Coincidental Creativity: What is it & Why is it Important?

April 13, 2021

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Louder for the people in the back: there’s no such thing as a 100% original idea! If you’ve ever been afraid to share your work because ‘someone else did it first’ this episode is for you. Today, we’re chatting about what we like to call coincidental creativity which is when two people come up with a similar idea at once. After listening, you’ll walk away with clarity, understanding the difference between copying and coincidental creativity. 

Why It’s Important to Discuss Coincidental Creativity

I think it’s really important to talk about coincidental creativity because some people get paralyzed with the whole mentality of “well… she did it first so now I can’t share it” and that absolutely blows my mind! Have we become so fearful of stepping on other people’s toes that we are afraid to show off what we’ve genuinely created and come up with?

It’s almost impossible to be 100% unique because what you’re creating is the building block of something else. Even with wedding invitations, we are all using the same “formula” if you will, and executing it differently because you can’t trademark an idea… and using a similar idea is not always copying. We touch on this previous episode –  DRAWING THE LINE: INSPIRATION VS. COPYING – FEAT. SHASTA BELL

Things that have been done a zillion times in a zillion ways:

  • Wedding crests

  • Greeting cards

  • Wax seals

  • “First” milestone markers

  • Pillows

  • Handmade Paper

No one person has a license on landscape paintings, or wedding crests, or wax seals, marbled paper designs, whatever it may be. All of these things derive from things that have been around FOREVER.

Do Your Research

Even if you think you are the first to do something, you might not be. There is a relatively easy way to figure this out: google it. When I came up with my “2020 was a total shit show (but we made it)” ornament in August 2020 I googled it a dozen different ways to see if anything close existed. I came up with the exact calligraphy & block lettering layout, I came up with the phrase, but I did not invent acrylic ornaments or white lettering on acrylic, or silk as an ornament tie around. Those elements & ideas have been around a long time but I took those building blocks and made them my own.

So, when copycat versions of my ornament showed up (literally exact rips offs) I knew those had been derived from mine. If they had done an ornament ripping 2020and put their own spin on it on an acrylic ornament with their own white lettering and their own saying I wouldn’t have cared. It would’ve been a similar idea but it wouldn’t have been a copy, and I wouldn’t have been able to be mad about it.

What is Coincidental Creativity?

I like to call this coincidental creativity when two people come up with a similar idea at once. If you’ve thought of it, someone else has probably thought of it already. Sorry to say it!! So it boggles my mind when people publish things on social around the same time and we are so ready to accuse X girl of copying Y girl but riddle me this… if they posted them at the same time they probably had to take a long time producing it before telling anyone about it, so they both had the same idea at the same time.

Coincidental Creativity Should NOT be Used as an Excuse to Intentionally Copy Someone Else’s Work

It is important to understand that using “coincidental creativity” as an excuse to copy is not okay. You have to have the common sense and character to know when you are genuinely developing something with your own creativity. And when you do it release it into the world with confidence!! Because if someone swings around to accuse you, or say something about it, you can be like “actually, no I’ve been working on this for a couple of months now, it seems like we must’ve come up with the idea at similar times”! And again, I don’t think any idea is totally 100% unique. 

You can’t patent an idea or a technique. So you can’t prevent other people from also letterpressing, or using a certain font, or edge painting, or painting portraits of people, etc.

Once again, blatantly copying someone’s design concept and replicating it is not ok, but you are allowed to paint greeting cards with animals, you are allowed to make wedding maps and paint watercolor home portraits, you are allowed to create laser etched milestone markers on your Glowforge. Just come up with your OWN version.

What to Avoid — Examples of direct copying:

  • Using exact fonts & layouts as someone else for a suite

  • Using photos from listings that are NOT your own

  • Creating the exact replica of something you see on Pinterest and claiming it as your own

  • Image tracing someone’s calligraphy and using it on your designs

  • Replicating something a client sent you because they asked for it — have a backbone and say NO I do not copy other people’s work

What is your INTENTION behind creating? 

Are you creating because you just want to do what she did because it’s beautiful and it will sell or are you creating because you are driven by a desire & a need to provide something beautiful to sell and you are willing to experiment and come up with a version that is distinctly your own? What’s your why? Who are you doing it for?

Stand by Your Unique Presentation & Intention 

So sure, maybe no idea is original or unique, but your presentation of it IS so stand by that and stand strong, whether it’s box/folio making, bookbinding, die-cutting, earring making, you name it. Make sure you are seeking places that keep you inspired and minimize your time on social. That was if anyone tries to “jump” on you for copying them (when you know you genuinely didn’t) you have a leg to stand on and a reason/story behind what you’re doing why you’re doing.

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