No. 65

Stolen

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I’ve been writing on my inner wrist. At first, it was an experiment to see if I could stand a tattoo there. But it’s evolved into something else: a place for me to keep a reminder of what I want to focus on for the day. I’ve written my desires on my wrist, I’ve written words in ancient languages, I’ve drawn symbols that only I understand.

When I began reading May Cause Miracles, I decided that I would use the space to record a mantra in a word or two. I tweeted the first and someone commented that they loved the idea so much they’d be stealing it.

That happens a lot with ideas and the internet. The artists transform ideas they find into something new, something that could have come from no one’s hands or minds but their own. But there are many people who don’t put their personal spin on things, who do exactly what others have done before them.

I think when we start out — whether it be with a career or writing or blogging, it’s easy to want to stick with what’s been done because we’ve seen it work. I’ve seen bloggers try to reproduce A Cup of Jo with their blogs — Joanna Goddard’s style and wording and picks — and even gain lots of followers as a result. I’ve watched fashion blogs pop up whose photos or collections are close imitations of the big fashion bloggers. And let’s not forget the people who have gone into a career hoping to follow in their mentor’s footsteps — sometimes a little too closely. We do it part out of admiration, part out of a desire to attain the same type of success and recognition.

But the best stuff tends to be the new stuff, the edgy stuff. It’s Picasso and e.e. cummings and Alexander McQueen. It’s the voice of the brazenly unique individual.

It’s your voice. It’s my voice.

It’s the artist, not the imitator. It’s the one who sees what’s been done and finds that spin, who pushes the boundaries, who adds their own mark of beauty to the world.

You could be an imitation. You could play it safe. But you and I were meant for more than that. Let’s be art.

Your canvas is waiting…

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(A little note: I am by no means claiming that the person who left the comment on my photo is planning to imitate what I do rather than transform it — I hope she does just that. I’m very thankful she left that comment and gave me the opportunity to write this.)

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

6 thoughts on “Stolen

  1. I’ve been loving your instagram photos. This is such a lovely way to focus yourself, and I like that your reminders have a physical place in your life.
    I think sometimes people imitate others because they haven’t learned to trust that who they are and what they do is its own art and unique.

  2. My favorite bit of advice given to me by my textiles professor when we got into a conversation about using images in screen printing (I was using a Man Ray image at the time) is, “In art, it’s not stealing…it’s appropriation.” Creativity and design comes from all around you, and there are certainly those who play with the idea of copying something directly and what that can mean (like a photo realist image that looks identical to a photograph), but the vast majority of the time I think imitation is meant as the highest form of compliment. Sometimes riding the imitation wave allows designers, writers, creators find what they really wanted to make all along. But imitation with a personal twist is like a conversation, and the next person can pick up the new thing and move on from there.

  3. I think with art I tend to be more of an imitator. I see things and want to copy them in my own way, like portraits in pencil or turning a photo into a stipple drawing. I actually pride myself on getting every little detail right, especially with portraits. But that is definitely a very specific art form. I’ve never been a painter, especially in abstract. It’s probably why I so admire abstract painters, it’s something I can’t even comprehend creating myself.

    But when it comes to writing novels, I like to take what’s been done and put my own spin on it. I think my own creative mind at this point has become a melting pot of sorts, where I store everything I’ve seen and my own version of these ideas come out almost unconsciously in some variation or mix of things; if that makes any sense.

    In other words, I completely argree with you. I think creativity is an extension of who we are, but also an entity in itself. It becomes something new when it’s released out into the world.

  4. “it’s easy to want to stick with what’s been done because we’ve seen it work.”

    This is such an interesting thought. I think that in addition to being the student/mentee and having enough courage to take what you’ve learned and make it risky/new/different/better/worse, there is a responsibility for the teacher/mentor/source-of-inspiration to watch and honor the transformation – to wish it well and feel gratification that something new is growing. In order to move forward we have to create new work, new thoughts, new questions.

    Thanks for inspiring Brandi!

  5. I’ve been wanting to comment on this lovely post for more than a week, since I first read it. I have been loving the photographs on your instagram feed, and the beauty of writing these aspirations on your wrist. I think there is something freeing about using your own voice, shedding the desire to be like someone you admire (and never living up to them) and instead exploring all that you could be instead. Thank you.

  6. if this post isn’t inspirational, i dont know what is. wow, brandi. what an incredible 40 day journey you’re on. i’d love to hear your thoughts after you complete the 40 days. (it is 40 days right? I’m not sure where I got that information from. maybe instagram? haha) i can see how having a goal each day on what to focus on that will do wonders. i’d love to try something like this myself, but it might be too ambitious. just today at the end of yoga class, the instructor said that our homework was to “breathe deeply and slowly all day.” i gave it my all today, but found myself back to my old ways of shortened, anxiety-filled breaths. i’m still proud of myself for trying though, it’s better than nothing!

    also, i’d like to comment on the part where you talk about bloggers. it’s true. having a blog space is totally a reflection of yourself. as easy as it may be to imitate, it’s important to be yourself. i found myself lost so many times, but it’s a work in progress and i do want to stay true to myself! it’s been hard finding a niche, but that’s also the fun of it, it’s ok if you take twists and turns and let it grow and evolve in different directions. i once tried being a fashion only blogger, but i got lost in what it stood for. i can’t afford the items i’m writing about, so it doesn’t reflect my life. so i have to agree with you, just be yourself and it will feel natural. :)

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.