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The Inspiration circle of Leaders vs Copy-Cat Followers

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During some research earlier today I noticed how similar the work of a friend looked to the work of a photographer who was popular 40 years ago. Let me take that back- it didn’t just look similar- it looked 90% identical. My friends work quickly lost a lot of value in my eyes- that is like tracing a Picasso and saying “Now I’m an artist!”

I had a conversation with another friend/photographer tonight who was concerned that his work was not good enough. It’s normal for an artist to express some concerns about their work with close friends from time to time when they start but I realized this friend spends a lot of time talking about what others are doing and trying to figure out how to get his work to line up with theirs more so people will like it better. And he doesn’t do that to take artistic license and create editorial style- he does it because he thinks that is the way to become good and respected. That’s like saying “Maybe if I get a tan and put on a suit I’ll be President like Obama!”

Here is the thing: leadership cannot be taught. You may get inspired by past leaders but true leaders are simply alpha individuals. They pick a direction and decide “I’m going this way.” They don’t need a lot of reassurance. Not everyone will follow them to the new place but people will come running as soon as they hear about the riches in the new land. Leaders move out of a general interest to do have things there way.

Also- leaders don’t spend a ton of time doing a bunch of homages of the same previous artist. You like Quentin Tarantino? Cool- throw in some references here or there but don’t try to cram as much or Pulp Fiction in to every film you do. You like Madonna? Cool- sample some of her music in a song but don’t start covering all her songs unless you want to be known as a cover artist. You like Irving Penn? Awesome- consider how he shoots but shoot your own content.

The fact is: if you want to conform: you’ll fail. If you want to do evil: you’ll fail. If you copy: you’ll fail. If you’re worried about what is trendy: you’ll be left behind and never create a trend in your life. Being original, doing good and going against the grain does not guarantee success but at least you will die knowing you lived life for yourself.

You may not be a leader- you my be a follower. That’s fine. just make sure you’re following the right people with a good cause. Otherwise you’re going to be fighting a losing battle.

And if you’re a leader: act like one. Leaders are great people and I suggest everyone take on leadership roles more often.

Written by Michael Donovan

24/03/2010 at 12:31 am

Posted in art, Life

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