Let’s talk about ideas, inspiration and copying

Well the title to this post and video is loaded, right? I could write a lot of text, but I would rather have you tune in to today’s video and you can give me your thoughts. After all-I have been having this conversation with myself all week, so it is about time I had it with someone else!

Oh! I won’t miss an opportunity to say that as I watched the participants  wrap up the Smart Creative Style Course, I was once again amazed at how their mood boards, ideas and values all shine so uniquelyHere are some of the most recent testimonials. It honestly humbles my heart and thrills me at the same time. (Ok, now this post has a lot of text…)

“Monica Lee’s information-packed Smart Creative Style course was pivotal in providing the clarity I needed as I attempted to figure out the direction of my art business. I discovered that my current style was different than the art I was making, which was leading a bit of a creative block. Her course allowed me to better understand myself and my style, so that I could focus on the direction I wanted to take my business. In addition, her supportive attitude, marketing advice, and interviews with other business owners was invaluable.”  -Pam Wingard Barefoot Studios Art

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Smart Creative Style Course!  My mind is spinning with information that I need to sort through, and I’m inspired to refresh and reinvigorate my style and my business.  I must say the most valuable part of it for me is the confidence gained and the clarity that a career as an artist is where I belong.  As a result of the class, I feel like I now have the tools to get my work seen and my voice heard in new and different ways. Thank you, Monica, for your encouragement, a wealth of information, and your well-planned course.  Thanks to Tom as well!” –Krista Hamrick

“Who would ever have thought great learning could be such fun? Monica’s Smart Creative Style course was a complete joy!  Whilst being a very fun and nurturing experience, SCS  enabled me to find much greater clarity in a number of important areas of my business. The aesthetic clarity I gained was further complemented by valuable insights into branding provided by Khali. Tom’s marketing advice was clear and concise and his quiet, calm delivery style a breath of fresh air amongst a lot of “ra ra ra” online marketing advice. The course also felt completely do-able within a busy schedule. A supportive FB group and inspiring interviews were the icing on the cake. I highly recommend this course to anyone who would like  to clarify their aesthetic and receive a lot of valuable support with their decisions on the branding and marketing of their creative business.” –Lyndy Hants

“Monica Lee is an open book – which is an excellent quality for a teacher!  Because I have been a long time follower of Smart Creative Women, I had high expectations for the Smart Creative Style Course and it’s safe to say that my expectations were far exceeded!  I adore how Monica mixed her charm and a bit of humor in with important topics.  She makes learning fun!  Her course motivates and teaches invaluable information in a delightful way and I highly recommend it to any smart, creative woman who wants to further her career! ” –Tori Higa

“I found Monica Lee’s Smart Creative Style course a week before it started while looking at other artist’s websites to get ideas for the layout of my own. I feel so fortunate that I did! The course gave me the ability to see the ‘Forest for the Trees’. It brought into clarity myself as a brand. I know what I like but had not been able to see it as a whole before the course. The visuals of The Pinterest boards were so fun to do and I loved seeing the ‘results’, how I came together as a brand visually, Truly a wonderful, fun experience! More clarification came from the interviews and informational videos on social networking, marketing, business values, and business owners speaking of their businesses, all of this about getting real and seeing the whole picture. As a package it showed me how, as a ‘Soloprenure’ I can make my business work for me. I wholeheartedly recommend the course!”- Tamara Somerfield


Since I mentioned art in the video, here are some great examples if you will excuse Monica’s- rough-memory-of-college-art-history!


  Conversion of Saint Paul is one of my very favorite paintings! Crazy foreshortening going on there.

 How are you going to bring what and how you see the world to your work today?


  • Thats great advice about ignoring your work getting “copied” and moving on. I see sooo many artists complaining left and right on facebook and blogs if their designs get stolen, mostly because the photos they posted werent watermarked, a reason as simple as that. Best to move on, thanks for this video!

    Ambika http://sunnyellowindow.blogspot.com

    • Watermarking is a good idea for sure and I know people can be rude and take the watermark out (sad) I think it is personal-if it hurts your own growth then make a plan to have it NOT get all over the web and I have seen creative ways of doing that. We all just need to morph into how the world is dealing with information today-and by that i DON”T mean giving up our income as creatives but think of the value on spreading ideas…oops! Lengthy reply!

