A Copy of a Copy of a Copy
How creativity pushes us forward
Ideas mutate to reach their intended audience
I like to think that ideas - like life - will find a way. And ideas don’t just come from out of nowhere, but a process. Creation is a synthesis of material and passion, drawing from numerous sources to create something new from what has come before and seasoned with our own zest.
What if X but Y?
Creation can feel like you are cobbling together a lot of different inspirations at once. It’s like Star Wars, but with Wizards and Fantasy? That’s Harry Potter. Jaws, but in space with truckers? Alien. Alien, but the Vietnam War? Aliens. Creative ideas are a mix of a bunch of different ideas all squishing together and combusting into some new, bright and shiny thing.
It’s Stealing, But… Not?
One of my top 10 favorite books is Steal Like an Artist by. In the book, which is wildly creative and visually enticing, Austin says that bad artists copy but good artists STEAL. Our brains are little connection builders, pulling and prying ideas from an infinite universe of sources to make things for ourselves. So let’s think about what good theft looks like, and what bad theft looks like. Check out this graphic:
When you steal from one source, what you make may end up looking like a parody. I remember going into Blockbuster back in the 00’s (back when it was still around) and seeing this movie called the Transmorphers. Yeah, you read that right: Transmorphers. Not Transformers. But really… that’s what it was. It was just a copy; a crude imitation1.
What we want to do is make a remix, build from many sources and create transformative work. I have a ton of inspirational voices in my life. Here are a few of my artwork inspirations.
Alex Vede is an amazing artist with a really interesting drawing style. It incorporates a chaotic sketch technique with amazing lighting and beautiful color pallets. I have one of his books, which is a compilation of several of his previous sketchbooks. Click the image if you are interesting in buying one!
I love the way he pairs grit, half-tone textures, and atmospheric lighting in his work really give you a sense of scope and weight to his worlds.
As I’ve been looking for inspiration for upcoming gaming projects (Frontier and Light Racer2), I’ve been looking at Alex’s sketchbook work and seeing how a mixture of his work and others could create something truly interesting and inspirational.
Burnt Toast Creative
Scott Martin, the illustrator behind Burnt Toast Creative, has a whimsical style that I just adore. Some of his work, while appearing kid friendly, can have a devious side to it as well which is a fun dissonance that I enjoy in fellow creatives. His linework is clear, crisp, and THICK, with what I like to call an Ice Cream Shop color pallet.
Pairing this slick aesthetic with some clever animation makes for engaging artwork and content. His Instagram account is a constant source of inspiration for me, and it’s really challenging me to look at my style and see ways I can adapt and keep things simple but create compelling messages.
Nathan Pyle (Strange Planet)
Nathan W Pyle is a human person taking societal rules and conditions and applying verbose scientific explanations to assert their preposterous nature.
OK. I can’t keep that type of talk up, but Nathan can! His humor is the main driving force behind a series of simple cartoon illustration of aliens talking about the idiosyncrasies of humanity.
The art itself isn’t the focal point. Sure, it’s cute and whimsical3, but the point is for us to appreciate the small details of our human existence. I really love this above graphic Nathan created “Existence is finite. Joy needs no defense” because - while verbose - it’s a great mantra. Love your life, live it to the fullest and don’t care what others think.
These are just a few of my inspirations, and I’ve been trying my hand at incorporating their flavors into my creative stew. This is how the ideas mutate to reach their intended audience. We mash things up. We remix. We learn. And - in the end - we share our love for the creative process with each other.
What are your inspirations?
Okay, okay… I know the Transformers movies aren’t - like - the ‘best’, but just … sigh… you get what I’m saying.
To be announced soon! You’ll see. ;)
You may be noticing a pattern…