Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Effects Of Image Overload

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.


Heather said...

It's not that there are fewer and fewer unique ideas, it's just that the minute one sprouts up, it's emulated a million times over. It doesn't take away the uniqueness of the original idea though... it just makes it more mainstream after creation.
The key is to be recognized as the originator, or founding inspiration for a movement.

Amanda said...

I seem to have long breaks then come back slightly different. For many years I just made miniatures, bit I have'nt made one for ages. I was definitely influenced by anime, bigger heads, little bodies. Then the aged look, combined. I do think you are right, sometimes we see too much instead of just getting on with how we want the bears to be.

Bear Treasures by Melanie Jayne said...

I've been thinking about this for a few days too, and I always remember Selwyn my teacher at art college, now I thought this guy was unique and in my opinion he was! He always lectured "feeling unique is not uniqueness" I think it is some famous quote, anyway some years ago I was reminded of his saying. I saw an image of a little needle felted bear and I had a light bulb moment "what if I could needle felt onto a mohair bear?" so I googled needle felting, ordered the materials and tried to figure out how I could needle felt a muzzle, this was long before I had joined any forum or really researched the teddy bear world read books, or magazines etc. Anyway I figured it all out and did my first needle felted muzzle, I was so chuffed with myself, thinking I had come up with something so inventive and new, never been done before technique(yeah right) Then I joined a forum and discovered it had all been done before, so although I felt unique there was no uniqueness about it.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Hilary Smith

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