      • becca

        I sell my work at shows and have had people grill me on my techniques and sources for materials and then tell me they are looking for something for their daughter to make and sell. it is unnerving but it has happened so many times i just get past it. there is a TED talk that speaks on this very subject and their line is that the copying is a form of flattery and that it is acceptable as long as you transform it in some original way. I cannot stop anyone from copying my work, it is very simple idea. I know i created it out of my own head.

  • BJ Lantz

    Good point. I know there is a term for it that I cannot recall ~ when two or more people have the same idea at the same time. I agree with you ~ don’t let it drag you down. This dovetails with the “comparison hangover” issue as well ~ when you spend hours comparing yourself to what else is out there. You eventually end up with a “hangover”, feeling like crap, beating yourself up, feeling like everybody else is doing it better than you, everybody else did it first, everybody else is more successful and you never will be, etc….

    • OH MY-comparison hangover-been there done that for sure!!

    • it’s the collective conscious… that it’s not so random that multiple people might think of similar ideas! honestly if you look at the history of inventions, a whole bunch of people in the world were working on the same thing, but only one got famous or the credit for it. I totally agree that it happens and we need to realize it happens! If we encourage each other, then both parties might move forward and then in different directions. I hate to think that a creative person is blocked just people she is afraid to infringe on someone / that is horrible, no?!

      Now when it comes to people who are friends and it’s obviously copying, that might be a totally different issue!

  • Sarah

    Great video post! What a wonderful way to look at this

  • Annie Chermak

    Ah, a breath of fresh air! Every day I hate the way I’m continuing to deny myself the opportunity to do what I’ve been called in life to do (ART, for gosh sake!) for the sake of security and a “real” paycheck (i.e., sitting at a desk pushing paper and answering the phone). I have NO body of work because I’m afraid everything I produce looks like everybody else’s stuff. So maybe, even if it starts out looking like what’s been done already, over time it will evolve to a different look — MY look? Put in the time and do the work! Will you do another class soon?

  • Melissa AuClair

    Great post Monica; this is a sensitive and tough issue. I wonder if part of it goes back to developing our own ‘style’ and artist hand by putting in the hours of practice and self-discovery until our work is reflective of us and who we are. Thank you for the encouragement to take the high road!

  • Such a great post Monica! And I have so many thoughts swimming around my head I don’t know where to start.

    There’s such a fine line between being inspired by something and copying the craft to learn from it and make it your own, and being inspired by something and copying it to sell it as your own. With the first you tend to be up front and not try to sell it until you have made it your own. The second may not be done maliciously, but over eagerly. People get recognition for something they haven’t quite made they’re own yet and think they can get away with it.

    Also, since we tend to follow people with a similar style to us who are where we are or slightly ahead, the lines do get blurred quite quickly. That’s part of the reason I take regular social media fasts. I used to have them once a year, but now social media is such a big part of my life I’ve realised I need them every few months, maybe once a quarter.

  • I wanted to say that I have faced a similar issue of thinking, well, my work isn’t so original or unique / so why move forward? But that is insane and why do only creative people subject themselves to this? Do hairdressers ever say, hey there are plenty of people who can cut hair this way, if I don’t think of a totally original way, why would I do it? Can you imagine if there were a variety of hairdressers out there!? LOL. Goes for all professions… everyone does contribute their own hand and even if it’s not so different, what is the problem? I would like to believe that there is room for everyone / as long as they are really doing the work… not the blatant copyright infringment, copy paste, anyway!

  • Foggy Highway

    I see a clear difference between a reproduction vs. copying a style, or approach, or idea. Particularly for someone who is beginning in their creative journey; copying is a tool for learning and exploring. I am a firm believer in copying, shamelessly. If that is the starting point, terrific! It will always be different from the source of inspiration (sometimes better, sometimes worse); and inevitably leads to something new. I have a tough time entertaining the artist’s ego. It is not inconceivable for two people to have the same or very similar ideas; and at some level, let’s face it, it’s all been done before.

    “There’s only one song, and Adam and Eve wrote it; the rest is a variation on a theme.” – Keith Richards

  • Monica, I’m late to hearing this. I think if someone is using your work or your idea as their own that is wrong. I understand what you mean about hearing so many things and forgetting where you got it from. That has happened to me and I try to tell people that. You seem to be bothered by it, but it seems like you think you shouldn’t be.