Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - so Oscar Wilde once said. But is it really true?
Are those copyists churning out cheap knock offs of designer goods being sincere? Or the plagiarists who pass off other people's work as their own? Unlikely, I would wager. Perhaps the full quote is more apt in these instances,
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness"
So in this day and age of fakes, forgeries and counterfeit goods is there any merit in the most quoted first part of the old saying? Maybe there is. Even if it's a tiny bit.
A while ago I posted up on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/habilephotography) this photo from a trip to the Vercors region of South East France.
All very nice alpine and serene. Some time later I received a message. It was from an artist (a proper one who used brushes and everything!) Sage Burks from Missouri. She really liked the photo and messaged me to ask if I would mind if she painted a version of it! Needless to say I said "yes"! I was so chuffed that one of my photos inspired a clearly very talented artist. That to me was true praise indeed!
As you can see her painted version is far from a slavish copy and there is no mistaking which is which. But the inspiration is there and plain to see.
When trying to create I think it is perfectly acceptable to take inspiration from other works. Chances are you'll approach it in a different way, within the realms of one's own experience, available equipment and ability (or lack of!!). This way it inevitably has a different look or style about it. It's also a good way to expand one's knowledge by trying to figure out how a certain technique is achieved. You could Google it if course but there's still no guarantee you'll execute it in the same way! Or maybe that's just me!
The artist Sage Burks didn't necessarily need to ask my permission and I'd probably be none the wiser, but I appreciated the fact she did and it made me feel very proud of my work. So perhaps if you've been heavily inspired by something why not drop the creator a message to say so?
You never know you might just make their day.