I never really thought about this problem until high school — where art surrounded me in several forms and people prioritized style over anatomy, the general rules of color theory, proportions, composition and so forth. Before high school, I didn’t think style was an awfully big priority in terms of art. But with the kind of art that I did, of course it was important! I didn’t draw realistically nor did I paint quite often. So my skill was not heavily dependent on how accurate I can get my subject to look, but it slowly became dependent upon how good my style looked.
But how do you develop that style? And when you've worked so hard to achieve it, how do you feel when someone else replicates what you've worked so hard to make your signature?
I’ve met several people, both online and offline who’ve reflected displeasure with being copied off of. Of course, I understand! They’ve worked years and years trying to find their style — and it’s quite an arduous journey — and now some stranger is going off of their style and making it their signature as well.
It is annoying to say the least, but it feels like you’re so entitled if you go and defend yourself. People start to question whether or not your style is even THAT original to defend. Some of your more extremist fans feel like they have to take matters into their own hands and start going to said copier’s page and start bullying them — resulting in unnecessary drama and just a lot more problems than you started with.
Additionally, you’d especially look inconsistent when you end up praising someone else for a crime you quite clearly shamed another for doing.
One of my friends, let’s call her Miranda, despises artists who shit on other people who "copy their style." Miranda argues that:
1. You'd have to have a real unique style to claim something like that.
2. You can’t scold a stranger for "copying" your style if you let your friends get away with it. Be consistent.
Of course, this is not an uncommon phenomenon! Artist friends have moments where they like each other's art, and then there are even much more magical moments where they feel thoroughly inspired. When that happens, they might feel compelled to copy the way you might do the eyes, the hair, the way the nose is shared, and so forth. It is admiration and a desire of wanting to look as aesthetic as your original work.
So if you let that kind of thing happen — where you let your friends copy but not strangers — it becomes harder to respect your wishes. It doesn't make much sense, frankly. It doesn't matter whether you favor your friends and THAT'S why you've let them get away — essentially, it's about YOU! It's about having your own style, your own mark, your own signature and being the only artist who can produce that kind of work.
So I'd you wouldn't let some stranger take that away, why let a friend do it?
I mean, in my opinion it’s inevitable — or others to copy your work, for you to fall flat in your attempts of being "original." There is no one original in this world, everyone is merely a copy or a mix of copies of other artists and ideas. As we move further and further in the future, it becomes much more difficult to stand out from the rest when so many generations before you have thought the same or similar things.
The sooner you accept that, the better you will understand how thinking "creatively" may not be as restricted to original ideas persay, because frankly, it’s such a rare occurrence that it shouldn’t be fret over. Instead, you should celebrate in what you can make yours, and if you want it to stay yours only, you should stay consistent in how you’d like others to use your work.