Essentially, I answer this in the video, but I’ll post a summarized version of it here.
Is it okay to copy another artist’s style? Short answer, I’d say yes, but there’s obviously more to it.
The biggest reason I’d say yes, is only to learn technique.
Now, I know that many will disagree with me and say that NO, you need to develop your own technique, my counterargument is twofold:
- You’ve got to start somewhere. Much of the work I did when I started was similar to that of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. As I found more modern artists, I found that I tended to produce work more similar to theirs, such as Swarez (of UK) and Gerhard Richter.
- There’s nothing TRULY UNIQUE anymore. And if there is, it’s a very slim chance that your method will be that thing.
Now, it should (hopefully) be obvious that I’m not okay with laziness or stealing, but if someone was to imitate a technique TO LEARN ITS WORKINGS, I’d say that it only makes perfect sense.
Some of the most popular writers in the world started writing by rewriting books that were already in existence to get a feel for the form and rhythm of the author that wrote it; to get an understanding of the structure and the prose – things that just reading won’t give you.
And if you’re staring at a blank screen (or canvas), by copying someone’s else technique (again for learning at least), you can at least build the mechanics of doing that thing. You can build the muscle memory.
You at least get a feel for it.
Now onto my second point:
I really believe that nothing these days is truly unique. Even the Bible says that “…what has been done, will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9 NIV)
Everything these days is a remake, revamp, or remix. A derivative.
For example: My painting Monochromatic Dream was inspired by Pollock in the technique and materials, but looks nothing like any one of his single works.
But then I had someone who saw a video of mine, and made an almost identical piece to mine. In fact, I have listed them below.
Their so similar, you could honestly say they were created by the same person, but they weren’t.
That person’s style was inspired by mine, which was inspired by Pollock’s.
Was I mad to see it? No. I was impressed. And flattered that I inspired someone to make their own, and they were proud of it.
Besides, the technique was not mine to begin with. And even Pollock was inspired by Native American painters, so was his technique really his?
Another good example of this is any big name that ever had a mentor. Most proteges tend to take after their mentors, especially early on. You’ll notice that the protege does almost everything the mentor does for the first few years, because hey – that’s the whole point!
Then, slowly over time, that person becomes their own person, and they create their own persona.
It just takes time.
My point is this: I think that yes, it is okay to copy another painter’s work, especially to learn from it. But I wouldn’t suggest staying there, or you may never grow as an artist.
In an age of social media, where the only way to be known is to put everything on display, it’s kinda hard NOT to be copied.
And with so many people in the marketplace, there’s going to be overlap. It’s just going to happen.
Even if you created a method from scratch, it’s a only a matter of time before people are doing it elsewhere.
Copy to learn, make derivative works, then develop your own style.