“We tend to think things are new because we’ve just discovered them.”
– Madeleine L’Engle
I wonder whether artists 100 years ago found it easier to believe they were being creative in a unique way? These days it is so easy to see the art of others.
Thousands of individual websites, blogs, online galleries, social networking art sites like Flickr overwhelm us with access to artists all over the world and their creations. It can be exciting, humbling and inspiring all at the same time.
Long ago artists could only see what other local artists were creating so uniqueness must have felt more attainable. Have you ever had an idea (all on your own) only to find another artist who had already done it (perhaps better than you could)? It can take the wind out of your sails.
Of course, you could avoid looking at the work of others – artificially recreate the limited access artists long ago had to other art. But maybe it’s better to know an idea you have has been exhaustively worked through by others so you can take it a step further. Or is it’s unique status in your own creative world reward and justification enough?
I suspect that the increased access to the work of others has accelerated the rate of creativity and uniqueness in the art world. Increased communication tends to spawn innovation in most fields and I don’t think art is any different in that regard. That increased pace comes at a cost, which is the pressure to take the status quo to the next level.
Some days I dream nostalgically of a time when I would have been the only photographer in town and everything I did was new to me and to all I knew.
Those days, my friend, are gone for good…