Down the Tunnel of Inspiration
If you're anything like me, you find it immensely satisfying when you see works of creativity that appeals to you. It sets off an admiration that bubbles up uncontrollably that I find no trouble giving. I remember flipping through picture books as a kid (my dad had an eclectic collection of random art books and magazines), and I could just sit there for hours just soaking up the illustrations, the color palettes, the thick and thin strokes. They would stay in my mind forever.
I soon found out that it's as much of a curse as it is a joy. It was difficult to forget these images, these sources of inspiration that would bombard me every now and then, and I would have this urge to refer back to it. It was a great tool at a commercial job when I needed to reference different styles, but it kept me from developing my own personal artwork for a long time. Because images tend to imprint themselves in my mind like a thin film, I felt I needed to produce work similar to whoever artist or whatever visual had plucked at my heartstrings during that week. It was a constant whirlwind of images in my head, to say the least. Often times, it felt like plucking teeth to pick out which were were my own and which were just influences.
Recently I've gotten into the habit of telling myself to stop looking so hard; to train myself to let go of other artists' visions, that they're not mine and I'm not heading down the same path. More likely in fact, a path that may not resemble in the least that of any of my artistic heroes. I've been trying to catch their likeness like catching falling leaves. Instead I should admire their colors, let them fall, and move on.
It is what the world does, after all.