Ever so often I hear some of my artist friends coming with a new interesting idea. Which is, of course, great. But sometimes, they get stuck and even if they work out the idea, they get stuck in publishing it, showing it around, making it available for the audience. If you've ever did something serious in the realm of arts, you probably know the feeling. You were worried whether somebody will steal the idea.
Of course they will. If you're any good, that is. If you're not, you're more or less safe, but in that case, you have a much bigger problem than that slim chance of somebody copying your work.
We all steal ideas from each other. Constantly. It started in a cave dozens of thousands of years ago. One artist stole the idea from the hunting story and drew it on the cave wall. Or it was a story teller that stole the idea from the painting on the wall. We're not sure which one was first but it goes on ever since.
That's called the exchange of the ideas, and it's the main pillar of the whole culture. By art we communicate. And any good communication goes in both directions. We hear and see what others are telling and we show and tell what we think and feel. Our culture is not a pile of disconnected pieces. More likely, we take from each other, we transform and build upon it and we give it away for the others to continue the process. It's an endless game of taking and giving.
photo by Jimmy Jim Jim Shabadoo
But there are also people who just steal, not giving anything of their own. They're trying to become rich and famous by taking the credit of somebody more talented and creative. Copycats is the name. But are they any threat to the real artist? Hardly so. Yeah, they might get lucky and leave the original artist in the shadow. It happened more than once in the history.
In that case, you messed your marketing. You might hate to hear it, but marketing – making yourself known, recognized and popular – is a part of your job as an artist. If you think otherwise, reconsider your idea of sitting in your secluded atelier and creating things that will, by some magic, find their own way to the audience. At some point you'll hopefully have some kind of agent that will worry about that more than you, but even then, you'll have to do your part of it. And, not only that good marketing puts your work in the eyesight of the audience, it protects you from copycats. I can do Mona Lisa but nobody will believe I'm Leonardo.
There is one more thing. If you have one good idea that's been put into realization, you'll have a dozen more. Otherwise, that one won't make you much of an artist. Everybody has at least one interesting idea in their lifetime. It's not a big deal. It's the realization of it that makes you an artist. And then, one idea leads to another… and another.. and another. It's the whole opus, the whole set of your ideas that defines you as an artist, not a single hit. So stop wasting your time and energy worrying about copycats and do your job.