Have you ever met someone who’s basically just a little ray of sunshine, walking around masquerading as a human? Yep, that’s Chilean-Ukranian, New Orleans based artist Luba Zygarewicz. We met a few years ago in Venice, and I was instantly smitten with everything about her… her positive outlook on life, the encouragement she gives to everyone around her, and oh yes, her installation based work! Luba is the Queen of art residencies, and continually pushes her practice by creating site specific installations. Sometimes Luba has a plan when she arrives, but she often lets the materials she finds, and the space she’s given, dictate the work. So much inspiration tucked into one tiny, feisty, super sweet package!
Final photo by @scarcello_images.
Speaking of ‘pushing your practice’, let’s have an awkward conversation, shall we? I put up an Instagram post this week that I want to share here, too. We don’t talk about this enough, except when we’re in knee-deep in the drama, so I figured I’d just put it out there as a PSA for the art world. Here it is, copied ‘n pasted:
I really hate having this conversation, but in the past week alone I've been DM'd about this topic re: four separate situations. I’m not the art police, but because I share the work of so many people, I feel a responsibility to say this. I know you all know, but I'm just gonna say it out loud for good measure. If you see artwork you love, by all means allow it to inspire you ... but please do not copy it. That's not inspiration, that's duplication and it's really hurtful and painful to the original creator. They say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but whoever said that probably hadn't worked for years establishing a look/style/technique just to have it mimicked by someone who saw it while scrolling on the interweb. I've noticed comments on some of my posts in which people say "Oh, I'm going to try this!". Okay, cool, but remember to MAKE IT YOUR OWN. It's so much more rewarding to infuse your own stories, talents, and hard-earned skills into a piece rather than just taking a trail already blazed by another artist. Let's celebrate each other, and use the inspiration we feel as a way to push our own work further. PSA complete.
Now, that is just a fraction of what can be said on this topic. The comment thread is really interesting, and yes, there are so many fine lines and grey areas… ie. nobody “owns” abstract paintings, polkadots, or dog portraits so we can’t go around accusing people of “stealing” something that’s universal. What I’m talking about though is truly copying, and then selling that work as your own. We all know when something is a true rip off, not just similar subject matter, right? Right.
But what about copying to practice? Sure, go for it. In fact, lots of art schools have their students copy the work of the Masters to learn… but you can’t claim the Mona Lisa as your own! If you want to post that work, credit the artist who inspired you, but don’t start selling it. If you want to sell, it has to be work that is unique to you. Oh, and the other big one… that dreaded moment when you think you’ve come up with something totally unique, and then realize someone else has already done it! Gah! You didn’t copy, you’ve never even seen their work before… there was just something in the air. This truly does happen all the time, with absolutely no ill will intended. In that case, I’d encourage you to use the opportunity to push your work further. Believe me, I’m speaking from experience. Oof. Okay, I’m stopping now because this could turn into the longest email you’ve ever seen, and nobody wants that on a Saturday!
Thanks for reading. I think all of you are amazing. ~ Danielle xo