Ok, probably my problem is that I am not as creative as I would like to think I am. But this isn't some "poor me" fest, it's a proper, "What am I doing with my life?" questioning period.
As a belly dance teacher and performer I am questioning everything at the moment. I have a niche that I should probably run into head-long but as usual I am questioning my ability in this very niche area (I'm mainly rubbish at self-promotion) but I'm beginning to understand that it IS something I should do and be more proactive about.
Other creative areas in my life are making costumes for fusion belly dancers and making eclectic and experimental (for me) jewellery. I'm at a hiatus with both but try and push myself with the jewellery making and keep getting custom work coming in so I have to keep going or my brain will explode (and so will my house as there's no room to keep everything).
In a bizarre head-rush of fusion this week there were two posts from belly dance costume design crushes of mine about, 1) copying styles and how crap that is and, 2) offering tutorials which free you up, give you licence to use what you've learned to make things you can sell as your own and how that might influence your own path.
When discussions of this type start I am always brought back to a blog post by someone who influences a great many jewellery makers, Marina Rios, aka Fanciful Devices.
More recently this worldwide discussion relates to me buying a tutorial about making polymer clay pieces and focals. A great many jewellery designers and makers seem to have come across this tutorial and have sucked in every iota of information that was expressed, and i'm sure that they were as greatful as I was to have it all so clearly explained.
Today there was a post on FB in a group I'm in (Tribal Fusion Bellydance UK) about cultural appropriation and the discussion that followed was about how we all felt about throwing things into the mix. Should we use markers from other cultures that we love because they look beautiful to our eyes or should we only build in a personal story about how we cannot add these because it is inappropriate, even to people who will now gift us or sell us those markers? (Saris and bindis being the bigger players in these stories). This is a difficult subject to approach because amongst other trades the Silk Route and the Spice Trade both brought benefits to the cultures they came from, and to the cultures they arrived at. In the same theme should assemblage jewellery makers use religious medals, crosses and sacred beads in their work? If a jewellery designer understands the cultural mix that is implicated by using elements from a different culture and yet comes from a country and was brought up in a culture that uses images and symbols that are both important and common but that they have decided not to assign a meaning, does this make their work art or the bastardisation of entitlement?
Within this mix I always come back to the most influential blog post by the inspired jewellery maker Marina Rios/Fanciful Devices who thoroughly encourages people to copy her as she understands that it is by copying and then by experimenting after copying that one finds ones own space. She understands, and knows from sales, that her skill is never really hit by anyone who tries to copy her outright.
Should we copy someone we admire? Should we, can we copy from a person or a culture that we admire and aspire to emulate? Does it inspire us or constrain us?