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striving for mediocrity... (creating boundaries: part 2)

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striving for mediocrity...

I would rather have more information than less. Because otherwise, I fill in the gaps, with assumptions that are not always accurate.

Actually, all humans do this. It’s the way we’re designed to function. The brain does this amazing thing where it will imaginatively infer when there is incomplete information. It doesn’t mean what we come up with is true, it’s simply that we can’t stand to have pieces missing, and so we flesh out the story until it makes sense in a way we can recognize.

In some circles, it’s thought that Shakespeare used this device not just to drive the rhythm of the text forward, but also to make the audience complicit in a moment. He would deliberately leave out words so the audience would be forced to fill in the rest of the thought. This would in turn, align them with the character in a moment. When this character is Iago in Othello, that raises some interesting questions…

In our daily lives, you can see how this plays out in marketing, in politics, and even in personal relationships. Just enough information is offered. Specific details are withheld. Partial-truths are spoken. Assumptions get made as the gaps are filled in by imagination. And, there is no culpability of telling a lie.

This is also how silence can be mistaken for agreement.

It’s powerful stuff.

And this is why Brian recently spoke up about his sons unabashedly copying his style of work and calling it their own. Brian spoke as a father, as an artist, and as a person who values the larger space we share together.

To allow your self to be treated in a particular way, communicates that treating others this way is acceptable...

Brian and I agree that copying someone else's recognizable style without their permission is not something to be silent about.

Coming from academia, small business and the online arts arena feels a bit like the wild west. It might be because in my educational and artistic journey, when I had to write a paper or research something, I had to go to the library. Everything was in books or periodicals, on microfiche or microfilm – there was no confusion when I was going to another source for an idea or inspiration. And, there were strict MLA standards about documenting these sources.

Throughout college and then grad school, and then as a tenured professor… there were even clearer boundaries. If you take another person’s work and claim it as your own you get expelled or fired. No real grey area around it.

As a professional artist, in juried exhibits, when submitting to journals, or writing for grants, you have to acknowledge similar work in your field of expertise. Lineage matters, and original thought is required.

The bulk of the work I did as a professional actor was with the material of living playwrights and composers (with the exception of Shakespeare). In a few instances, the original writers were in the room, and let me tell you, unless you have explicit permission to improvise, you have to be word/note perfect – and if you’re not, you better have a damn fine reason for suggesting the change… When I wrote solo performance shows, there was much more freedom, but I earned that freedom only if I scripted my own text.

My particular background in the arts included training with either first or second generation master teachers who codified internationally recognized theatre methodologies. This taught me to honor my lineage and understand my place in the field so I could be a contribution to it, rather than just a consumer of it.

This is my experience coming in to this. And I suppose this is why it’s shocking to me some people don’t care about this.

Some say it’s none of their business, others assume permission was granted by Brian.

Why aren't we quiet about this? Why don't we just move on, do our work and let them do theirs? 

It is not my intention to deter you from purchasing products or following whomever you wish. Seriously, put your energy and attention where you will, go after what feeds your soul.

As I said above, this is a larger conversation.

Though we may no longer be in school – there are still high standards we should hold ourselves and others to - do your own work, understand your field so you can contribute in a way that grows it, and honor those who paved the path you now benefit from walking on.

always in motion,


p.s. to read more about how the brain makes up memories

to read more about how perception works in the brain

to read a fun article about magicians & neuromagic

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  • After 20 years following StoryPeople, and now knowing the unfortunate truth of what has occurred, I continue to support the artist, Brian, and not StoryPeople. It is a sad state of society that this happened and I’m sorry for you both. Continue to stay true to who you both are as that is what makes your artwork so moving and real. You can feel the love in your art and words. Much love to you both 💕

    Cathy & Andrew on
  • Brian and Fia… I did not realize what was happening with StoryPeople. I was receiving the story of the day—I have since unsubscribed—and assumed Brian was helping his sons. How heartbreaking this must be for you both! Speaking truth is often painful but necessary so we don’t lose ourselves in the darker places. So happy you two are in the light with Flying Edna. Your words and stores illuminate me, and I am grateful. Wishing you both peace, love, and plenty of light.

    Jo Anne AKA “Caffeinated Jo” on
  • Thank you Fia for the above information. This information and experiential knowledge is invaluable when seeing the big picture in the art’s . Boundaries seem to have become so gray in this day and age . I view this situation Brian is having to address is best put with the saying “ some times you have to grow a backbone where you had a wishbone” such a hard walk as a father.

    Diane saubert on
  • What your kids are doing is wrong plain and simple. It’s also very sad because everyone has their own creative spark…. Copying someone else’s to make a profit means that you never learn to express yourself in your own unique way. I have had your old story people prints and sculptures for decades. I will never buy from them but I absolutely will support you here. It really is mind boggling because your style is so unique… Shame on them

    Carol on
  • Hello Fia and Brian. As a lifelong artist myself, I took your words close to heart and have been thinking of them since Brian posted earlier. I have had my work imitated as well. Well-meaning friends encouraged me to see it as the ‘sincerest form of flattery’. I tried, but it didn’t work. Art is not just a product, it is a reflection of an artist’s years of experience and soul. When it is stolen, really no other word for it, it is more than just copying a product, it is using a piece of a person’s soul for personal gain.
    I believe I, like perhaps others, thought it may have been sanctioned by Brian because Brian’s own work continues to be shown on the other site. Now that the truth is known, and I’m glad it’s been clarified, I will no longer allow that site’s e-mail into my world. As I wrote to Brian after his post, imitation never has the magic or the spark of the original. It always falls a bit flat and uninspired, and I asked him not to worry. But now that I’ve thought further and farther, I think those words were too quick. It is painful to have your soul ripped off.
    I remain your loyal fan to all that YOU BOTH are creating.

    Kat on

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