"Good artists copy, great artists steal." Pablo Picasso had once said. When it comes to art, some people admire, some copy, and some steal. Artists have a lot to gain or lose over their artwork. It is their livelihood. Plus it can take weeks and weeks of effort to produce one single artwork.
While crediting an artist is also a common practice, everyone has their own doubts about a piece of art being copied. However, there are a handful of people who also like to term the practice as 'inspiration'.
Hence you might feel it is justified for an artist to fight for their original artwork. But one person who won't share this opinion with you is legendary writer, Mark Twain. He once, wrote to his friend Helen Keller talking about an allegation of plagiarism against her.
"The kernel, the soul - let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances - is plagiarism."
He strongly believed that whenever a person came up with an idea, he or she had just added to a large bulk of substance that was already present. He used the example of a speech. He pointed out that leaders use the words of a 1000 other leaders from the past and call it a 'speech'.
In the same way, a film based on true events must "steal" from everyday lingo to form dialogues that are remembered for many years. Even fictional universes in novels are often inspired by one another. Does that make the work of an author any lesser?
An Artists' Inspiration
A lot of artist's writers, musicians or poets have been inspired by someone. The brushstrokes of a painting, the style of writing, the melody of a song, everything has its own source of inspiration. But does that make it copied to an extent? The answer lies in the grey area between people who 'inspire' and those who 'get inspired'
Andy Warhol, famous American Pop Artist is famous for his depiction of 'The Last Supper' in the most iconic portrayal of pop art culture. With the internet, everything is made available at a click's reach.
Writers and poets in the web world have experienced the frustrations of their work being plagiarized by others. Copyright laws, though helpful, have not been able to get rid of the problem completely.
Steve Jobs once famously said, "Creativity is just connecting things". He felt that creative people would just connect experiences of others with their own experiences. According to him it was just a case of thinking about those experiences more than the people who just had a good idea.
Therefore, one could say that creativity doesn't just start and end with a good idea. A good idea might be made a reality by a person who did not originally think of it.
Stolen Ideas or Inspired?
In the creative world, there is little scope for someone to keep a record all the ideas being generated out of their minds all the time. Artists of all decrees are hesitant about discussing new ideas, content, or paintings in fear of being copied.
Gone are the days when signing off your painting meant you own the idea. Someone can come up with something similar (maybe even more beautiful) after getting 'inspired' by your piece.
Talking of those who draw inspirations from other works of art, one can arguably say that getting inspired by an ancient tree meant stealing nature's copyrights. One might also say that every piece of art is inspired by another piece of art in some ways.
When someone gets inspired to create a painting, poetry, or write a book, they usually absorb it from several sources. An artist, who got inspired to paint after looking at another portrait, usually has some respect towards the original piece. It is not every time does inspiration mean 'copying'.
Inspiration and copying has always remained in constant debate for whosoever has raised the question. Does inspiration mean showing respect through art, or does is simply mean copying?
Do all artists face a similar scenario when their work is either inspired or an inspiration? The answer lies in various places; blended in a painting at The Louvre, in the sentences of a bestselling book, the rhymes in the verses of poetry, or a tune in a melody.