I’d like to take a moment to talk about something that I’m really passionate about. Remember the presentation I gave in Etsy’s Virtual Labs about creativity, competition and copycats? Well, the video above featuring Johanna Blakely giving a TED speech shares the same ideas, and it was an eye-opener to hear that in the fashion industry, everyone is running against each other and that competition is considered fair play. Before you clear your desk and throw your arms up in the air in exasperation, I’d like you to hear Johanna out and read what I have to say — I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic after.
We now live in a world that is different from what it was 5 years ago. With the age of the internet, everything is done twice, if not triple times as fast as before. What was previously unheard of before can now spread like wildfire, and with it came a wonderful surprise. No longer does anyone have to fit into one giant group. We now have niches and segmented group of people who are interested in vastly different things. Best of all, we have the ability to search and gather exactly what we want, whenever we want it.
What does this mean to you? Artists, illustrators, and designers can now freely do what they please and practice what they do best. They can now search and target their specific audience instead of trying hard to fit into a particular mold. And with it comes the work: your ability to challenge, innovate and make new things. And if you have your own business, you have to keep things fresh for your audience.
This isn’t limited to only artists — writers, bloggers, publishers; most industries should keep this in mind when they compete heavily among themselves. I’ll put it this way: everyone wants the bigger piece of the same pie – but for those who are looking and thinking ahead; they don’t want to be one of the maddening crowd. They’ll bake their own special pies, thankyouverymuch. Also, a lot of pressure is eliminated when you are focusing on building your own thing, rather than waste your energy to preserve your status quo against a slew of newcomers who can do it better, faster, cheaper for a general audience.
I once read that creativity is defined as the ability to channel various existing ideas and make them into something new and better. It isn’t something magical or limited to only a select few. Everyone can be creative — copycats are merely serving a need within a market (cheaper knock-offs, etc) that has nothing to do with YOUR market. Copycats are here to make money, designers and artists are here to make a difference. Which side are you on?