Free from fear...

Ok, this may be a very dangerous subject... especially amongst henna artists in the current internet climate as it pertains to copyrights... but I think, in my old age, that I really don't mind taking the less traversed path... even the dangerous path. "Where there's fear, there's power." I've always liked that saying.

I get weary hearing how important it is to "credit" other artists when we have been inspired by some work, or even some element in their work, and it appears in our work. From my perspective, everything that we do is derivative of something we've seen, somewhere, sometime. Often times we don't even know where the heck we saw it! I'm not saying that it's wrong or even silly to offer heartfelt credit when we are so moved. But other than a genuine rush of gratitude that "must" be expressed publicly, all of this credit nonsense is exhausting at best and stultifying at worst. Even when cloaked in the ever-so-sweetly pressed "courteous" argument, it grates against my very bones. I am a proponent of creativity. Period. Everything inspires me. Everything. Everything I see, feel, hear, taste, touch is grist for my creative mill. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is sacrosanct. Maybe I'm just weird. But I really do love it when I happen upon some photo of my work somewhere unexpectedly. It's almost as though it has been imbued somehow with a life of its own and it's galavanting around having random adventures and making friends without me! Just as any healthy child should. I've seen my designs tattooed on skin, on logos, yes, even on lampshades, and it never ceases to leave me filled with wonderment!

Don't get me wrong. I love making my living with my art, but in an increasingly corporate culture, where value is determined in dollars and ownership is equated with power, it feels so refreshing to my spirit to release those chains. I do watermark the photos of my work. I want prospective clients to be able to find me. But even those markers are more satisfying to me when they are translucent and harder to find. I'd rather it be sort of like a treasured secret source than a hot brand.

Maybe it's because of the henna. Henna is so ancient. The traditional henna elements were originally created by hearts, minds and fingers long turned to dust. Maybe that's why I balk at this "ownership" thing. I simply cannot credit whomever created the first paisley, or that cute "corn nut flower," or the vine and leaf motif. I get that "how" these elements are created, their arrangements in a composition, their placement, create a "style" and are the expression of an individual artist. That is a powerful thing. I feel that deep connection with my work, that emotional expression. But for me, once it is created, it is released. I have a hard time remembering the beautiful work I create. The hideous designs haunt me forever. Purgatory. Besides, the design will fade anyway. Henna is as ephemeral as life itself. Always in flux.

Having said all of this, and having ruminated on it for some years now, imagine my delight in coming across this "Ted Talk." If you have a few moments, I think it's worth your time. Johanna Blakley.