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Author Topic: Imitation is indeed the path to innovation  (Read 194 times)

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Offline eldritchmaestro

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Imitation is indeed the path to innovation
« on: October 01, 2018, 06:32:39 AM »
Wisdom from an odd but understandeable direction that could apply to our manga and anime interests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmLQgYEOIJk

So the great rapper Eminem learnt to rap by 'copying' other rappers' styles and 'studying' them.

I put those two words in quotation marks because 1. They can be replaced with the words 'tracing', 'referencing', 'imitating'. Which tells you how appliceable this method can be to an artist and writer and

2. These words have a negative connotation to them - at least in my mind, and how they are used when given as advice to other novices.

I'll elaborate on the 2nd bit first:

"Huh... So you copied everything I guess..."

When people say 'copy' one immediately thinks of plaigarism or low handed methods to pass off somebody elses style as your own. Theft, that is. That's what the world has become on the interwebs. It's definitely the vibe I felt whenever I thought of the word, but I've come to realize there is simply no way to develop a style or interest in a vacuum. We are constantly influenced by what we read and see, we are constantly influenced by the era we live in. At some point in time painting things in 3d was seen as occult. Cavemen could definitely see 3d, but at the time as the progenitors of art they depicted things in symbols.
      That means even if you adamantly decide to make your own studies and stay away from references and copying your favourite artists or inspirations, you're still being influenced by your circumstances. Indeed, you are crippling yourself by trying actively to take any fun out of the process, and if fun isn't your motivation, then it's definitely accuracy to the real world.
     In the end you'll need to measure something that is external from yourself, take notes of it and learn to draw exactly like that. Whether it's Bugs-Bunny or the musculature of an athlete, you'll always have to reference and/or copy something. So do it. Shamelessly, even.

"Make sure you study Colour Theory and Form and Function"

Now 'studying'. It's usually given as advice as a heavy handed way to tell you 'You think life is easy? You have to sit behind a desk with a lamp and spend 6 hours a night dissecting an art topic to truly be able to learn it and be a good artist'. At least, that's the vibe I always got from such advice. I'm not saying studying something is simple and can be done while you're not paying attention, I'm saying that it's not as complicated as it's sold to be.
     It's as simple as enjoying a song and writing out the lyrics in your book. It's as simple as screwing around and rewriting the lyrics or stitching them together in another song, or making a cover song. Or drawing a ninja turtle with super saiyan hair. Studying need not be a dry lifeless thing devoid of creativity. It need not be a high-browed academic thing done in a library, it can very much be a part of your every day interests.


So basically, imitation is definitely the path to innovation. Don't be complicated about it all, just do what you normally do to pass the time, and add a little attention to it in the form of taking notes and/or just directly copying something. Art theft and plaigarism are obvious in of themselves. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know which artist or writer is trying to steal someone's efforts and which one is simply enjoying a medium (Hint Hint, it has something to do with how you use your work and/or share it. And intentions.)


As for the fact that even a rapper learns by rapping like other rappers (gawd was that grammatically correct?) Then that means there's a fun and grand truth to all disciplines and hobbies across the board: A writer learns by writing like other writers. An artist learns by arting like other artists (okay arting is definitely not a word) e.t.c

Don't let yourself be scared off or held down by the same mental restriction that I killed some years off of my art growth with because I was trying to aim for some ridiculous standard of individuality. As said before, no matter what sort of person you are, whether you're someone who prefers to be flexible and focuses on having fun or someone who wants to be studious about their craft, you'll have to definitely, without question look at something, copy it, reference it, imitate it as well as you want and can before you use it for your own pieces of art.


My two agorot

Offline suupertramp

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Re: Imitation is indeed the path to innovation
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2018, 10:47:35 AM »
Quote
"Huh... So you copied everything I guess..."
Sums up my art at least :P
One of my many goals which I don't mention very much because it sounds kinda arrogant is that I want to be able to imitate all my favourite artists' styles so good it's almost indistinguishable from their work. So that is one outlet of copying that I like, because sometimes I want to see a piece done in a certain artists style because their style is suited to a certain theme or mood or character that my personal style isn't.

I think the trouble is people think that styles are somehow copyrighted and that you are cheating somehow by using someone else's style. And now with the internet there are so many artists with just as many styles, you would be hard put to find a "unique" style anyway.

