Jul 18, 20110
An old tribute to Edward Gorey:
“As an artist I’m a vile, parasitic sponge. I soak up anything I lay my eyes on and then try feebly to squeeze it back out of myself.”
(an awesome quote from a very thoughtful discussion about how influence and inspiration can play in an artist’s development — UNFINISHED COMICS: pseudo intellectual ruminations on cartooning – THIRD POST – cartooning after Chris Ware)
I couldn’t agree more (though I’m more a Mz Jobberts who wishes she was a Mz Tibbets instead).
Every once in a while, after I show someone my work, they’ll make an offhand comment that has me spiraling into a vortex of insecurity:
“Oh, it reminds me of… James Jean.”
“It feels so much like Where the Wild Things Are!”
“Oh! I can’t remember the name right now… but you know! Those old children’s books!”
“You can really feel the Asian influence.”
OH NO I HAVE NO UNIQUE VOICE AT ALL I SUCK.
The crazy thing is, they usually meant it as a compliment, to connect. The negativity all comes from my own insecurities of being “an unoriginal copycat hack” because of my perception that our society highly values “uniqueness” (which I fear I don’t have).
Some days, I can be more level-headed (sane) and realize that they just paid me a huge compliment… likening my nascent artwork to such greats as those. I need to cultivate that sanity.
After all, any artist that says he/she has no influences is just a liar. And every artist has had that moment — that niggling paranoia that whispers because you love art, and because you’ve seen so much art, what you have to create is nothing new, has no value or is somehow less meaningful, and/or a direct rip off someone else.
For me, my paranoia surfaces because I art crush so hard. Every once in a while, I’ll encounter an artist that makes me flutter inside. It becomes an obsession, really — I dive through the Great Depths of the Internet, download any or all images available, read all his/her bios and interviews, check out any available books at the library, Link+ books from connected libraries, tag and scan any images I like.
After that kind of immersion, that intense (one-sided) relationship, that artist’s eye is all I see for a while. It’s like how your friends, family, lovers and mentors influence who you are. And as with many other intense interactions, I may sound like that person a little more, use the same words, etc for a little while after being around them, but I’m still me.
As I grow into being an artist (and away from feeling like an unworthy art student – it’s the teens all over again), I hope to be more comfortable with acknowledging that people, life, the world have influenced me, some in more visible ways, and others in ways that I may be unaware of. I also hope that I will continue to process all these inputs and create something new to share with others.
There is something beautiful about how someone’s work and life can touch a stranger and strongly move them, sometimes even changing who they are. I hope one day, I can be an inspiring artist like that for someone else.