Day 33: Inspired

I was reading an article yesterday about plagiarism. It was someone having a go at another artist who had happened to become successful at a young age but along the way had quite obviously borrowed a few ideas from other artists. Though ‘the complainer’ had a point, I felt he lacked a certain amount of grace towards ‘the complainee’ who had happened to have built up a profile and a certain amount of success by accident and maybe hadn’t expected that level of attention that they received at that whirlwind of a pace. It basically struck me that maybe ‘the complainer’ was a bit jealous really and maybe thought he might get a bit of a profile for himself out the fuss he was making… so I’m quite glad I’ve forgotten his name. One thing he said though was something along the lines that artists are not true artists unless it all comes directly from their heart. Kind of true- ish but your heart is full of experiences, people, sights you have seen, songs you’ve heard and its impossible for any artist to produce something totally independent of anyone else’s ideas.
I’ve been thinking about this issue a fair bit this week actually as I’ve been working on a song for GoldDigger and in working on the melody for the verses I can’t quite work out if its too familiar because it’s been ticking over in my head for the past week or so, or because its a total rip off of something I’ve heard before… I’ve got to challenge that in what I do – On the other hand I spend an hour in the studio with my brother who managed to recreate the theme tune almost exactly to Deal or No Deal having never seen or heard it before – luckily I was around to let him know! Sometimes we don’t know where our ideas come from but as purely as they come from who we are … who we are actually is made up of a certain amount of us, as in how God created us to be and a certain amount of inspiration, people who have shaped us, things we have seen, what we’ve been taught – all jumbled up to make us who we are and to give us the creative ideas we produce.
How sad would it be if we tried to ignore every scrap of inspiration which didn’t come strait out of our heads, we’d have to walk around with our eyes closed, never listen to music, never read a book, never watch a film, never look at a painting… all to keep our own creations totally pure and original. Holly and I were chatting in the car this morning on the way to church about stories we love and have loved in our lifetimes. I was telling her how much I love the work of Lauren Child, writer and illustrator and creator of Charlie and Lola. It struck me what an amazing influence that woman has had on our family life. I found a book called “I am too absolutely small for school’ (I’ve even linked through to amazon – this book deserves showing off!) when Holly was a few months old – it was a 3rd book in a 3 for 2 and I liked the style of the illustration – that’s how it came into our house. I loved reading the story to Holly, she was far too young for it but by the age of 1 all she wanted to do was read this book and she learned to walk and talk so that she could bring it to me and say ‘read’ and we read it to her no less than 10 times a day. There were a few more of her books available more books so we snapped them up, and soon someone more important than us saw the talent in these stories and started Charlie and Lola as a TV series. Holly grew up talking like Lola, acting like Lola and learning so much, all because she fell in love with a story, now tatty and ripped as the love of this story has passed on to Elijah. So many of our family ideas, the language we use, the cutting and sticking nature of my design work, and the memories of their childhood are all wrapped up in something a woman called Lauren Child created. Its crazy to think she will never really understand the influence she has had on our family.

One step stranger than that is what she writes on her website about the creation of Lola.
When I was on a train travelling through Denmark, I saw a little girl. She had very blonde hair and pointy eyes like an elf. She was colouring and sticking while she chatted non-stop her parents were trying very, very hard to read their books.
Although I couldn’t understand what she was saying there was something about her that was mesmerizing and she had a cheekiness about her that was attractive.
When I got home I drew her as I remembered her in a little dress with trousers underneath. then I tried to think of a story that would work with her character.

That little girl will grow up never knowing she had such a major role in creating something that now inspires SO MANY children – but what an amazing thing to have done.
That’s what I think success really is. Financial success is not attractive, not even tempting compared to the privilidge of having influence and inspiring people – that’s what I admire about successful people anyway- not what they have but what they’ve creatively done with what they’ve got. So how important is it to me to be successful? For me success is providing people with tools, for life; whether its the way they remember how I handle a situation and can be helped or taught by that, the way a story I share might challenge or encourage someone, when someone says they’ve been listening to a song I’ve written on repeat on their Ipod to help them through a tough time (thats the best feeling ever!), when a phrase or a small thing we might say in one of our girls sessions stay with a girl and change the way they see themselves for the better. That’s the most amazing thing I could ever hope for. And its amazing too to think that you might never know the effect you have by what you do.
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