I recently came across a discussion of how much of our process we should explain to others . There was a suggestion that giving away too much unsolicited information has the potential to devalue our industry.
It’s been bouncing around my head for a few days.
I’m quite intrigued to hear others suggest we should hold back, as sharing information that we learn and allowing others to learn from is something that I’ve always thought as big part of making good art. So much advice from artists and creators across different industries weaves in and out of the same theme - all creative work builds on what came before. It ties in with the importance of being humble and staying vulnerable. Seeing themselves as a tiny part of a larger creative linage.
It might seem that this just benefits younger people starting out and it takes an act of generosity from more experienced members of the community to help them along. But everyone benefits when you think of your craft as something that you’re picking up from the people before you, and leaving in a (slightly) different place for the next generation.
‘Do Not Covet Your Ideas’ by Paul Arden is a great reminder on how we grow when we give away everything we know: it forces you to develop and not work from reserves. More will come back to you. They weren’t our own ideas in the first place anyway, and the knee-jerk reason we sometimes feel like pulling up the bridge after us is often intertwined with ideas of prestige and jealousy. All we can do is copy.
The big distinction to be made in all this is that it is important to simultaneously copy from multiple people all at once, and therefore end up with something new. If you literally clone one creation then of course that’s plagiarism. Photocopying your hero’s isn’t flattering them. But even so, that’s harder than it sounds. Anyone that’s interested in their work will naturally be taking influence from multiple sources whilst they imitate work they appreciate. To give credit, Austin Kleon said it much better: ‘The human hand is incapable of making a perfect copy’
Those who just copy from one and don’t innovate aren’t creating original work anyway, and an honest artist doesn’t need to worry about them. Nobody will force you to share your skills, but discussing and dissecting it with peers can be a valuable part of the process, and you might well unexpectedly learn something watching them evolve in cross pollination with someone else.
Either way. I wouldn’t worry about any of that endangering your - inherently unique - creations ⚡️