Unfinished Notes on the Dangers of Over-Worship
I had planned to write about the concept of over-worship, and how it’s possible to like an artist or photographer to such a degree that you try to emulate them and forget about who you are and your individuality. Well, the weekend was crazy, dealing with many artists picking up their work at OCCCA, the Oscars, maybe a little too much wine, and so I didn’t quite finish the article for today morning. So here are my notes from the article, taken mostly in dictation on my iPhone. Somehow I think maybe they’re more effective than a finished article anyway…
Don’t say why you like them, say how they’ve influenced your work. – more than just being good and inspiring you, they have REASONS for doing what they do. And you don’t necessarily have those reasons. And doing it because you like them is not a reason, it’s a copout.
When I grow up, I want to be just like him. NO YOU FUNKIN’ DON’T
It’s OK to be influenced, it’s OK to try out the ideas of someone else, it’s OK to acknowledge that someone has had an influence on you, but geez, you don’t want to be just like them, they have skeletons, and you have your own, and they won’t mix well together at all.
I realize that coming into your own can take time, and you might need a little help and guidance along the way.
Disperse the influences of other artists within yourself, thus blurring any indications as to where these influences came from in your own work.
Try imagining that you ARE a great photographer. One of the famous ones…and you’re walking around taking photographs. You have complete confidence in your abilities. You know that you have the skills to pull off a great shot. The shot that you take is going to become famous, and sell for quite a large sum. When you die, it will be auctioned off for an even larger OH FUCK! WHO ARE YOU KIDDING?? THE FAMOUS GUYS PROBABLY DIDN’T HAVE ANY MORE CONFIDENCE THAN YOU DO! THAT’S HALF THE BATTLE, OVERCOMING YOUR FEARS TO REACH YOUR GOALS! BUT YOU NEED TO DO IT YOURSELF, OTHERWISE YOU DON’T GET NO CANDY!
Yeah, OK just be yourself. Breathe through your own nose, see through your own eyes.
Don’t feel like you have to create in a certain style just because you know that style to be great or at least perceived to be great. Have faith that you have a point of view of your own.
Look! What I created here looks just like so-and-so’s work. Well that’s a great place to start but it’s only a beginning. Congratulations on having taken someone else’s journey without the journey part. You can’t reach a meaningful goal without first taking a meaningful journey. And as with any meaningful journey it may take a while to get there.
Linda brings some of her photos to class. She’s very proud of them. She shows them to the class and they love them. The teacher loves them. They look just like just like Henri Cartier-Bresson, the teacher says. Well he’s my favorite photographer, Linda states. I love his work, and you’ve given me such a huge compliment! I can’t thank you enough! Linda leaves the classroom completely satisfied. She goes home and celebrates. A few days later, she’s still very happy and satisfied. She decides to go out and take some photos. She walks along the street but everything looks the same, as if she’s seen if all before. She has a new perspective, one of peace and relaxation at having accomplished something real and true. She realizes that what she’s doing now is a bit of a waste of time, since she has no real desire to show any of her work to anyone anymore. She’s somewhat board. The challenge is gone. She reached her goal of being just like her hero. If she’s lucky she’ll find something else to occupy her time.
I place you on a high pedestal.
I don’t understand, why did you place be here?
Because I believe you can do no wrong. Everything I am, everything I want to be, is you.
Why the hell would you want to be me?
Because if I can be like you, I won’t have to worry about being me. I don’t have enough confidence in myself to be me.
Well, I didn’t have lots of confidence either. But I combined myself with other people and influences, but keeping myself in the front. I’m not so original or perfect.
But you seem so confident in yourself.
I’m really not as confident as I look. I just do what I do and hope for the best.
OK then get off that damn pedestal.
Why would anybody want to believe everything someone else says. Don’t take their word for it, form your own opinion.
If we want to advance as a society, we can’t think like everyone else. On the other hand, if everyone thought completely differently there would be chaos.
The more you worship another artist the less time you have to think for yourself.
The more you worship another artist the less you believe in yourself.
Replace worship with experimentation.
over-worship equals over acceptance of the way things have to be.
over-worship is like finding what you think is the answer without asking any questions.
It’s like blind faith.
over-worship is cheating.
Use the work of other artists as a guide, not as an ultimatum.