the myth of orginality / by Austin Sailors

Recently I realized that I have this unconscious bias, this quiet invisible paradigm lodged in my mind that tells me I'm not original enough. Creatively I get into this mind space where feel competitive, where I harshly scour my work for hints of someone else's influence or someone else's ideas. It can be easy for me to see other work I love and feel envy instead of inspiration. But this is not what I believe. And thankfully a few things came together the other day for me while walking through the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition at SF MOMA that helped me see this unconscious paradigm for the fallacy that it was. 

It can be easy for me to see other work I love and feel envy instead of inspiration
 Left: Henri Matisse  The Blue Window,  1913. Right: Richard Diebenkorn  Woman on a Porch, 19587

Left: Henri Matisse The Blue Window, 1913. Right: Richard Diebenkorn Woman on a Porch, 19587

This entire exhibit is meant to showcase the "profound inspiration Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993) found in the work of Henri Matisse (1869–1954)". It's all about how Diebenkorn was moved by Matisse's work and spent much of his career drawing inspiration from and even copying Henri Matisse. This jolted me back into reality just a bit, helped my ego to step off and allowed me to see my false paradigm around the need for artistic originality for what it is—a myth. It's not a completely uncommon way of thinking but it's a way our pesky ego tends to jump up into the way of our real work. 

 Left: Henri Matisse  Studio, Quai Saint-Michele , 1916. Right: Richard Diebenkorn  Urbana #4,  1953

Left: Henri Matisse Studio, Quai Saint-Michele, 1916. Right: Richard Diebenkorn Urbana #4, 1953

I started talking through this a bit with my friend who completely understood where I was coming from but had a completely different way of approaching this herself. She showed me a piece she had screen-shotted earlier that day on her phone. She told me she loves capturing other artist's work that affects her and she always thinks to herself, 'I wonder how this would look in my style.' I was so moved by how simple and how different her way of thinking was. It helped me to break down my own myth and reminded me how important it is for us to stick together, to talk through our process and to learn from the multitude of ways people think and see and feel. We always have something to learn, and if we let go of the myth of originality we can really have fun.