We lived in an age where the free-flow of information ruled supreme, at least in the developed world. Anything we wanted to learn was available at our fingertips, provided we had the self-organizational skills and motivation to actually practice. Yet there was a great danger in this so-called enlightened era, especially in regard to the belief that synthesis was the height of creative achievement.
Real synthesis occurred when we took what we knew and applied it to new and unique situations to produce original results. That our results might have resembled something that had come before was of little consequence; it was by the virtue of self-process that we ended up creating something "new". New was always relative, anyway, and subject more to the memory of the audience than the realities of history. The trouble with the explosion of self-taught auteurs was that they were not actually reaching the stage of real synthesis. Through slavish reproduction of step-by-step instruction from learned individuals, new artists were simply becoming barely passable forgeries of their never-met masters.
It was bad enough that nothing was new: the new art-crime was that everything was a copy of a copy, and true individual style never arose. That was, on one hand, quite fine for established artists, as the glut of copy-artists provided a grand trashy medium upon which they could juxtapose, and more effectively sell, their own fine art. On the other hand it was supremely sad, accounting the lost potential of those who had the drive to become skilled craftspeople yet never found the wherewithal to produce true synthesis.
So the advice was to not simply copy style. Rather, seek to understand the underlying techniques that produced the desired results, and practice those techniques until some form of personal truth was revealed through work. In this way, we slowly salvaged the art world.
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