Define Originality

Can you define what it means to be original? There is a very likely chance that even your definition is not that original in itself. Does original mean to be totally different? Or does it mean to be a slightly different version of something pre-existing, but still calling it your own? According to Merriam-Webster, an original (used as a noun) is a document, film, painting, etc., which is created by someone and from which a copy or translation is made. After reading that definition, is anything we create “new” or is it just a remix?

Either way, remixes or copies of something that has already been made are not all bad. We learn to imitate and copy others as small infants. Without that imitation, we couldn’t be proper human beings. Every creature on earth learns to imitate others for means of survival in every day life. However, we’re not talking about life or death situations right now. Imitations, copies, remixes, whatever you want to call it are in some ways creative. We live in a remix culture where our society encourages and allows us to take content that has already been created and slightly alter it to make it even more different. Almost everything we do is created from something else in imitation.

Typically when we think of remixing, we think of music and musicians. Music has been building off the works of other artists for years. Different beats, riffs, choruses, and whatever else you can think of have most likely been used in more than one song by more than one artist. I think that is what makes music so interesting and so extremely versatile. Artists can take one genre of music totally different than their own and remix it to make something totally different for themselves to use. Music isn’t the only thing that gets copied in some form. Paintings also have their own form of remixing. Edouard Manet, a 20th century painting, is known to be the most original and ground-breaking painter of his time period. His most famous painting Olympia, depicting a nude prostitute and her African maid, was considered that most shocking work of that time. However, Manet clearly pulled inspiration from the 16th century painter Titian and his painting, Venus of Urbino. When displayed side by side, they have several similarities. So does this make Olympia any less beautiful or any less creative? Not necessarily. Manet took his inspiration and made it his own, just as many artists in today’s world do.

Manet's Olympia with Titian's Venus12IFW-ALTUZARRA3-v2-jumbo

So what else gets remixed? Lets take a look at fashion. Recently, New York Fashion Week Spring 2016 took place in various locations around New York City. Several successful designers showed their new clothing lines for large audiences with highly elaborate fashion shows. However, if you look at this year’s trends you will notice some things that look vaguely familiar. For example, tie-dye patterns that were extremely popular during the 1960s and 1970s found themselves on season’s runways. Designers such as Altuzarra, BCBG Max Azria, Thomas Maier, and Thakoon all used tie-dye in their clothing lines this season. I guess it is just like my grandma says, you should just keep your clothes because the trend will come back around some time.

While remixing does beg to question if anything is original anymore, it doesn’t question creativity. I believe it takes some sort of creative spirit and intuition to take something already in existence and change it into something different. Creativity is born from inspiration. To be inspired, you use your creative mindset to be open to new possibilities in creating something of your own. Don’t be afraid of remixing things for your own creative spirit, embrace it.

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