I have learned a ton about how to better run my own business in this past year. One being in the realm of copying. Copying is such a gray area and especially in the art arena. It’s a constant check and re-check and re-adjust especially when it comes to networking, collaborating with friends, keeping good relationships, and being inspired.

This is a really sensitive topic for young small business owners… and any business owner for that matter. Apple keeps their new releases a top secret, others have official non competitor agreements, etc. But lately, in my small community of artistic friends i have seen some real broken hearts over this issue. And i have even seen online personalities publicly call attention to others personal copycat failures.  And i too almost got sucked into a bitter thought process. But that is not how I want to live my life or run my business. But, that is what inspired this blog post.

I have to be honest and say that I have definitely had my moments as an artist where I was a little too inspired by a particular idea, photo, or design. And I have also had those moments where I got this great idea… And realized it DID seem a little too familiar once I rendered it out… “Oh YA… that’s where I saw that…dang it!!” And then there has been many circumstances where I have seen my ideas/designs copied and I thought to myself “wow, that just doesn’t look very good”, or “hmm… there is something missing to that”.

Now, I totally understand that sometimes copying can be a good thing and help in the learning process. As an art student I had plenty of assignments where I would have to copy a famous painting technique, color scheme, or exact drawing. And I DID learn a ton in that process. But in the professional competitive business world it cheapens your brand.

The book, Rework, that I have shared with you before sheds some light on this topic, and why copycat projects turn out to be failures. Here is a little snippet of what I thought was really interesting and helped me view copying in a different way.

The problem with this sort of copying is it skips the understanding- and understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is the way it is. When you just copy and paste, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath.

So much of the work an original creator puts into something is invisible. Its buried beneath the surface. The copycat doesn’t really know why something looks the way it looks or feels the way it feels or reads the way it reads. The copy cat is a faux finish. It delivers no substance, no understanding, and nothing to base future decisions on.

Plus, if you are a copycat you can never keep up. You never lead; you always follow. You give birth to something thats already behind the times- just a knock off, an inferior version of the original. Thats no way to live. How do you know if you are copying someone? If someone else is doing a bulk of the work, you’re copying. Be influenced but don’t steal.

When the book talks about missing the “understanding”… I feel like that is the magic behind a photograph, piece of art, or design project. The magic is the invisible, the element that is Uncopyable. Therefore the original really captures and holds onto the magic that makes the project glow. You know what i mean? Have you seen that before?

So that is all i have to share today. I hope that this in someway encouraged you to keep doing what you are doing and not get caught up with what others are doing, or by the way they are doing it. I would love to hear any thoughts you all would have on this topic.

[DISCLAIMER] This blog post is not aimed at ANYONE!! And definitely not intended to bring out confessions (I have gotten some already today). You are all very sweet, but being inspired by others is part of the creative process too. My intention in this post is to encourage YOU to keep being yourselves and not get bogged down and discouraged by others copying you. Because in all reality, no one can BE YOU, you are truly unique. It is my deepest passion to see people inspired, freed, and truly liberated to create and make a living doing what they LOVE. PERIOD! So if anything I have said in this blog post makes you think differently… I would really like to take it down. Like you do… I too spend a lot of time in emails helping people, and encouraging others businesses. And I want to continue to do that. It is my passion.

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