Tread the fine line between inspiration and mimicry.
Scrolling past Twitter these days, we’re frequently bombarded with threads and photo compilations of the wildest things. The platform helped burgeoning artists to share their photography and modeling to audiences way larger than Instagram could.The exchange of different aesthetics and styles creates valuable interaction among the art community and pulls the world closer together.
With all the art sharing that’s been going on, you’d notice that there’s been a certain photo look that’s trending across the board. With heavy involvement of neon lighting, high-contrast split toning, fairy lights, reflections and a whole lot of post-processing, it’s clear to see a lot of local artists, mostly upcoming ones, are strongly influenced by the aesthetic of photographer Brandon Woelfel, and The CW’s Riverdale. A quick search would show you dozens of tutorials on how to achieve Woelfel’s signature neon look.
It isn’t the first time; when photography forums started popping up around the earlier internet days, ultra bokeh portraits and HDR landscapes were a famous subject. Come Instagram’s beginnings, the filters and square formatting were all the hype. More recent developments would be the curation of feeds to fit minimalist or pastel themes.
Art, in general, takes so much from influence and reference. Our works are the sum of the artists we idolize and aspire the most. Taking inspiration and cues from our heroes is not harmful or problematic. However, the issue roots itself in the oversaturation and monopolizing of a few certain styles.
It really isn’t the style of shot or editing that’s inherently wrong, but the sheer number of photographers liberally taking cues from the painterly style. It seems like a simple benign issue but there’s an underlying problem here. In our roads to finding our own aesthetics, it’s too easy to get lost in the styles of others. When we see something we admire, we strive to emulate it too much that we lose ourselves in the process.
Steve Jobs once famously stated that “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” It’s a simple concept, really, how the bona fide best aesthetic is that one that comes from the deepest crevices of your creative juice reservoirs. No matter how amazing your idols’ styles and looks are, they’ll never amount to the satisfaction you’d get from riding your own art vibe. Such is the essence of self-discovery, and why it’s so important for us to uphold the pride in our own unique work.
We can’t avoid the bandwagon that rolls around with what comes in hot. Soon enough, like all trends, the signature Woelfel look will succumb to the next hot thing. Its inspiring palettes and ethereal lights, however, will stay etched in our hearts and minds as we take its cues along with us on our roads to art hoe glory. Whatever’s in store for tomorrow will sure be tempting to hop along with, but stay woke; just keep doing you.