For the first two thirds of my career if I wanted to see other artist bears I had very few choices. I could go to a show, shop or read a bear magazine/book. In the very beginning there weren't even many of those options. As a result there were long periods of time in between when I didn't see any bears but my own.
With the onset of the internet we have the option to reach a much larger audience. But we also have the option to look at bears for hours on end if we choose to. Even if we don't choose to, it's almost hard to escape seeing any from just reading blogs, looking at websites, forums, going to ebay or etsy, etc.
Recently a group of us were asked the question what makes your bears unique. That question is a lot harder than it used to be. While I wasn't the first person to make distressed, vintage looking bears...I was one of the first. The style I did it in was unique. But no longer, many people make similar bears to my style. (I am in no way suggesting they copied me.)
A while back I saw something rather unique that another artist had done. Within two weeks a dozen other artists were incorporating that thing into their bears. While there is nothing wrong with that, and it's something that we all do at some point...I found myself wondering if it's really possible to remain truly unique now?
Trends in art spread through the world at a frightening pace. I am not so sure you can be completely unique anymore. You can develop a recognizable style, but that's about it.
What impact is image overload having on us? Do we even realize it? I know that over the years my bears have been effected. Mostly in shape. I lean a teeny tiny bit more towards that chibi style than I used to. They have larger heads and lower set eyes than they used to. When I changed the shape of the bears I didn't even realize at first that I was influenced by a popular style. In retrospect I certainly was.
It's not just bears this is happening to. It is happening in every venue of art. I wonder if image overload is homogenizing the art world to a degree? They say there are no new ideas, and I am sure there haven't been for a long time. But with every pixel posted to the internet...there are fewer and fewer unique ideas.