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A few words about “originality” in art

There is so much emphasis on originality in the art world today.

Whether your medium is photography, literature, film, sculpture, dance or whatever else may be the case, originality is something that we constantly stress. Even in the cyberspace, Google emphasizes the importance of “original” content in raking well on search engines.

However, if you stop and think about it, over the course of human history there have been billions of people. Many of these people where artistically inclined or creative minded individuals. Coupling that with the tens of thousands of years worth of inspiration out there since the dawn of civilization, it is hard to believe that anyone today can come up with a truly original concept.

In fact, someone notable once said something along the lines of – “There are no original ideas, only new approaches to old ones.” While I don’t believe this is 100% true, I do think it is reasonably accurate. In some cases new technology and discoveries come along that can allow for some originality. But for the most part, the person who spoke these words was dead on.

For example, as one of who knows how many photographers in Pittsburgh PA over the course of the last 100+ years, I can tell you that the city’s amazing skyline has been shot gazillions of times. So while the subject itself can never be original (except for the very first person who photographer it of course), the angels used, colors in the sky itself and any number so f other factors can allow you to put your own spin on it.

This is the case with every art form out there today.

So as a word of advice, stop struggling for something totally original. Find your inspiration and make it your own.


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