Frida Las Vegas’ Guide To Not Being Shit And Stealing Artists’ Work
Remix, don't rip off.
Junkee Media’s annual unconference brings together Australia’s best and brightest young minds to inspire, innovate, and improve the world.
Junkee’s favourite pop artist Frida Las Vegas has a handy guide to being a totally cool dude on the internet, and making sure you’re not stealing creatives’ work. It’s easier than you think to accidentally steal someone’s work, and when you do, it really affects the people who create it. So come on, let’s not be shit, hey.
Frida, along with hundreds of other inspiring young Aussies, will be a delegate, at the upcoming Junket unconference.
NB – the use of the word ‘creatives’ throughout this article refers to anyone who creates, not necessarily artists or other visual practitioners.
Remix, Don’t Rip Off
Nothing is truly original. I get that. The weight of history looms heavy upon most creative people. The struggle is real to create work that truly stands out amongst the insane glut of work the internet has made oh-so-discoverable. I often ask myself, “Why should I even bother trying when *insert creative hero here* did it first?”
But rather than lifting other people’s work in its entirety, think about how you can take a teeny weeny portion and mix it up with MANY other influences in order to create something entirely new. Your work should be a cocktail of the myriad of influences you connect with, rather a creepy unsolicited love letter to one singular artist. As writer Austin Kleon says in Steal Like An Artist, “Steal from many, not from one.”
Like a DJ compiling a playlist, it’s how you mix your influences that ultimately renders your work unique.
Be Conscious Of The People You Follow On Instagram
How do you express your most authentic self on Instagram, a medium which is defined by the artificial construction of your life/work and the subsequent projection/curation of these ideas to a bunch of strangers? ? What happens when creativity and business comes into the mix? Are you scrolling through a social MEDIA or a social MARKETING platform right this second? ? This concept has interested me for a while, and I was invited onto The Tonic podcast to get some stuff off my chest about how I REALLY feel about this digital ecosystem we are defining others (and ourselves) by in 2017 (hint: it’s complicated). In the spirit of 100% transparency, these photos are a self-stylised artificial construction of me attempting to embrace my Greek heritage using glamour and humour from my 2014 #MightyAphrodite collection of perspex jewelry – a medium I’m not inspired to produce anymore (and will discuss why soon) ? ???⚡️? Have a listen to the podcast via www.fridalasvegas.com/fridasworld/ and I welcome your constructive feedback! ? #RealTalk #TheTonicPodcast #Kindred #FRIDALASVEGAS
Sometimes your subconscious will repeat their work….without you even knowing.
Instagram is a powerful visual tool often used for moodboard, reference or inspiration purposes outside the app’s intended social networking function. The trouble with Instagram is that once you visually ‘take in’ an image or video that comes through your daily feed, you leave yourself wide open to appropriating (or worse, regurgitating) that practitioner’s work – either consciously and subconsciously.
The key word to keep in mind is daily. Humans are creatures of habit and our brains act accordingly without us even realising. A simple way to future proof your work from this all-too-common occurrence is to avoid following the work of creatives in your chosen medium. We all have a natural desire to check out what our peers are doing but gawking at a daily stream of their work is not doing you any favours, if you seek to make a meaningful point of difference with your own work (which you should!).
Think Outside Your Own Square
It sounds counterintuitive, but looking for inspiration outside your industry or medium can turbocharge your ability to gain a different perspective and create a more distinctive body of work.
Are you a painter with a penchant for architecture? Try following any myriad of architecture-related accounts, rather than individual painters. Perhaps you’re a tattoo artist with a side passion for makeup and beauty? There are gazillions of makeup artists on Instagram.
Follow people whose work you find interesting or inspirational, but who don’t necessarily do the exact same thing as you. Your work will grow exponentially because of it.
Question Your True Objectives
Becoming conscious of why you tru;y vibe on a particular person’s work is absolutely crucial to avoid replicating it.
If you find yourself inspired by one singular person’s creative output and seek to produce similar work, ask yourself why you want a slice of their creative pie. Do you perceive the other creator as having more money, power or influence and are hankering to get in on that gravy train? Are you yearning to produce output with a similar look and feel to elicit the same audience response?
Be honest and ask yourself why their work resonates with you, rather than reproduce it under a new name (aka YOURS). Self-awareness is one step closer to self-growth; it’s the ultimate quiver for any creative person to have in their bow.
Listen To Your Heart
In some ways, this is the number one rule to follow when it comes to knowing the difference between inspiration and imitation (also a cracking Roxette power ballad).
The widespread dissemination of work in the Digital Age combined with ever-weakening copyright legislation means that monitoring the line between influence and appropriation rests largely on the personal level – for the time being.
As a creator, it is your responsibility to feel the difference between inspiration and imitation on a deeply instinctual level – i.e. your gut – and act accordingly. Ultimately, there is room for everyone to create work that is unique and true to themselves; the trick is turning inward and trusting that you can offer the world something no one else can.
The Bottom Line
So you’re inspired to make/do/write/produce/create based solely on someone else’s singular creative practice that you’ve seen online. They’ll never know because they’re on the other side of the world… or they don’t follow you and there’s a small chance they ever will. Right?
Nuh-uh. Think about how you would feel if some random person from the internet took the essence of your creative energy – that thing you devote all of your mental capacity to, neglect your loved ones for and work a tedious job to fund – only to claim it as their own work (and sometimes profit from handsomely). It’s just not on.
Remember: imitation is reductive. Inspiration is pro-active. Empathy is transformative.