Haluk SAFI / Inspired or Copied? Standing On The Right Side Of The Line! (Issue 52)

Rome was not built in a day. Humanities have risen over time. According to scientists, the brain structure of a man living in stone age was the same as the capacity of our brain. So much so that, if a stone age boy could come to our day, he would have graduated from college, starting from kindergarten. However, when we look at the works carved or painted on the walls of caves, we cannot see a Rembrandt or a Picasso.

Like Humanities, art has undergone a similar process of development. The works are built on each other, but what makes them different from each other, and the artist’s accumulated knowledge, which is adorned with new ideas, is realized in his works.

People are affected by all kinds of images they see in their environment, the words they hear, the articles they read, the advertisements, namely, all kinds of verbal and visual input. These effects create different accumulations in every person. People begin producing or copying the first thing they see, then copying it over and over again. At the end, the production or activities of each person in line with his or her own perception of life or things begin to differentiate from the ones of others. In fact, Yohji Yamamoto expressed this approach as follows: ‘start copying what you love. Copy, copy, copy. You’ll find yourself at the end.’ At the beginning of this process, the works you produce will be the result of imitation.

Naturally, there is nothing surprising about that.

In fact, history has begun copying everything from nature and has developed these copies over time.


In early Greek mythology, Greek artists believed that artistic inspiration came from above and their ideas were sent directly by Gods such as Apollon and Dionysus. Inspiration is a natural behavioral state. At first, the artists were inspired by the nature around them, and as the years passed, they were inspired by many other things around them. So much so that, from music they hear, from poetry they read, from stories, from beliefs, from the ways they walk, from other works of art they admire and appreciate, even from the wind, from rain, from everything they perceive or feel at that moment…

The word inspiration literally means;

– Being inspired by something, having an intuition, having a hunch (TDK).

– It is possible to define the action of inspiration as a new work by taking advantage of a previously produced work, but it is possible to define it as being independent of the original work (Sengel, 2009, p.128).

The success of the artist depends on the depth of his pre-inspired research and the amount of his pre-inspired quality work. In short, the muse comes when we go after her, not when you sit and wait for her. There are so many things around us that we can take inspiration from. Some artists receive inspiration from other artists, while others receive inspiration directly from their experiences.

Different things trigger a different inspiration in every person. Therefore, instead of looking at the inspiration of other artists, it would be appropriate for us to turn to what really inspires us.

Inspired to take shape, different from the original work…

Is creativity dependent on genes, or is it possible to have advanced levels of creativity through education?

I’m not going to go into this very important but basic debate because this article would exceed its purpose. However, let us turn to James Webb Young’ book titled “A Technique for Producing Ideas” to refer to some sections of his book. The following method is mentioned in the book:

1- draw and select the topic you want to work on as your target, such as “Coffee Houses In Istanbul”. Determing your boundaries is a very critical stage; to benefit from this method, it is basically important to draw the borders correctly. Boundaries may be wider or narrower than they should be.

2- determine the resources; after the borders are drawn, all kinds of resources should be used in relation to these limits. Read, talk to people, listen, see, visit…

Above all, get out of your comfort zone. Discuss the topic by considering various sides to activate different perspectives on the subject you set boundaries for.

Read books, blogs, visit exhibitions, observe your target audience, even get involved, listen to their respective music, read their poems, study traditional arts, and take notes.

3- fully digest what you have learned;
– Organize collected materials
– work precisely on the materials
– bring them to a story-telling form
– put all the pieces together.
– create a mind map

4- stop the research; now, the materials you have collected have been accumulated, they have been digested, and your thoughts have reached the time to reside. It is recommended that you stop working at this stage. During this period, the work should be “left fallow” and the subconscious work should be ensured. It is recommended that you always keep a notebook with you because you never know when ideas will rise from under your subconscious.

The lack of ideas after all is generally considered to be due to the fact that the boundaries are not drawn to meet the purpose; it’s either too narrow or too wide. At this stage, it is useful to return to section 1, your boundaries.

This method will give you new ideas. The important thing is how to put these ideas into practice.

