Some Thoughts About Creative Role Models

2016 Artwork influences and role models article sketch

If you’re an artist (or a writer, musician etc..), then you probably have your fair share of creative role models. These are prominent artists, writers etc.. whose works have impressed you so much that you secretly wish that you could be just like them – or, more accurately, make stuff like the things that they make.

We all have our role models and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, having role models is often the motivation that you need in order to practice writing or making art on a regular basis. Wanting to be like the people who inspire you is an essential part of creating things.

However, the important thing to remember here is to have lots of role models. Try to have as many as you can find.

If you just try to be like one person who has really inspired you, then you’ll never produce unique or interesting things. You’ll never become someone who might, one day, end up inspiring someone else. Why? Because you’ll be an inferior copy of your favourite writer or artist.

But, if you try to be as much like a combination of different people as possible then your art or fiction will still end up becoming something slightly unique or different. You’ll be your own unique mixture of the artists, writers etc… who inspired you.

Yes, it’s ok to be heavily influenced or inspired by someone or something – for example, I’d be lying if I said that the gothic cyberpunk art series that I’m working on at the time of writing this article wasn’t initially inspired by “Blade Runner” (my favourite movie). Here’s an example:

"Screen Glow" By C. A. Brown

“Screen Glow” By C. A. Brown

On the other hand, this painting has also been shaped by quite a few other influences of mine too.

The art style that I use has been shaped by the creators of many of my favourite cartoons and comics. The lighting and colour scheme in this picture has also been influenced by album covers, film posters and horror novel covers that have impressed me over the years.

The choice to draw two characters chilling out and laughing was more influenced by the many webcomics and comic books I’ve read than the more sombre character interactions in “Blade Runner”. In other words, although this picture was inspired by “Blade Runner”, it’s not a carbon copy of “Blade Runner”.

If you have a lot of different role models, then even if you try to produce something in the style of just one of them then influences from your other role models will probably creep into what you create. This means that you’ll still end up creating something new, unique and distinctively yours.

Here’s another example of a picture from this series. My original inspiration for this picture was this wonderfully atmospheric scene from the 1997 computer game adaptation of “Blade Runner”. Here’s an example:

"Balcony Moments" By C. A. Brown

“Balcony Moments” By C. A. Brown

Yet, when it came to actually making this painting, it actually ended up being more influenced by a lot of other things.

It was influenced by art deco artwork, it was influenced by 1980s artwork and it was influenced by several sci-fi/ horror computer games from the 1990s that I’ve played. If you compare it to the footage I linked to earlier, you’ll see that it looks extremely different.

So, if you hope to eventually become someone who is even a fraction as cool, unique, distinctive and interesting as the people who have inspired you – then you need to have lots of influences and lots of different role models. After all, the people who inspired you also had lots of different influences too.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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