So the long planned Etsy shop is finally going to open on this coming Sunday the 21st of September and I cannot get my muse to shut the hell up and let me get on with finishing things! It’s funny how this time last year I had ideas clambering to get out of my mind but struggling to actually get past all of my anxieties then finally squeezing their way out into just a few pieces that sort of worked, and now I have an almost constant stream of “Ooooo why don’t you make one of them, try doing that that way, dip that in there, put antlers on that, make some wings out of twigs, make mice out of silk scraps, maybe it’s time to make that octopus, oo0OOO0oooo what about a mermaid, now do a lobster make it blue, no white, no blue…houses on legs make houses on legs…acorn eyeballs! ”
You get the idea. I have a stack of unfinished ideas that only get half made before they seed another one! I can’t seem to switch it all off right now so I am back to making lists and trying to stick to them, although I keep managing to divert myself with tea and dog walking, and (ahem) writing this post.
When it all gets too much I go make another fish skeleton.
I’ve also had the privilege of meeting (online but it still counts!) so many other artists and of course that feeds more ideas of what’s possible and what I’d like to do. I used to staunchly avoid making anything that I’d ever seen done before, ever, and if I made something that I thought was original, then found to be similar to someone else’s I’d immediately feel like a failure. I guess I wrongly assumed that something was only truly creative if it was entirely original. Yes, I was that daft.
I don’t believe that any of us ever work in isolation. Whether we consciously know it or not, we’re all pulled by the same tides that affect everyone else and our muses will be excited by the same things as others on the other side of the world without ever having met, and we think we’re working on something all by ourselves until we put it online and realise that we’re not alone.
I don’t beat myself up so much now if I see work that’s coming from the same place as mine, or ended up in the same place. I used to worry that others would think I was copying them. When I was at art school there was nothing lower than someone who’d blatantly ripped off someone else, we were there to innovate damn it! Only at art school could I have been so naive to presume that I could create something entirely unique that had never been done before.
Of course, the one thing that DOES make our work unique, whether we want it to or not, the one thing that we can only avoid with massive effort, is the very thing that we take completely for granted; our own hands, eyes, skills and minds. If we try to consciously imitate someone else, we can only end up being a poorer version, but if we look at someone else’s work as a starting point and think “I’m going to go try making one of those”, then allow ourselves to take the lead from there, it will inevitably end up being as much our own as an idea that we thought we’d come up with by ourselves.
This of course, only goes for things we add creative input into ourselves. I have an intense dislike for companies and businesses who intentionally rip off other’s designs and ideas, but that’s a whole other blog post!
So into the mix of ideas and possibilities is a whole other world of ideas that I would have avoided just a few years ago because I wouldn’t have been able to prove to myself that I was the only person in the whole world who was doing it. I’ve been wanting to make a mermaid for a while and I had actually thought I should avoid it because other people make mermaids. Seriously. So now that I’ve got over that, expect a mermaid in the not too distant future.
My hands can’t work quickly enough to stitch all of the creatures and worlds that are cascading into and out of my mind and I’m clutching my list, focusing hard on staying the course, at least until the shop is open on Sunday night and I can relax a little bit and work on some new ideas.
I had no idea where this post was going to go when I started it, and I’m still not sure it’s ended up going in any particular direction so for now I will end with a rather fabulous quote that says all of the above and more, far more succinctly than I have.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. – C.S Lewis
Now, let’s go get those green velvet shoes finished…