|Image: Gas Walker I by soulburn3d|
An example is the artwork Gas Walker I by soulburn3d on deviantArt. Depending on your own influences, you might see something here that reminds you the movie Alien, or the video game Mass Effect. For me, it looked a little like a shadow ship from the TV series Babylon 5. But Babylon 5 is hardly the 'prime mover' of influences. They too took from what was around them to create the overall design scheme of the series. I like to think the designers said, "Hey, we have to create the spaceship for the creepy bad guys - so what looks really creepy?" Well, why not pick out things that actually do creep and put them together? You can't get much more basic in your influences than forms of life that have been around for tens of thousands of years.
|Basic math equation for creepy ship|
|That one might have crash landed|
As I noted, the idea that we should wear our "influences proudly" really appeals to me. We all have them, and being conscious of our inspirations allows us to (A) give them proper credit and homage, and (B) see more clearly how we can use our personalities in combination with our inspirations to produce something that carries our own unique fingerprint. Perhaps the only real way to know if we have generated the next new vision is if we then become inspirations for the generation of artists and writers that follow us.
Image Credits: Artwork - Gas Walker I by appears with the generous permission of soulburn3d, Neil Blevins, on deviantArt. Artist soulburn3d is a professional digital artist. "I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. Raised in Canada on a healthy dose of scifi and fantasy films, books, and videogames, I began painting and drawing traditionally, and then got into the computer, making 3d graphics and painting in 2d digitally. Professionally, I've created art for animated features, live action, videogames, TV, ride films and album art for companies like Blur Studio, and Pixar, where I currently work as a Technical Director." Spider image from, J. Coelho on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0. Crab image, Dancing with Ghosts on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0. Shadow ship, Babylon 5 series promotional image. Mercury Image, NASA Messenger mission, NASA/JPL/APL.
Your "basic math equation" is a great visual for how inspiration can work. It also makes me laugh. But it looks like it could have been exactly what some designer did.
As a poet, I have often used poems or a poet as a direct influence for my work. Sometimes it's awesome. Sometimes, like when I decided to take my cues from Sylvia Plath, it fails spectacularly. So occasionally I have to admit that I'm just never going to be able to add anything new or interesting to what a previous writer did so well.
I think we can give ourselves unfair pressure when we compare ourselves to our very favorite writers. We have a bias in favor of them, so it is no wonder we feel like we'll never write so well. But other people may actually prefer our writing because of our voice or form, who knows?
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