The secret to your beginning development as an artist and photographer is to IMITATE artists you admire.
Where did anti imitation come from?
To start, modern society is anti imitation when it comes from art. We are told to be “original” and not copy each other.
Think about it. We get expelled if we copy another students test. We cannot copy the argument of another person, nor can we copy their text (this is called “plagiarizing”).
With the internet, we are told NOT to copy files, or share music or stuff.
Even copyright law is anti-sharing.
We disdain copies
To imitate someone else, you are called a “poser” or a fake. Nobody likes copied designer goods. We would prefer the “original” or the “authentic”.
Plato didn’t believe in artists or poets
But let’s take it further back. All modern philosophy comes more or less from Plato. Personally, I don’t like Plato. Why? He was a bit of a philosophical tyrant. He wasn’t very open-minded to the ideas of others.
If you study “mimesis”, let me try to break down the argument against imitation:
- Plato says in his book “Ion” that poetry is the art of “divine madness”. Therefore, poetry is not “true knowledge”, because one needs to be 100% “rational” and “logical” to discover the “real truth.”
- Therefore, poets and artists do NOT possess real knowledge.
- Poets and artists find inspiration from nature, and other human beings. Therefore, poets and artists find inspiration for their art through IMITATION of other humans, or nature.
- Therefore, because poets and artists IMITATE false sources of “truth”— they should be ignored.
- The only “truth” exists with philosophers, or according to Plato, his theory and philosophy on “forms, rationality, and Apollonian Logic.”
I might be misinterpreting Plato, but whatever. Let’s move on.
Aristotle and imitation
Let’s move onto Aristotle, a warm philosopher I quite like.
Aristotle said that all art is an imitation of nature. Therefore, I think centuries of artists just tried to imitate nature… by painting realistic landscapes, still lives, and animals.
Remix the past.
To skip more ahead, somewhere along the way (if you study Dionysian Imitatio) the view shifted from “imitating nature” to “imitating other artists”.
The theory was this:
Rather than being “original” in your work, just seek to imitate other artists, but take your work to the next level.
The way I think:
Find inspiration in the past artists you admire, and don’t just copy them 100%. Rather, remix, and ADD to the work of the artists who came before you.
Therefore friend, seek to IMITATE the artists you admire. See how they saw. Seek what they sought. Then, remix their art. Sample their inspirations, and ADD to their legacy, and create your own legacy.
- Trace the work of artists you like via tablet, phone, or with tracing paper. I use iPad and Procreate. Understand the composition of artists you like, then integrate it into your own art.
- Fuck originality; seek to be good. If anyone tells you that you copied someone else, smile and say: “Wow, thank you for putting my name and their name in the same sentence! It is a huge compliment!”
- Give credit where credit is due. This will allow others to see where you got inspired from. Don’t hoard your sources of inspiration. Share it, be open.
Who are some artists you seek to imitate, but improve upon? Share your sources of inspiration to ERIC KIM FORUM.