The Basic Elements Of Creativity

“Where do good ideas come from?”in his speech at TED conferences, Steven Johnson (2010), a popular scientist, expressed his views on the subject as follows:: “We have a rich vocabulary that we use to describe inspirational moments. We have words in our brain like a flash of lightning and a frozen stay when inspiration comes; ‘Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.” Our memories, even the light bulbs in our brains… all these concepts share a single simple prejudice, even though they are flashy rhetoric, that is an idea is usually a concept that arises in a spectacular and enlightening moment… especially if you start on the basis of a new idea. I mean, inside our brains, it’s like: an idea, a new idea, a new neural network that is triggered in our brains, synchronized with each other. It is a new sequence that has not appeared before.”

Kirby Ferguson has published an ambitious four-part documentary on the historical and cultural significance of creation, based on sampling and collaboration, which adopts the deep belief that creativity is a combination of creativity, called “Everything is a remix.”

A creation starts when you create a new work by combining existing works or works with the knowledge possessed.

Isaac Newton also supports this theory. ‘If I can see ahead, it is because I stand on the shoulders of the giants (masters) that existed in the past.’

As we count the ingredients of the above and as we are aware, inspirations are presented to our consciousness by moulding our experiences under the consciousness as a combination of everything they read, see, travel, taste, and touch. For this reason, our consciousness cannot realize exactly where these new inspirations came from.

The most dramatic original results can appear when ideas are combined. By combining ideas, creative leaps have been made that reveal some of the greatest moves in history.

An idea, a new idea, is a new neural network in our brain that is triggered synchronously with each other. It is a new sequence that has not appeared before.

Copy, but how much (Copy Speed)

The period in which copying is highly welcome and supported is undoubtedly the learning period. While learning, the works of the former masters in history are imitated by the student and the education progresses in this direction for a long time.

– A music student will mimic other musicians’ interpretations while playing their pieces.

– A painting student will try to imitate nature’s brush by performing a painting made by a master, experiencing brush strokes and style by looking at a landscape.

This will enable the student to understand how a work is going through a mechanical process while it is being produced, to know how to combine this knowledge and internalize it in the future, and to know where to benefit from it.

As we all agree, while copying is considered pleasant in learning, when it comes to commercial life, it goes to the region where the intellectual rights are protected by law. It is up to one’s moral approach to which side of inspiration and copying will remain in that fine line.

Many good artists bring their favorite works back to life by re-interpreting them with their own knowledge and thoughts. The aim is not to copy, but to reveal his own work in a different way with his own knowledge. In order to understand the ideas you see in other works, you need to understand how they are brought together and why they are presented in a certain way.

First, you need to internalize these ideas so that you can mix the ideas of other artists in a new form with your own ideas and you can have new unique ideas.

What makes a good artist different from the other is that he can always stay on the right side of the line and create works of his own style.

Vincent Van Gogh often described himself as a link in a chain. He expressed his wish to build his works on the work of those who came before him and to reveal the works that they could build on the ones who came after him.

Internalizing what he has received from past masters, making something new on his own and leaving it to other artists in the future to continue this process.

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets play; evil poets falsify what they receive, good poets convert what they receive into something better, at least something different…” (T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood)


Copyright law is complex, but it can help you get a few basic ideas. When we look at the history of copyright law, we see that the law has changed and expanded over time. However, it still has the same basic goal: to protect the rights of the artist. The Copyright Act enforces this by prohibiting the copying of an artist’s work. Copyright infringement occurs when the work is used without the permission of the owner (certain photographs, music works, software, etc.of the owner of the work).

However, there is a big exception to fair use.

Fair Use -The Law Opened To Reinterpretation

Fair use is an important part of copyright law that allows schools and similar organizations to use copyright material for educational purposes. If you are worried that students are violating copyright laws by creating copies from the internet, don’t worry too much, because they are protected under fair use. Fair use also recognises and permits that artists are a key way to create new meaning in order to reinterpret the works and images. Borrowing and development has a long history in art history, so that movenments such as Dada and Pop Art bring significant criticism to what we know about art and popular culture.

With the introduction of the digital world, fair use is even more widely used today as we have the opportunity to easily access the images of the works. The university arts association has published fair use guidelines for artists in 2014 with the following recommendations:

As mentioned above in the title of the basic elements of creativity;

– The use of the works of others is part of the construction of a new culture that is based on the existing culture.

– Re-interpretation of works protected by copyright is protected by fair use. The artist who reinterprets the work when the new work ‘creates a new meaning’ is protected by fair use.

