A friend and I discussed styles briefly the othernight- with a point aimed particularly at an artist we'd both been following and admiring becoming a Bryan Lee O'Malley clone- to our despair!
Let me first of all lay down the fact that I personally love O'Malley's work and I'm in no way attacking him or his artstyle. I've been an avid fan of the freedom his Scott Pilgrim books contain within their loose stylish lines. Let me also point out that so do a lot of other people, it's pretty hard not to admire the artstyle in some shape or form. As an artist trying to learn and understand simplicity and stylisation it's like magic to me- it's incredible to behold.
However! Our point was realized as despair because a great, unique artist had now became(to their knowledge or not)a really good Bryan Lee O'Malley impersonator. We felt that to go so far is such a shame when we considered the artwork they'd previously been producing. Although, It got me thinking- perhaps that's not such a bad thing?
For me- being individual or having your own stamp on things is an essential goal to aspire to, you're never gona' be better than the real deal so don't try to copy them. But I'm not so naive that I don't understand there's knowledge to be garnered in imitation. I'm also no stranger to it- I've been inspired from countless sources. I have learnt through observation to incorporate elements into my own style and approach to drawing- one that is very young and still growing.
I'm aware however of the 'invisible line' drawn to separate inspiration from imitation and that the relationship between the two flutters and twists, never passing too far beyond the threshold.
It's tricky to balance and there's room for overstepping on both sides- but when it becomes fullblown imitation; leaving behind all previous traits of style and now claimed to be the artists own work, is there any pride left in it?
I did a 'Matt Groening' Style image of my Felicity characters(As both an exercise and tribute to a massive inspiration) and I must admit- whenever my attempts got closer to a legit looking piece I did feel accomplished but would I ever pursue the style and claim it or any slight variation of it as my own? Perhaps we all think differently and don't share the guilt I'd feel in doing so. Perhaps the artist is going through a Scott Pilgrim Phase? Perhaps they'll learn from 'Walking a mile in another man's shoes' and then use that knowledge to strengthen their own style? Perhaps like a lot of artists I'm too focused on trying to find something 'unique'?
I just thought it interesting that there was an unwritten rule about 'going too far' for both of us(Both learning and growing artists) and that we recognised a great shame in seeing a great artist(and like I said still is, only now a great impersonator)letting inspiration become all out imitation.
I'm also willing to accept that this unwritten rule is perhaps nonsense and I've yet to see the real potential in fully exploring our deepest inspirations.