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How to get inspired without copying?

Updated: Dec 2, 2020


The fine line between taking inspiration and more prosaically copying is a controversial issue that is particularly felt for those who work with images or more generally with creativity.

But let's make a small premise.

If in the past it was more difficult to be influenced by the ideas or creations of others today the constant "bombardment of images" makes creative originality more vulnerable. Not only on the streets but also and above all on TV / network, and for the latter we think of social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest which are real “image factories”.

The addiction to images makes it increasingly difficult to amaze us; If this sort of iconographic bulimia makes it difficult to capture our attention, it becomes a great obstacle to the work of artists and advertisers.


Each image that we display is an icon in most cases technically reproducible according to the lesson of Walter Benjamin.


But the problem of the reproducibility of the work of art at a certain point of contemporaneity arose with the "Fake industry".

The phenomenon of counterfeiting, starting from a certain point, has assumed such gigantic proportions as to put the world legal industry market in fibrillation. In particular, Chinese counterfeit products seem to be the most widespread to the point that today the Asian Giant is commonly considered the world capital of counterfeiting.


The issue also involved the world of art, invaded by an immeasurable quantity of faithful copies of well-known masterpieces throughout the world. The phenomenon, however, also exerts a certain charm, especially in certain contexts in which copies are not passed off as originals but as reproductions of skilled Chinese artists who operate as real professional copiers. There is a city in China, Shenzhen, which has turned the production of fakes into a workforce. There is a village there, Dafen, known by many as the village of the copyists of art. It is a huge open-air factory aimed at creating and consequently selling copies of paintings by great masters of the history of art. Like a gigantic workshop, young artisans live and work, reproducing hundreds of the Mona Lisa and Sunflowers day by day.


This also helps to undermine the contemporary artist who, on the one hand, cultivates a deep desire to create something new and original but on the other hand has to deal with a society that feeds the reproduction / counterfeiting market; Preferring perhaps the reproduction of the Mona Lisa or a counterfeit bag versus a modern artwork or original bag.


So when the artist goes down the path of creativity he is faced with some dilemmas, during the conception phase he will ask himself if his inspiration is truly authentic or influenced by something he has already seen or in some way perceived.

So the artist will find himself facing the frustration of "it has already been done" that occurs when you think you have had an original idea and it turns out that instead of original it is not and surprisingly that idea has already been realized.


The question, therefore, arises as to which is the way of originality in the context of contemporaneity.


Perhaps a first awareness from which to start is that it is impossible to remain impervious to the works of other artists or to accept that "almost everything" has already been thought / created. The creative should therefore tend to think / realize it better.

If it is very difficult not to start from something that "has already been done" you can give it a different meaning, you can venture new perspectives and try to realize them according to the taste and style that we have built over the years and that distinguishes us.

The creative therefore renounce an absolute originality in order to tend to create new correspondences that know how to give a new meaning to something that has already been thought.


Artsy Editorial and Arnold, F. (2017). This Village Used to Make 60% of the World’s Paintings—Now Its Future Is in Jeopardy. [online] Artsy. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-village-60-worlds-paintings-future-jeopardy [Accessed 2 Dec. 2020].

Arnott, M. and Arnott, M. (2010). Margaret Arnott: Counterfeit Goods. [online] Margaret Arnott: Counterfeit Goods | LS:N Global. Available at: https://www.lsnglobal.com/opinion/article/20418/margaret-arnott-counterfeit-goods [Accessed 2 Dec. 2020].


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