I'm typing today's post from the library I grew up in. Actually the newer version of the one I really grew up in but nonetheless the one that replaced the older one at some point in my teenage years. I just walked through the young reader and young adult sections I hungrily read through as a youth secretly hoping to find some trace of my connection here.
Knowing the card and stamp system is long gone I was looking for all of the books I essentially ruined as a child. The chapter books I tore the corners off of page after page as I completed them. I envisioned a big stretch of paperbacks standing out due to the missing corners I left in my wake. I even specifically looked for the book that stopped this horrible habit when I was finally found out(and subsequently had to pay many months of allowances as a result of) , "Jelly Belly". The book wasn't there.
Why am I mentioning this? I've been spending a lot of time recently pondering the marks that we make. Physically and other. The ripples that occur from our existence and the things we put out into the world. The way this all interacts with others doing the very same things.
As an artist and friend, acquaintance, advisor, student and teacher to so many other creatives I have engaged in many discussions surrounding copyrights, originality, inspiration and other related topics. I have always been pretty open on what I consider "ok" and constantly state there is no need to recreate the wheel. Short of an outright ripoff I had a tendency to believe anything else was fair game and to feel upset about it was just plain silly. Just make more work of your own work I often would say.
Then recently, I experienced great upset. Someone I knew and really loved took an idea and statement I foolishly believed to be mine and put it out in to the world on a product. I was pissed. Seriously angry to the point I was spewing profanities and I made a painting. The painting I made let these feelings move through me and allowed me to share what I considered to be a terrible injustice with the world.
After I did this, a funny thing happened... I felt a little silly about it. I started noticing posts from people like Dallas Clayton encouraging others to take his ideas and recreate them for the world. I read Big Magic and tapped in to Elizabeth Gilbert's ideas surrounding ideas as energies that move around looking for the human partner best able and willing to bring them in to existence. I considered all of my work dating back to my childhood (images probably outright copied from this very library as assignments) and work later loosely inspired by my mentors and really began to question what I really think about it all.
I dove deep in to considering not only the marks we make in the world, both those that feel original to ourselves or as a direct result of others, and the marks we make in the world by the way we might inspire others to make their own marks as well.
Then this morning I opened one of my favorite daily emails, Story People by Brian Andreas. I was moved by it. It struck a chord with me. I immediately envisioned an abstract work based upon the story written in the image he shared. Then I stopped and thought would that be any different from what I recently experienced.
I could finally reframe the experience as something positive in that perhaps my work had inspired someone else to do something with it. The reality is that perhaps they are completely and utterly unaware of any of the work I had already done surrounding the idea. The reality is that all I am ever looking for in almost all that I do is feel some sort of connection and really perhaps that's what hurt in the situation upsetting me.
I created a new piece inspired by my original anger fueled work I painted the moment I felt wronged. It is essentially the same layout and color story but instead of my hand flipping a beautiful bird, they rest in Anjali mudra. Namaste.
The light in me sees the light in you; honestly, when I reach the end of all of my inquiry each day I realize most of the time that's all I ever really want anyway.