When does inspiration cross the line into imitation? When is it okay to copy someone else’s work? These questions have been on my mind a lot lately because of a recent experience. This post isn’t specifically about blogging, but I think that it should be addressed anyways. Inspiration vs imitation.
1. It is never okay to copy someone’s creative work. Ever.
Not in blogging, not in photography, not in any business. Not only is it extremely unprofessional, it’s stealing. You are stealing someone’s creative intellect. I’m not talking about reading and looking at someone else’s work and deciding that you want to recreate a recipe or image composition. I’m talking about taking something “word for word” and then putting out the idea as your own and not giving someone else credit. Let’s not even go into the copyright infringement portion of this topic… You could get your butt sued. Don’t do it. EVER!
2. Be inspired, but don’t imitate.
Although imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, sometimes it just flat out sucks for the person you’re imitating. You don’t want to be Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character from Single White Female. Be you. Be unique. I find inspiration in everything I see, but I don’t go out to recreate the same exact image or idea and say that it’s mine. Give yourself and those who inspire you a little credit. You both deserve it.
3. Build or seek a community of creativity.
Craft & DIY bloggers support each other almost as much as fitness bloggers. ***Tangent***Have you read fitness blogs? I love how much they support each other! What I’m trying to say is, seek out those with similar interests. I have a group of photographer friends (some are my business competition) and guess what? We talk about editing, session ideas, posing, geeky stuff and location ideas all the time. They’re my people. Being around creative people increases my creativity and they inspire me constantly. I have never met most of my bloggy friends in real life, but I love “talking” with them virtually. I love when someone else loves playing with glitter as much as I do.
All that being said, in this day and age of technology, it’s hard to be 100% innovative. The web is so over saturated with information. I nearly blogged about something I created for my desk, only to realize that another blogger posted a similar project just a week before. I never posted the project because I didn’t want others to think I copied her idea. The truth is, like minds think alike. You’re bound to put something out there (especially if you’re in the business of creativity) that’s similar to someone else’s work. It’s almost inevitable. Just don’t blatantly copy someone’s work intentionally. That’s different.
Don’t stage a photo of a brownie that looks exactly like someone else’s photo right down to the fonts, colors and recipe. Don’t do it. Don’t steal someone’s written work and claim it as your own. Not cool. Finding your own style and creativity often takes time, a lot of practice and sometimes a few blunders. Mary Lou Cook said it best, “Creativity is innovation, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”
Be you. Be unique.