How to Be Inspired By An Artist Without Copying

jenna rainey

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How to Be Inspired By An Artist Without Copying

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Really inspired by your favorite artist’s work on Instagram and tempted to fall in the copying trap? I get it. Social media can make it reeeally difficult to put the blinders on and not be influenced by other people’s work and style. And there’s a fine line between copying and being inspired by another artist’s work. That’s a whole other topic! So how do we avoid copying another person’s work and take that inspiration to make something of our own? Let’s discuss.

Related: The Truth Behind Copying


How to Be Inspired By An Artist Without Copying 

#1: Color Palette

This is the easiest starting point for inspiration — color palette inspiration! It is a super common practice to look at another artist’s color palettes, whether they’re current or not alive, watercolor or oil painters, and use that inspiration in your own work. As an artist who is building a brand, however, it is important to develop a palette that is YOURS and that is consistent and cohesive to your work. But as a starting point, looking to outside inspiration for color combination ideas to incorporate into your own paintings and compositions is a great way to explore without copying. 

#2: Subject Matter

Let’s say you really enjoy florals and painting peonies in particular. Maybe you’re really inspired by Kelly Ventura’s work, for example, and her style of loose florals. Look at how you can tweak that subject matter by:

  • Changing up the composition/vantage point
  • Using a completely different color palette
  • Could you maybe try a different type of flower or bouquet?
  • What is the scale in her painting and how can you change that?

Incorporating as many as you can of the above changes will help to make it even more your own, staying inspired by what you’ve come across of her work without copying! 

#3: Perspective

This is sort of similar to the above, but let’s talk about changing the scale and vantage point a little bit more. Let’s say I’m inspired by someone’s painting of a dahlia flower bouquet. Could you change the perspective of that piece and do a more ditsy print style where you have small dahlias all over instead of a bouquet? What if you’re painting was a more “tossed” or pattern composition than a still life bouquet?


At the end of the day, explore your interests and explore your inspirations, but keep in mind that copying another artist’s work is never okay. If you’re looking to learn how to develop your own style, my online course The Art Within has a section dedicated to this, the elements of style and more! 

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