It’s been said through time…
“I try not to break the rules, but merely to test their elasticity.” ~Bill Veeck
I was looking for a quote I half remembered about the law – something to do with bending without breaking it, possibly from a Tom Cruise film, but I never found it – but I found instead a fascinating website full of quotes about conformity. I found a bunch I really liked, including;
“Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.” ~Author Unknown
“If you want to look like the people next door, you’re probably smothering yourself and your dreams.” ~Clive Barker
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Art and Originality
Most artists want to be original, the greats in any creative movement – be it Disney and his funny notion that feature lengths animations might catch on or Warhol and his block colour, pop culture screen prints – were always trend setters rather than followers. However, bucking a trend is not easy (many artists, such as Van Gogh, are never recognised in their life time because of it), often publicly unpopular and rarely, in a commercial setting, what the client wants. A good friend once said that you often had to show a mock up to clients because “you had to show them what they don’t want so they could tell you what they do.” Profound, huh?
But following the trend is rarely either satisfying for the artist or beneficial to the client.
“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh’s words bring to mind a dilemma a lot of commercial creatives – be they artists, web designers, film makers or animators – when it comes to a client who wants a “trendy” look for their product.
I was recently told by a friend who works in graphic design that they were asked to do something that they felt may contravene copyright. The client was set on doing something that was very fashionable and had fixated on a particular picture. The copyright issue was not clear cut, I would go as far as to say it was thorny, so my friend tried to work around rather than go through and suggested new ideas and variations on the theme.
The ideas were innovative and different and one half of the clients team liked them, but one of the group kept reiterating that they wanted a virtual duplicate of the image they had found. She, unlike her partners, was quick to crush any new thinking and make sure that her vision would be made… even if, in the wake of the ruling made in the Temple Island Collection Ltd vs New English Teas case, it may get them sued.
The scenario brought to mind this quote;
“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip, and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” ~Charlie Brower
I guess my friend could have walked away completely. Stuck to their guns and walked the nonconformist path, alienating the client and risking the barrage of bad press that that could generate. But they didn’t, they stuck with the client and, as far as I know, are still trying to compromise the clients vision enough to keeps things legal. Which brings me to this quote:
“Lots of times you have to pretend to join a parade in which you’re not really interested in order to get where you’re going.” ~Christopher Morley