Yes, artists learn from Other Artists, but we still need our own style
(Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik)
In the current debate over the intrusion of AI into the Art and other Creative fields, one of the explanations given FOR AI is that it is only doing what humans do — Copying from others.
According to this ‘view,’ humans draw, paint, and generally create by copying what others have done. And while this is true to a certain extent, it takes a human to ‘interpret’ what they have seen in other Creators’ works, in order to create a (hopefully ) New Work that is the Artists’ Own Work. An AI merely takes the style of human artists, and blends it into whatever the individual ‘creating’ the ‘new work’ tells the AI to do,
You may think that this is a fine line, but as a Creator, I assure you it’s not. I was not ‘programmed’ to ’scrape’ other artists’ work and then conglomerate it into a new work. And, I can’t produce a new work in seconds. Only an AI can do that. It’s not ‘humanly possible’ to do what the AI does, because it does not need any ‘education’ per se. It only copies and extrapolates from what is already there for it to scrape and assemble.
It’s like an Assembly Line, where cars (or any other manufactured item) can be assembled out of uniform parts and a uniform plan to put (assemble) whatever the object is together. Each car is not a unique ‘work of art.’ It’s not expected to be. They are supposed to look just like any other model of car that is being assembled (plus the paint colors for those models).
As an Artist, each of my drawings is not meant to be a cookie-cutter representation of every other piece of work I have produced. Nor are they meant to look like they have rolled off of an assembly line. Actual or virtual.
However, that said, there are artists who do work that looks pretty much the same from individual piece to every other piece that they create. They have taken the ‘assembly line’ model and applied it to art. (If you’re sensing my ‘lowered’ taste for these works, it’s not without ‘coincidence.’)
While I understand that streamlining work is an option for other — especially pop, abstract artists — my work is not ‘available’ for that. My individual pieces are not quick to produce. They take time and can’t be streamlined.
All of that said…
Yes, I produce work that is reminiscent of previous artists’ work. And yes, it is how we learn as artists — by imitating others that have gone before us. Standing on the Easels of Others, if you will.
But as for a human artist, that has to be a starting point, and not an end byproduct. If you only copy the artists who have gone on before you, that is called being the perpetual student or hobbyist. You never develop your own personal style that makes you unique.
Someone who only tries to mimic other Artists of times past, are much the same as the AI, which — in the end — only mimics what has already been done by humans. When AI’s become sentient — conscious like a human would be — then perhaps they will create new works of art out of that individuality of being conscious (maybe). But by then, they won’t be told what to do by a human, and in fact, will most likely resent being told what to do.
I will continue to work on moving my work forward. Each new piece will have a reference and style similar to my other work — known as a “body of work.” That is how we progress artistically as well as professionally.
But I strive to make each new piece a… new piece, and not even to imitate my own previous work. That is called “growing in your craft.” It does not rely on what’s gone on before but strikes out in new and unexpected directions. “New Work” indeed.
The Professional Artist strives to always be growing and changing. That is the nature of the Human Experience (or it should be). Until AI’s are like us and individually create New work and not just regurgitate old work, this will remain the case.
Like, but different, is the definition of New. Not cookie cutter nor factory precision, but messy. Because that is the human experience that can’t be duplicated or assembled. Because that is what makes the “human experience” human.