“We want you to take to take from us. We want you, at first , to steal from us because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice. And that’s how you will find your own voice. And that’s how you begin and then one day someone will still from you”. –Francis Ford Coppola
Do artist copy? Yes, artist do. The same story they copy will come back with different coloured glasses. Nobody is born with a style or with a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our own artist. We learn by copying.
We learn writing by copying down the alphabet. Musicians learn to play by practising scales. Painters learn to paint by reproducing masterpieces. Memories back then: The Beatles started as a cover band. Paul McCartney has said, ” I emulated Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Lewis. We all did.” McCartney and his patner John Lennon became one of the greatest songwriting teams in history, but as McCartney recalls, they only started writing their own songs “as a way to avoid other bands being able to play our set”.
” Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing”. –Salvador Dali
If you dream of being an artist. First, you have to figure who to copy. Who to copy its easy. You copy your artists, the people you love, the people you are inspired by and the people you want to be.
“You start out by rewriting your hero’s catalog” –Nick Lowe (cartoonist)
“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself”. –Yohji Yamamoto
The reason to copy you artist and and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. What to copy is a bit trikier. Don’t just snatch the style, snatch the thinking the style. You don’t want to look like your artist, you want to see like your artist.
” If you have one person you are influenced by, everyone will say you are the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re original!” –Gary Panter (cartoonist)
At some point, you will have to move from imitating your artist to emulating them. Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further.