Creativity used to be so simple. You thought of an original idea, developed the concept, and finalised the product. Your ideas were simply your own, as there was no where else they could have come from, and no one else who could instantly take them from you. Nowadays, you have 2.8 billion people worldwide who have access to what you are thinking as soon as you tap it into your iPhone and press the Tweet button. The internet, and most predominantly – social media, has completely reformed the way we access information and share our ideas. As a result of this, the creative industry has been blown out of proportion, making it significantly more difficult to have that light bulb moment that is indicative of a good idea. At times, it can feel like everything has already been done. No matter what you think of, you key it into google and find someone has already thought of it. It’s an artists worst nightmare, and also their greatest blessing.
Which is why I ask, is social media a blessing or a curse?
This is a difficult question to answer, as social media has helped thousands, if not millions, of people reap success by using platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and various blogs to showcase their creative talent. It allows artists to reach their audience efficiently and almost effortlessly. It gives them a platform to display their work and develop a following. Those in creative fields are never short of inspiration. The next project muse is a simple ‘hashtag search’ away.
Despite the countless perks of social media to a person in the creative industry (and there are oh so many perks), I’d like to draw your attention to some of the downfalls. With so much access to so much content it is easy to get stuck in the spiral of replication. And let me tell you the latest news, imitation is no longer the highest form of flattery. As creative people in a creative industry, our ideas are the bread and butter of what we do. They are what keeps a roof over our heads. They are the substance to our work. ‘Copying’ an idea is now utterly offensive, and it’s becoming harder to separate exactly ‘who thought of what’. This is a topic currently trending in digital media among the fashion industry, as we are seeing countless cases of companies stealing designs off those with less power and influence. These powerhouse companies (eg Pretty Little Thing) have the producing power of a popcorn machine and access to resources that independent artists don’t have. Those with less reach, less money and less power are being ripped off by these corporations.
An example of this in recent news is Zara, the company searches indie artists’ Instagram pages, takes their designs, and prints them on their clothing with no recognition or royalties to the artists. In one case, an artist they had stolen designs from (@tuesdaybassen) had her lawyer get in touch with Zara, their response was ‘you have no base as you are an indie artist and we are a major corporation. Not enough people know about you for it to matter’.
This is a tale as old as Instagram as it is happening all over the fashion industry, Forever21 doing the same thing to independent artist Sandy Liang. Even Kim Kardashian repetitively ripping off the classic style of Naomi Campbell and labelling it her own. It’s big dog verses little dog and in this battle, the little dog ends up majorly ripped off.
Not only is this theft in plain sight, but it is disheartening to all the designers, artists and content creators out there who put their heart and soul into an idea, only to have it ripped off by someone with a bigger following.
So tell me, is social media a blessing to the creative industry, or a curse?