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‘Multimark making’ and copying right: 4 ways to find your creativity from an artist

By Tom Inniss, Writer

Brew Digital

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July 7, 2023 | 6 min read

Not everyone thinks they’re creative, but everyone can be. Here, Tom Inniss of Brew Digital collared an actual artist – Nicci Wonnacott of Exeter, UK – for 4 nuggets of creative inspiration.

A palette of paint colors

What can ad industry creatives learn from practising artists? / Peter F via Unsplash

Creativity is as much about the process as the outcome, but people still worry about starting a project because they ‘aren’t creative’ or ‘don’t know how’ to get going. We spoke to Exeter, UK-based artist and art educator Nicci Wonnacott about how to find your creativity when you don’t know where to start.

1. It's about the process, not the product

Of course, if you’re a graphic designer, then you will inevitably be judged on your final outcome, but for those of us just wanting to get started, Wonnacott stresses the importance of not getting caught up in the creation, but the creating. Art can be very therapeutic, but you have to be able to let go, not get stressed about doing something wrong, and be free enough to let loose and experiment.

2. Start with a scribble

Just as the blank page is the enemy of the struggling writer, a blank canvas can be a daunting proposition to the emerging artist. Sometimes just conquering that vast expanse of endless possibility with a scribble, no matter how untidy, can kickstart the creative process.

Think about when you’ve been on a particularly long phone call and you start doodling on the back of an envelope, and as the interminable caller chunters on your doodle takes on a life of its own to become a complex web of creativity… or is that just me?

“It’s a communication from the inside of you to the outside world. Don’t be afraid to screw it up and start again to get out what you want to say” – so says Wonnacott.

Art, inherently, is expression. It’s about taking a thought, feeling, idea, or experience, and transforming it into a visual medium for others to see and appreciate. That process of introspection, of letting your inner self come out into the world, can be therapeutic or terrifying, sometimes both simultaneously. But it’s important for you to feel you have managed to express yourself. So while you should never be afraid of ‘doing it right’ on a technical level, you want to ensure that you’ve done it right for yourself. If something isn’t connecting with you, don’t be afraid to start again.

3. Don’t copy representatively

When first embarking on your creative journey, you might take a lot of inspiration from the work of artists you love and admire. Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” I’d suggest you say it quietly, but Steve Jobs wasn’t right about everything. Originality is certainly not overrated, and art as a means of communication is most effective when it’s authentically you. Sure, do research into artists you enjoy, and find styles that suit you, but remember: it's your work, and your way of engaging in dialogue with the world.

4. Think about multimark making

Multimark making is the use and experimentation of different tools and techniques. In the traditional art sense, this might mean using paints, pencils or even newspaper clippings, and layering them in a way that sees them become part of a larger picture. This is totally applicable to the digital world, and with the range of high-quality free image manipulation software and generative AI at your fingertips, never has there been a better time for creative exploration.

You could start with a scribble, scan it into your phone or computer, layer digital elements on top and then run it through an AI algorithm to create something completely new and unique. Multimark making could even refer to the collaboration with other artists. Especially relevant when working as part of a team, sharing a canvas with other creatives can help inspire new ideas, help you develop new skills and techniques, and take your creativity to the next level.

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