What makes art original?

David Leffel and Jeremy Lipking painting the same model at the same time at 2009 Weekend with the Masters

I saw a very interesting post on our site this week about what makes art original, or possibly what defines a piece as original art versus not original. It could just be semantics, who is to define what original in the art world is? Is it more about whether a piece is completely new from the artist, or whether in some way the piece has been created before? Is unique art different than original art?

In this instance, the poster explained that her art was deemed not original because she painted a model in a group with other people painting the same model. So, each piece was just a painting and not an original idea because everyone was painting the same subject matter. To share your opinions about this and read the details click here in the "Outside the Studio" forum.

Is an idea only original because the model has never been painted in that pose, or the landscape has never been painted from that view, or the cityscape wasn't shot from that one perspective? Or is having one's work created in a group considered collaborative work? Isn't art also the artists' perspective of the subject matter not to mention, the artist's particular style of portrayal alone with their use of the medium?  

It's an interesting thing to decide that some art is not original because it was painted at the same time of the same person. 

These kinds of questions come up frequently on Artist Daily. If you haven't already participated on the site, in the Galleries and forums, now is the time to share your work and your thoughts.

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About Karyn

   My heart has always been in art and I spend the free time that I can painting.  Currently, I work in acrylics and I'm creating a series of abstract pieces.  But, I'm a materials collector and I've recently purchased some pan pastels, some new oil paints and watercolor pencils.

I no longer work for Artist Daily, so I won't be checking the site regularly and have no ability to remove posts or images.  Please contact the staff of Artist Daily or American Artist if you need help.

5 thoughts on “What makes art original?

  1. In my humble opinion, “original” has more to do with the source than the subject. The fact that the poster was painting in a class does not preclude the originality of that painter’s peculiar and unique view. Every artist brings to the canvas or paper his or her own unique interpretation and execution of the subject, therefore, it is an “original” view, and the art created from that view is therefore, original. The only “non-original” art is when an artist deliberately copies another’s art creation, whether painting, drawing or photograph. It is then, a copy, and should be labeled as such, particularly in the case of copying works in a museum or gallery, then, it becomes a painting by (name of painter) after (name of the original artist).

  2. Originality as it pertains to art is a multi-factorial issue, but one’s unique perspective or interpretation is a large part of it, that seems pretty obvious to me. Common subjects can be approached in unique or original ways, and on the other hand, unusual subjects can be (mis)handled in a very mundane manner.

  3. thank you so much for posting your thoughts n comments on this subject, since being a artist myself just starting to get into the field good, i hate doing copies.
    it’s good practice for me, in the long run. i do learn a lot with hands on stuff instead of trying to read from books. i’m sorry to open a can of worms on this subject. thanks for helping me out, nice to meet some of you guys.

    i will keep this info in mind, i do prefer to work from photographs, my own if possibles, like i say sometimes health issues get in the way of that. i have to be careful. i love painting, it doesn’t keep me down.

    in christ

  4. Good Question…I was wondering if I used part of a poster picture in my oil painting can I still show it as mine after all I did paint it I understand the poster subject although taken from a movie, was printed as a poster first, by the way they are somewhat different.