By: Rick Rotante
It would be arrogant and narcissistic to assert that any artist today is so because he / she figured it out all on their own. Even an art form / style that may not be in vogue or viewed as worthwhile is derived from what has come before. The added fact the tools we use are the same is further evidence, to me, that we learn from those who have come before. I can state with certainty I have picked up my share of methods and techniques from many other artists both living and dead.
If you live on this planet, you will be influenced by what has come before. Even if you are secluded away without mass media or newspapers, I believe your art would reflect the world you live in then resemble some form or configuration seen before. Consequently it would not be justly deemed original.
One underlying fact is that we all take information, sift it, absorb what works then use what ability we were endowed to try and use the information to say something worthwhile. Even art that is not intended to be informative or instructive but just playful says something.
Art is a way to communicate. Its one fundamental way humans have tried to outlive their existence and become immortal as far back as the cavemen/women who left behind impressions of their world. We are doing nothing more than they. Communication is at the very heart of all art.
When you factor into the equation commerce then things change. Selling is important on many levels today but the underlying issue for many artists is profoundly to transmit an idea of what they see and/or believe. This is what we try and do every day of our life when creating “original” art.
Even the child with his/her first paint set will put down what they believe to be an idea of the world. It may not be coherent or well-constructed due to the fact they haven’t developed the ability to fully express it. Yet it will be an impression or facsimile of what is already known.
Which brings me to the word “original.” In a creative sense, what does original mean?
Can we even identify anything as not being derivative, a variation or permutation of something that has come previously? Figuratively speaking, we are all cut ostensibly from the same genetic cloth. Regardless of origin, area of birth, physical makeup, we all have the same brain with relatively the sameness makeup and connections to our world. We are humans.
A person or persons from an as yet unknown or discovered civilization will still be “human” to get to the root of it. Hence, they will possess the same characteristics as you or me and thus see the world albeit with some differences, but they will record what they see and think.
I may seem to be going too far from my central point, but I don’t think so.
Who among us can say they possess THE original idea?