Imitation vs. Inspiration


I cannot stop watching this video.

Jay Z performed “Picasso Baby” at the Pace Gallery in NYC. FOR SIX HOURS STRAIGHT. He was interested in the concept of performing art, how it manifests energy inside and outside the gallery setting. He wanted to see how artistic energy evolved between artists, so he performed his song to individuals one at a time. Some danced with him, challenged him, critiqued him or laughed with him. One woman, with a ¬†mohawk, gave him sexy eyes that could intimidate Queen Bey. My favorite article on one man’s experience is here.


But here’s the kicker: Jay Z 100% copied this idea.

An artist, Marina Abramovic, originated this concept and applied it to her medium for a performance entitled “Artist is Present”. Then she had the lady balls to show up to Pace & have a little moment with Jay Z.

This video makes me smile like little else has this week. It’s fun, playful, energetic and artistic. Whether it is copied or not, it is great art in motion. Which leads me to…

Whatever the medium, can “copying” be avoided? What is the line between emulation and inspiration? And how thin is that line? When you begin in an artistic industry, whether it be print or design or photography, can you even pull off true “creation”?


Pinterest is the garbage can of creativity. Think about it: someone does something incredibly innovative, we find it on the internet & then BAM! – it’s all over every wedding, baby shower or photography session out there. Instead of acting as a soundboard for ideas, it’s a place where you can go to find creative ideas without actually engaging in thought or creativity.


So, I switched my style up on Pinterest. It is now a place to gather images that serve as inspiration, not a source for imitation. You can check it out here.

I pull my ideas, especially for design, from many places. And from many other creatives. If I do much digging on any one blog or blogger, I find out where she/he is getting inspiration. Then, I can really see how that energy seeps into their own work. (For example, I loved the Jealous Curator‘s ¬†visual concept in her blog post about this very same video. Did I “cheat” in a way? Or am I just feeding off her energy, which she got from the article I referenced, which he got from Jay, which HE got from Marina?) Are any of us creating true and unique art?

Tell me in the comments what you think. Was what Jay Z did artistic or creative? Does Pinterest really suck? How do you define/determine what is imitation vs. inspiration?


[images pulled from video]

6 thoughts on “Imitation vs. Inspiration

  1. I’ve thought about this same thing before. I’m so tired of Pinterest and the way that in enables people to have awesome clothes, decor and throw adorable parties, without having any type of creativity at all. Don’t get me wrong, I go to it constantly for recipes and help with DIY projects. And I find it so easy to be sucked into the minty, chevron, leopard, burlap world that is Pinterest. You rarely see a wedding anymore (aside from yours and a few others) that don’t look like they came straight from a Pinterest wedding board. I think Pinterest makes people lazy and let’s them take creative credit for ideas they didn’t come up with me. (I’m as guilty as the next girl on this one). I think about high school and all of the original poster/sign/and school decor ideas we came up with on our own, especially yearbook. They were so clever and special, because we came up with them. We had to put all of our heads together and come up with something cool and original the only way we knew how. Now it seems like every prom theme, holiday party, and even engagememts are coming straighr from pinterest. But, if there wasn’t a Pinterest, or similar site, people would just be borrowing ideas from their friends and colleagues. I don’t think there is any way around the imitation. People are always going to borrow ideas that are cooler than their own. I think borrowing them is okay, as long as credit is given to the creator and you don’t try to imitate too closely. I think putting your own spin on someone’s creative property is flattering and a way to avoid direct imitation. That’s my take on the whole situation! Lol.

    • Eloise, I am learning more about her & loving what I read :) New Zealand…I need to go! It’s at the top of my hubby’s wish list.

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