This is an actual, real-life photo taken of myself and a colleague a couple of months ago. We turned up to work in the exact same outfit, mirrored perfectly, right down to the sunglasses on our heads.
You’ll have to trust me on this one due to the cropping above, but even our white tennis shoes were the same. Luckily, being the good friends we were, my pal and I found this hilarious, even posing for the picture above to indicate clearly that yes, we got the black jeans + breton top + leather jacket memo.
There could be no allegations of copying one another, as we both dressed in our separate apartments in separate areas of London and used separate methods of transportation to arrive at the office. It was simply a happy, if not slightly embarrassing, coincidence.
But that’s not always the case when it comes to expressions of creativity. Upon starting this blog, I found countless tips that told me to consume as much content as I could and take inspiration from that. Or find blogs I loved and write about the same things. Or look at respected blogs headlines and use these as prompts for my own posts. Some of this was great advice, some made me feel distinctly uneasy.
Where does inspiration stop, and plagiarism start?
Conversely, I’ve seen the comments I leave on people’s pages inspire their next posts. For this I have nothing but joy and gratitude. So why do I feel so naughty whenever something I read inspires me to write something else?
‘Am I copying?’ I invariably ask myself. Usually followed by a swift deletion of whatever I was about to create. I can’t come to terms with that feeling, despite how tenuous the link may be between the inspiration and my final output.
I find it extremely difficult to think of ‘outfits’ until I see them on other people. Equally, I would be clueless at furnishing my home without pouring over design magazines and Pinterest. I simply don’t have the eye for these things and can’t visualize how items will fit together in my mind. Fast forward to me questioning everyone I see on where they buy their clothes and replicating bathroom Pinterest boards almost verbatim, only to feel like a complete fraud afterwards and unhappy with the choices I’ve made. Perhaps I’m just experimenting to find my style, perhaps I’m ‘faking it until I make it’. But when will I know to stop faking it if I don’t at least try to generate some ideas on my own? And how will I generate those ideas without some form of inspiration? Where and when do you draw that line?
This post is more of a question than an answer, as it’s still something I’m struggling with. So is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery? Can copying ever be useful, especially for people starting out in their field? Or is this the antithesis of true creativity? I’d love to know what you think.