Saturday, July 3, 2010

I copy art

I wanted to share a bit of my artistic process these days as honestly as I can...

I am constantly looking for new inspiration and ideas from new artists.  It drives me to be a better artist, try new things, push out on my comfort zone.  When I see a piece of art that really gets me excited, I try to figure out what it is that I like the most about it and then work at putting my own spin on that idea.  I am not ashamed to admit that I copy other artists' ideas.  It is actually something that artists have done for ages.  Artist collectives have always been common.  These would be groups of friends/students that usually started out in art training together and influenced each other along the way.  They get ideas and inspiration from each other, and consequently will often have similar themes, styles, icons, trends in each of their own art.  This is what happened to me for the short time that I was in art school.  I found myself heavily influenced by the 3 strongest painters in the studio.  Their styles, their subject matter, I copied it.  It gave me confidence to try something new, they set the bar, and with every new piece, I was stretching to reach it.

(one of those great painters at my school, 
he went on to become...well, ridiculously amazing. 
See more of him here)

Now that I am in a different time in my life and I find myself working alone (or with a certain two year old) in a back bedroom of my house instead of a collective art studio space, I have discovered myself doing the same thing, only with contemporary artists that I connect with online.  Through my own blog searches, endless hours being lost in the beauty of etsy, and the Kelly Rae Eclass I've been taking for the last 5 weeks, I can say that I am still heavily influenced by the artists that I find and geek out over their work.  I study the pieces that I adore the most and try to figure out what it is about those artworks that gets me excited.  Then I take those ideas and throw them into a blender of canvas and brush with my own uniqueness and style and discover what comes out of it.

*Disclaimer:  I have to clarify that I am not talking about directly copying someone else's work, but using their idea as inspiration for my own work.

(I adore all of Mindy's bird paintings.  They are sweet, expressive, colorful, simple.  
I used the pose of the red bird -a pose Mindy uses often with her birds- to inspire my own love bird character.

(I loved the first bird I made so much that I did 3 more bird characters in different poses and colors to go with him)

For awhile I felt kind of silly and guilty for doing this.  I totally believed that I should be coming up with all my own original ideas completely from my own head sitting alone in my art room.  That using someone else's art as inspiration was violating to them and labeled me as artistic but UNcreative.  However, I've realized that particular thought process is just self-defeating and negative, reflecting only my own lack of self-confidence in myself as a creative person with a wealth of great ideas inside her.  It denies me the ability to own and take credit for the unique style and perspective I pour into the original idea turning it into something that is truly ME (I was going to write truly Harmony, but that seemed a bit too metaphorical -LOL).  It also ignores the element of my process.  My journey to becoming an established artist is just that, a JOURNEY, and so I must start at the beginning.  I must allow myself to grow and experiment and try new things.  The truth is that the other artists I am leaning on have had this period in their process as well, everyone starts out like this in some form or another.  If I remain respectful to the original artist, carefully walk the line of gathering inspiration to cultivate my own ideas and not straight up copying their work, then it is not violating and more unbeknownst mentoring.

I loved the element of the balloon trailing behind the girl.  I also really loved the pairing of a balloon (which makes you think of happy childhood stuff with a less than sunny facial expression)

For me, Artistic and Creative Momentum comes from the inspiration of experiencing new things, ideas, and people that get me excited, put my brain into overdrive, and make me want to do nothing more than try that thing I just saw or make something like it.  I have found that the key is to give myself time and permission to explore the idea and let it grow past that moment of "this is such a cool idea, I want to do that." morphing it into my own creation that was inspired by someone else.

I am saying this because I think a lot of us get caught in this cycle of not feeling creative enough or feeling like our ideas arent good enough compared to everyone else.  We either give up completely or use inspiration from another artist without stretching ourselves and pushing the idea further.  Well I say, GET OUT OF THAT FUNK, take that other person's idea for a moment, try it on for size and then let your own spirit, experience, and talent permeate it until the original idea is barely recognizable.  It will help you grow, and growing is the only direction we should be working towards.  Besides sometimes when you try something new you just might surprise yourself with what you can do.

I've never considered doing girls in bunny costumes before, but when I saw this beautiful bunny girl by Katherine Quinn of Sleep and Her Sisters, I was in love and just had to try my hand at a bunny girl of my own.

Here she is!! Just finished, my own Bunny Girl (she doesnt have a title yet)

So Now, Go Forth, Find Inspiration, And CREATE!!



  1. i totally understand what you mean, its difficult to say that one is inspired by someone else, if this person is contemporary and has her or his own online presence and sells as well on etsy and so on...
    i mean, no one would be blamed for saying she was inspired by picasso or monet or whoever, because those guys are long dead...

    xoxo trine

  2. Amen to everything you just said. I'm very glad I took the time to read your post. I am exactly on the same page. I was nodding when you said, " My journey to becoming an established artist is just that, a JOURNEY, and so I must start at the beginning. I must allow myself to grow and experiment and try new things." Lately I read a quote that say, "Life is a journey, not a destination." And that really hit home. I just transfered from business to art in my 4th year in college, and I'm already 22. Talk about starting from the beginning. It's tough. I wish there's a short cut but there is none. So I decided to do some artists studies, to start training myself. Here are some artists I like lately: Thereza Rowe and Jo Cheung. :) Great post!

  3. You should sign up on and register so I can start follow your blog from there. I think you have great posts. I would like to add you to my list.

  4. Jen, Bloglovin is a great idea, thanks for the tip. I look forward to staying in touch....and 22 is not a late start. I just finished this incredible ecourse with Kelly Rae Roberts ( and she started painting when she was 30 and look where she is now. Just keep sticking with the things that bring you passion and joy and it wont matter how old you are, you will feel fulfilled.

  5. Thank Harmnony. I just clicked into her site. Her work is super cute. I'm planning to look into her book.:)

  6. i adore these tribute paintings. i think every artist does this and SHOULD do this because it is a means of exploration. its inspiring! i love the bird print you sent to me. and i didn't even know it was inspired by my birdies until you sent me the note.
    i love this direction of exploration you are journeying through. much love!

  7. Hiya Harmony,

    Just come across your beautiful blog & especially love this post & can relate to it so much.

    Thank-you for the heads up and will be saving this blog as a favourite.


  8. Hullo!

    What your blog talks about is something iv felt for so long.
    I see incredible artists and think how on earth do they come up with these ideas. But you are so right, we all look at one and others work to find inspiration. I suppose it is how we find ourselves.

    Cheers Becca.

  9. I totally get the inspiration from other peoples art! Some of my ideas come from looking at someone else's art. I look at it for a bit then put it out of site and do my own thing using theirs as a reference. I love getting inspiration from other people! Sometimes it leads me to ideas I may have never thought of!


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