– Artists who interpret the works should be able to explain why they interpret the works of others and should refer to the owner of the work they interpret, unless there is sufficient valid reason.

Negative Effects of Plagiarism and Creativity

Taking sections from other people’s writings, taking strings and pretending to be their own, or adopting and explaining other people’s issues in a different way, plagiarism (TDK, 2007).

“Not to show quotes phrases and ideas for the source. Not to write borrowed statements in quotes, not to cite references.” (Wikipedia)

‘By stealing other people’s ideas, writings and works, without making the necessary reference to the person he has taken them from, to show them as their own work.’

The development of humanity is without a doubt through new ideas, new designs, the production of new works of art, and the original approaches built on one another. In a society, the methods of cheating that began in school will create one’s own end in later years, and, regardless of the area in which he works, either academic or graphic design or art, he will be a copy of something that already exists.

The fight against plagiarism and the projection of intellectual works of civilizations that are trying to develop with advanced and high educational standards, enables the emergence of new ideas, new inventions and innovative works of art in the world.

The efforts of the students to upgrade their exam grades by cheating from each other in the exams, which started in the ranks of the school, also bring with it the habit of plagiarism in the works they put forth in the written and visual field in the following years.

A society using broken software, completing the PhD of others, using other photographs as if it were their own, disregarding respect for labor, making it a habit to steal the ideas and works of others, will never go forward in art or science, will never be innovative, will never contribute to humanity, and will be doomed to follow its own tail.

“The development of a country is not based on the educational style in which stereotypes are existent, but rather on standing behind utopias, empowering imagination, capturing authenticity” (Çellek, 2004).

“Capturing originality is the realization of honest, consistent, high-discipline, and freedom of thought. Otherwise, the work, which is called “an inspiration”, will be identified as “stolen, a copy, plagiarism” by a good expert eye. One of the things that makes an artist special is that he presents unique works. So much so that, whether it is a book or a picture or a photograph, it should basically reflect the original thought and style of the author. Other artist he uses the works only for inspiration, but his work as a result of inspiration must be unique, unlike his new and inspired work. “Of course, every individual has the right to take advantage of the works created before him. However, this benefit should be in reasonable measure, and should not be at the level of ‘plagiarism’ which means to cost someone else’s work to him (İçel, 2006, p.102).

“In this sense, we see the necessity of capturing authenticity in the pure sense of the legal term. The qualities that make a work are strengthened by the bond created by the person who created it. Otherwise, works created with a stolen idea will not be referred to as works. These works, which are not included in the definition of the work, will create an unnecessary crowd of information and eventually contribute to cultural values. It is argued that art and design must be original works produced in a free environment.” (Elmas, p. 288).

The main goal of an artist is to know the extent to which he will use inspiration. If the points that are inspired are the new, unique works that other artists have put forward, then there will indeed be steps taken towards the advancement of art.

But if the resulting work is not able to make a copy of the existing one or to make a similar one, and does not mention the original one, the resulting situation will only be a disappointment in the name of plagiarism and art.

But instead of using his own creativity, presenting his own ideas and design solutions as if they were his own will result in plagiarism and result in a vicious cycle because there is no difference.

The state of emotion that pushes the person towards his creation is a state of spirit that distinguishes him from others, which is unique.

The imagination of the creative individual is unique to the individual in terms of perception of mind structure and concepts.

It should be remembered that the way to perpetuate the fire of creativity is dependent on the person’s hard work, curiosity, intensive reading, research and being a very good observer in order to improve his/her knowledge rather than waiting for a fairy to inspire him/her.


– İlhamı Beklerken ya da Bilmeden Çalmak!, Nafia Akdeniz/ 11 Şubat 2016

– Plagiarism and Its Effect on Creative Work, Shelley H Carson Ph.D.

– A Case of Art Plagiarism, http://hoaxes.org/, Jan 29, 2013

– Everything is a Remix, Maria Popova, www. brainpickings.org

– Elements of Creativity, http://createmorebetterdifferent. wikia.com/wiki/Elements_of_Creativity

– Sengel, F.C. (2009). Fikir ve Sanat Eserleri Hukukunda İntihal ve Esinlenme. İstanbul: Seçkin Yayınları

– http://www.plagiarism.org/

– Andreasen, N. C. (2009). Yaratıcı Beyin: Dehanın Nörobilimi. (3.Baskı) Ankara: Arkadaş Yayınevi