Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about an experience an artist friend has gone through recently. She created a very public piece of artwork that was very similar to another public piece, created by another artist about six years ago. She apparently was confronted by - who knows - the originality police no doubt. I won't go into details because the artwork isn't the point here.

It's what gets imprinted into our consciousness and/or subconsciousness that has me spending a bit too long in the shower. My artist friend swears that she didn't intend to plagiarize and I believe her. Creativity abounds in her paintings. So, how does this occur? I'm no psyche student, especially as I intend to stay focused on a list of personal and business priorities. That doesn't leave much room (nor desire) for pondering life's mysteries. But a serendipitous book report on NPR sparked my imagination. The book is Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists by James Geary. As Geary discusses some of the world's famous aphorisms, one in particular beamed apropos:

Originality is the art of concealing your source. - Franklin P. Jones

Ha! This brought to mind the infamous Picasso who stated: "good artists borrow, great artists steal". If in fact there is nothing new under the sun as the Bible declares, then everything already exists. We as creators are SOL. So where's the originality in anything? Even in science, quarks other little quantums and parallel universes lie around patiently waiting to be discovered.

I went to Robert Genn's cool website "The Painter's Keys" for some more sage-like quotes:

What is originality? Undetected plagiarism. - William Ralph Inge

Utter originality is, of course, out of the question. - Ezra Pound

I invent nothing. I rediscover. - Auguste Rodin

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. - Voltaire

What the world calls originality is only an unaccustomed method of tickling it.
- George Bernard Shaw

I really do not aim at any originality. - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes. - Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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