A lesson about creating your own work

Shawn Carney Art Because Cats

This image has nothing to do with what you’re about to read. They’re just cats. Why? Because cats.

So last night, I’m laying in bed noodling around on the interwebs before falling asleep. Yes, I know it’s bad for your sleep cycle, but if you knew me you would not be worried about my sleep cycle. I can nap with my eyes open in line at the bank. I can fall asleep practically on command. I’m basically one of those dolls from the 1970s with the eyes that close when you set it down horizontally. I am, in fact, probably asleep right now.

Back to my story.

I’m involved in a number of conferences and seminars at the moment in relation to my art career. I’m pretty much an over-soaked sponge, dripping with information from everything going on around me. It’s not a pretty metaphor, but it’s exactly how I feel. “DON’T FORGET ANY OF THIS! INGEST, DIGEST, ABSORB, ASSIMILATE!” A little stressful, but in a good kind of way. Like wiggling a loose tooth when you’re a kid and dreaming about trading it to the tooth fairy.

In my digital YOUMUSTLEARNTHISNOW feed is a discussion about intellectual property. I almost don’t bother to read it because I’m thinking that I create my own work and there’s nothing for me to worry about. But then I see they’re talking about using other people’s quotes. Famous or not so famous people and the things they’ve said. Motivational quotes. The sort of thing you see ALL over Etsy for sale. The sort of thing I personally had up for sale on Etsy (although I didn’t sell any yet) until this morning when I took them down.

Turns out, and I feel foolish for not knowing this, that there are only certain occasions when it’s ok to use other peoples quote in work you plan to sell. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of how you figure out when it’s okay and what to do about it. Other artists who’ve come before me have written some really useful ideas about how to navigate the rules that surround this. Read what they wrote. I did.

For me personally, I fretted a while before I finally fell asleep last night and when I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was to remove all images from my Etsy store that had quotes on them that were not written by me. I even went so far as to rework the drawings that had old proverbs on them so that they were new, updated Shawn Carney proverbs. I will not be taking any chances.

I might find inspiration in everything around me and love the work I see others doing, but ultimately I want to produce art that is exclusively mine.




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