On the importance of being original

I have the feeling that nowadays (in particular in the world of comics/illustration) everyone is so obsessed with finding their ‘own style’ that many talented people end up having far more style than good ideas. I often read fiercy debates about influences and plagiarism, which lead me to doubt whether my style is ‘original’ enough. When this happens I find refreshing to read the opinion of Wyatt (the protagonist of The Recognitions by William Gaddis):

That romantic disease, originality, all around us we see originality of incompetent idiots, they could draw nothing, paint nothing, just so the mess they make is original … Even two hundred years ago who wanted to be original, to be original was to admit that you could not do a thing the right way, so you could only do it your own way.  When you paint you do not try to be original, only you think about your work, how to make it better, so you copy masters, only masters, for with each copy of a copy the form degenerates … you do not invent shapes, you know them, auswendig wissen Sie, by heart.
Even if I don’t fully agree with this position, I think we should all remind ourselves that the romantic cult of the artist as an [original] individual is a very modern invention. For many centuries ‘copying’ was not only tolerated but praised and encouraged. This is why I have decided to start a new project: every month I am going to make a copy of someone else work. It could be an old master, someone who has always inspired me, or something completely new, which I only recently discovered. It doesn’t really matter. The aim is simply to push my boundaries, not to get stuck into my ‘own style’ and keep learning new tricks that can help me visualizing my ideas.
Let’s start with a slightly altered copy of Albrecht Dürer‘s Melancholia, made a few years ago, when I was working with The Balloon.  Black biro on paper (297 x 210 mm)
Melancholia Dürer Farinella

7 thoughts on “On the importance of being original

  1. I think that even the copy have something original. Every time that you copy something you put some of you in someone else work, the ways that you make your traces and changes some aspects of the work (unwilling some times) is a signature of a original copy.

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