Mull it over. Put it back together. Rinse and repeat. I promise, this will go a long way towards ensuring you don’t piggyback on someone else’s idea, but instead, appreciate the process they went through and allow it to inspire your own. I present the idea that the practice of making observations and asking questions has the power to help you uncover the opportunities and needs that can lead to great creative work.
When they say curiosity goes hand-in-hand with creativity, this is exactly why. For a creative person, inspiration-hunting is not so much an activity as it is a learned manner of thinking about everything around at all times. This helps to find space for something new. Wiggle room in the universe, if you will. When I’m thinking of what to write next for the blog, I hunt around for a need, and then I try to find an interesting way to address that need through the written word. In fact, 95% of what you find here was thought of with “need” as a catalyst. Need is indeed inspiring.
And you know what else I find most inspiring? The women I’ve met and formed bonds with in the world of blogging. Which brings me to the other (equally) vital part of today’s post. A special collaboration between friends (and child whom I worship as a style goddess in her own right), featuring that divine little accent piece known as the choker.
As I said, this woman-child is a trailblazer. I don’t think there’s ever been a moment when I’ve questioned Eve’s sartorial choices but rather, often turn to her for opinions and tips. It’s true. She has inspired me so much in listening to my own voice and not paying heed to what the rest of the style world is
saying dictating. I suppose you could call her my muse. And I suppose you could also surmise I covet her multi-wrap choker ever so much!!!
Shelbee (shelbee on the edge)
In Shelbee, I’ve found not merely a kindred wordsmith but also someone unafraid to talk about the darker side of herself, even as fashion and style play integral parts in all her posts. To delve into the emotional and the mental, topics which aren’t typically shared in a blog, and I love her for that. And does not her outfit play up that contrast of light and dark? Especially that choker with its goth-esque vibe?
Debbie (fashion fairy dust)
I don’t know how else to describe Debbie save that she inspires me on so many levels, I’ve stopped counting. From her crisp, pragmatic yet optimistic outlook on life to her raw honesty and the ability to put herself under the microscope with each post. I mean, I shan’t lie, I’m also immensely inspired by her wardrobe and her style aesthetics and her hair, wouldn’t you? Especially when she looks as badass as she does right now with those chokers?
Lisa (the sequinist)
Meet Lisa. I don’t visit her blog as often as I should (but I will) yet she is never far from my mind. The way she writes. Presents her thoughts. She is what I would call a very classy dame. And I think that’s what I find most inspiring about her. The elegance she exudes (and I don’t mean just from her outfits) is so contagious that I find myself aspiring to be quite as poised, I really do. Even her choker is the most dainty, delicate piece ever.
Me (sheela writes)
And there’s me. Enjoying my ménage à trois of chokers in a myriad of ways since variety is the spice of life. Cough. I don’t know if I inspire anyone but I do know that everything I think, write, wear, is a hodgepodge of inspiration culled from everyone in my life, and I thank you for that.
Concluding on the topic of inspiration, did I say too much? I hope not. After all, creativity is really problem solving. It’s meant to be sticky and challenging and mind-bending. No one is perfect and imitative mistakes happen, but as long as we recognise that it’s part of the journey of learning a skill or stretching a talent, I think that’s the most important thing.
Don’t you agree?
Finally made the transition to AV and am now on YouTube as well as Snapchat (sheela.goh), would adore your support through subscribing to my channel/adding my snaps.
p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa
I link up here.