E-Literate: Being Original Isn’t Everything

So our peers are judging originality these days. Image Courtesy: Devon Buchanan
So our peers are judging originality these days. Image Courtesy: Devon Buchanan

By Ethan Harmon

I’ve noticed when it comes to movies, books, comics, music, hell, any form of art really; there is a huge misconception when it comes to the idea of originality. A lot of reviews or critiques of art always seem to revolve around the idea of whether or not this artist was original, or if the art itself is original. Of course, if the form of inspiration is clear, or if someone can pinpoint the origin of the idea, then it does not fall into the category of originality, and thus, suffers because of this. “Oh wow, that’s not original at all!”

Now, this way of thinking is the incorrect mind-set when trying to analyze art. Being “original” is not everything. And, in all honesty, originality is almost impossible. Just think about it for a moment. Most, if not all ideas are drawn from inspiration. Another work of art, a book, a poem, a phrase, an image; literally anything can inspire. But, if you are drawing ideas and crafting something from this inspiration, then is this new creation an “original” concept? It might have a different appeal or center focus on something else, or perhaps just tip-the-hat to what inspired the idea in the first place, but does that mean that it is brand new?

Look, I understand that we all want to be unique and original with our art. I’d love to think that this article is something that just popped into my head, or my comic book is a masterpiece of my unique, original mind. But I would be lying to myself. Certain aspects that gave me the power and drive to write and the first place helped me determine and craft the pages of my comic book. A simple conversation I had with a fellow writer gave me the idea to discuss the definition of “originality.” You see? “Originality” is just an elusive and impossible concept to actually follow.

Now, this should not discourage anyone at all. Art takes time and dedication. Art requires sacrifice and forces you to put your entire being into a medium that dignifies and justifies yourself. It is the most difficult, yet rewarding thing in the world. Being “original” does not make your art better. Finding unique, new ways to take inspired concepts, mold and shift them, and create art that means something to you is the real reason we do art. If it means something to you, and you did everything in your power to make this creation mean something – or express something – then you have succeeded. Don’t focus on being “original.” Focus on yourself.