is it stealing?

When I go to the galleries to see what’s going on in the art world, I’m there to be inspired by something new…something I haven’t seen before. So when I come across an artist whose work catches my imagination, I want to know all about their process and what techniques were used.

However, this is where it gets sticky for me. Hopefully the gallery people will have an explanation for what they’re showing. Sometimes though, they’re cryptic without a clear explanation of  how the work was accomplished. Or maybe, they’re just unwilling to share. I find it hard to understand this kind of secrecy since artists notoriously feed off of each other's ideas.

So the question is, if I get an idea to further my art from something I’ve seen, is that considered stealing? Over the years my art has evolved because of what I’ve been exposed to. Everything around me stimulates my work, and in turn, my work does the same for other artists. In my college days the professors called it, “borrowing.” We were sent out once a month to write reports on what was showing in the galleries and museums. Part of the report was to analyze what we saw and to discuss the techniques used. I learned early in my career to seek out artwork that excites me and to use parts of it in my own work. I go to the galleries to figure out my next step.

I find making original art requires a constant solving of problems. If I just repeat what I see, I don’t advance myself. I’m only painting someone else’s solved problems. The key for me is to take the art that excites me and somehow put my own spin on it...reinterpret it. In other words, I have to put my own thumbprint on it. I like to think that makes me part of the chain as I pass on my solved problems to other artists. For me this is not stealing but evolution.

If you don’t give your secrets away, you won’t get any back. I don’t think anyone gains from that.