Being Persnickity For a Reason

Often we are so enamored of someone's style or creative processes that we forget they are, in fact, someone else's style or creative processes. Sometimes it is as simple as the name we give our own creations or the way we describe them, and sometimes it is an accidental misuse of a term or name for what we're creating.

Everyone knows that I flare up like a torch and have many words to say on the subject of calling something "steampunk" when it is not steampunk and has nothing to do with steampunk.

A very very brief little bit of truth. Steampunk is a term coined, almost in making fun of himself and other authors of the science fiction genre that they were developing, by K.W. Jeter and is derived from the a reverse concept from Cyberpunk, a common term in the 80's because of the popularity of that genre. Steampunk is about a Victorian Era or Old West where steam powered and grand machines, much like those envisioned by Mary Shelley and H. G. Wells were possible in an alternative futuristic past. It is a science fiction genre term. Putting some gears on it and calling it steampunk, or making hair and dress overly complicated for the sake of artistic merit is not, in and of itself, steampunk no matter how many Victorian elements you include or how sexy you look in goggles.

Steampunk inspired art, steampunk inspired dress and the absolute wonder of some of the most beautiful and creative things I've seen is real and deserves serious recognition. It is not necessarily "steampunk." The steampunk inspired movement of dress and cosplay is so spectacularly beautiful that I can spend hours going through photos and admiring their work. Some of the most gorgeous jewelry and useable or wearable art comes from this movement. I love it enough that it is pictures of this gorgeous stuff that inspires me to eat well and exercise so that someday I might be able to cosplay it before I'm too old to pull it off without seeming silly. Really. And it isn't steampunk.

Did you note the word I used there to separate it? You'll see me use a lot of that one word. Jennibellie inspired journals. Ingrid Dijikers inspired journal covers. Inspired is a word you can and should embrace and make a part of yourself.

So… I am often inspired by other people, and like in my encouragement previously and I'm sure often after this post, as well… don't copy. Be inspired and create on your own. Give credit where it is due and be proud of yourself for your own creations.

Zentangle is another of these loaded and often misused terms and I'm becoming as adamantly frustrated by its misuse as I am by the misuse of Steampunk. (I'm being funny and NOT funny here by pasting, word for word, what the creators of Zentangle have requested be typed.) The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at I have not even changed the font color or type.

There are three VERY important things to note about Zentangle. Firstly, it is a METHOD, it is united with a particular type of ZEN MEDITATION and involves the use of their STRUCTURED PATTERNS. Rick and Maria do NOT own doodles nor do they own tangled doodles or anything else you might want to create. They do rightfully and completely own the name of their creation, their methods and the patterns they've evolved in their methods and classes.

I'm saddened that they have more information on their legal page than they have on some of the others, and I do fully understand the necessity of it and will be entirely respectful of their creation.

Just because you are doodling, noodling and using overlapping doodle patterns and styles does NOT mean that you are Zentangling. Not all repetitive pattern doodles are Zentangles. Not every black and white doodle is a Zentangle. In fact, outside of their particular method, which has rules and even a pattern hierarchy (which is how they recognize their own work from someone else's work) none of it is a Zentangle. It may be Zentangle inspired, and it may be tangled.

Now, here's a sad truth about Ruth. I cannot Zentangle. I have tried. I find it NOT restful and NOT meditative for me at all. Doodling, however, is very good for me. Why? Because if it comes from me and is just shapes married to shapes and lines that dive under or over each other in the process of becoming something else I can really dig it. And when it is a shape I don't dare mess up, or a pattern that must be followed I find the control freak in me raises her head and my knuckles are white gripping the pen, even after pencil sketching the lines ahead of time, and every mistake sets me off in a panic of attempted recovery.

I positively LOVE the tangles they create with their method, and the ways that so many people are able to learn and use the method so beautifully. I'll stick to my own doodles and drawings and perhaps in another year or two I'll give it a try again and see if I've grown up enough to let go of my ego and really allow myself to flow into their gorgeous method of creating art. Then I'll even invest in a book or even take the course and let the master's teach me so that I can benefit entirely from their guidance, and not keep pausing a Youtube video and growling at myself for my incompetence. In the meantime I'll make my less detailed doodles and be always inspired by their ability to make what they do so approachable and so fun and beautiful.

I'll play the devil's advocate here just briefly… on the reverse side of owning it and making it your own so that you give credit where it is due, even to yourself, there is the uglier and less friendly side of this same dilemma. When you misrepresent a thing or claim it under someone else's name for it and then call it your own you are opening the door to owing them for what you have created. Registered and copyrighted works and methods and processes abound and are serious business. By calling your work inspired you protect yourself from owing any money elsewhere for sold items and protect yourself from having to go back and recant or apologize for misrepresentations and misuses.

Own what you do and always always always remember to credit what you do properly to those that brought it to you by inspirational artwork or lessons, and most importantly, from yourself. Too few people understand the value of their intellectual property! Be proud of yourself when you develop something new and different and awesome!

So very little of my own work is actually individual the way that my army of inspiring artists' work is to them that I haven't really even considered what I'd do if someone claimed something I made as their own. I do know that as angry and ugly as it may seem on the surface when an artist has to bring charges or make claims to their own copyrighted material used by another artist, mostly it's about feeling wronged and hurt because it couldn't have been taken or misused or misrepresented it if they hadn't trusted us all with it in the first place. Be always respectful and responsible. It's one more way to be unexpected!

peace… and if not peaceful then always mindful of the best and greatest rule of all mankind… do no harm.


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