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arting is definitely not a word
new MR rule you have there. or make it a word :P

I totally agree with all that, and I regularly do gesture work with many of my favourite artists to find the differences and the similarities and to improve my own style as well.
I think at some point I thought I want to have my own unique style, but I figured when I'm good I can worry about that :P

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"Make sure you study Colour Theory and Form and Function"
ugh I have totally mixed opinions on this. Just like a native person can't explain their language's complex grammar, but can use it nonetheless, I think it's possible to "instincitvely" learn these by normal studies without too much effort on the reading books at a desk feeling.

that being said, if someone is the studious reader type, then perhaps reading a bunch of books is the way to go for them. some people learn by reading, others by hearing, others by doing. You have to know your own learning style to be able to best benefit from the information at your disposal.

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I'm not saying studying something is simple and can be done while you're not paying attention, I'm saying that it's not as complicated as it's sold to be.
Yep I agree with this. sometimes you need to grab a book and look something up, but not necessarily read every page in that book to get the point you need. Like who learns a whole dictionary to speak a language?

But you can of course try and develop your own style anyway, by pushing your boundaries and trying to mix ideas that you haven't seen before, as part of your learning process, copying isn't the only thing you can do. experimentation is a great form of learning and you're completely free from constraints other than your own inhibitions, which might be the worst constraints of all :P I find looking at others artists and how different their styles are helps to free up my art in that "I can do what I want and it can still be good"
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 10:49:54 AM by suupertramp »

Offline Spooky Manimal

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Re: Imitation is indeed the path to innovation
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2018, 11:43:26 AM »
I don't like the idea of imitation or good artists steal, but I suppose it's true. You can take the core elements of what you like and mix them up. I know when I drew I never wanted to copy styles, so my own style was a mess, it looked shapeless and odd. So it would've helped to take more from other styles that have form to make...my own form.

Now with my music if I steal elements I feel kind of bad, sometimes I really like a song to a temporary level of pure obsession such as The Smiths "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" and want to make something like it, but it comes too close. However there are always things to learn from doing that, and learning the tricks of any artist helps your own. There is so much I took from Ac/Dc that you don't really hear in my music like the one snare hit entry, and the general chord style. I suppose given all I've taken from them, Sonic Youth, Misfits, Buddy Holly, Hokago Tea Time and so on it becomes something in the end of my own. It relates to art and music, I think you need stuff from different entities as well. I've been looking desperately for something to steal from Seiko, Yui and all.

So in the end the sentiment is right! I think there is a big difference between just stealing and "artist stealing" though. Like if you're you know being all Airbourne or Greta Van Fleet about things than nah that's lame, but I guess it's that mixing of styles in anything you do need. In art it's different, but still I think it relates to any creative work you know. It's all similar core elements.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 11:46:25 AM by Spooky Manimal »

Offline suupertramp

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Re: Imitation is indeed the path to innovation
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 12:01:45 PM »
Quote
but it comes too close
Yeah I sort of get you on that. It's meant to be just "in the style" but ends up feeling like more of a copy, right?
yeah it's definitely not just art that suffers from that sort of problem. 

I think perhaps we need to point out the distinction between copying a piece/music for the sake of learning new skills, as opposed to producing a public piece that has a strong similarity or feeling of plagiarism to another piece, without crediting the inspiration or base style.

especially if you say "in the style of..." in your credits you should be fine, and it will be treated more as a homage, rather than you trying to pass of someone's style as your own. after a while you can leave it off and say "XYZ has really influenced my work over the years"

I think the trouble is when you are wandering around as a style-less artist/creator and you find "the exact style for you", but being done by someone else. I don't know how I would feel if someone mimicked my style exactly to be honest. I think even if you think you have found the exact style you want, your own perspective as an artist will make it unique regardless as long as you aren't purposely trying to rip off someone else's style, like a forgery or something :P

On a similar note, I believe that the apprentice mangaka pick up a very similar style to their senseis due to working with them for so long and helping out with their art, like inking sketches and stuff. would that be a somewhat similar situation to what we have talked about?

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Picasso

I think I am leaning this more into a legality issue than the original post's intent tho.

if you take the opposite of copying, which would be producing original work, then its quite hard to see how you could improve just creating content form your own mind, because you don't have something to aim at.