View this email in your browser
In the coming weeks Highwater will be testing out Facebook's new Instant Articles feature. Can you help us out by liking our Facebook page? Thanks! -C

Happy Friday <<First Name>>, 

I've been thinking a lot about the notion of copying after posting our podcast episode with new media artist Nick Briz last Tuesday. Since copying is one of the first tools we have as creatives, I want to challenge you to copy a creative this week. 

Before I explain further, I want to make a distinction between copying, which is good, stealing, which author Austin Kleon says is great, and robbery, which is unethical.

To observe someone else's work and attempt to duplicate it. Copycats get a bad name, but we do it all the time. We learn how to write an essay by using the example the teacher gives us. We learn a dance move by watching someone else do it, and by trying to mimic their steps. All tutorials do is invite us to copy the teacher so we can learn a skill. When you copy someone, you do it for the purpose of learning. Copies are rarely if ever the same quality as the original, and that is the point. Attribution is either given plainly, is obvious to observers of the work, or is evidence of a fundamental of the craft, thus is considered a matter of theory or technique. For example, if I started rapping, at this point no one would assume I invented rapping.

In one of the earliest issues of The Highwater Weekly, I wrote about stealing as a mark of a great artist. Author Austin Kleon explains that when we steal, we make something our own. For this to work, we have to ignore the primary meaning of the word 'steal' for a moment, which means to take from someone without the intention of returning. In a creative context, stealing is about incorporating multiple influences, not just one, as well as making something that improves on these originals. In this sense, Steve Jobs stole rather than copied the concept for a mouse from IBM because he didn't just make a mouse like theirs, he corrected the features that kept IBM's mouse from being commercially viable. 

In other words, to make something your own, to "steal" it, you must improve on the idea significantly, and pull references from multiple places. 

Robbery is the most accurate way to describe the kind of creative theft that makes people the most uncomfortable. By definition, robbery is different from stealing in that it not only involves taking something, but causing harm to the owner/originator. For creatives, this harm can include not making every effort to give proper attribution, taking an idea and then blocking the originator's ability to use it, or even the ability for the originator to profit from it. One example is the many claims independent jewelry makers have made against big-name retailers who take their designs without attribution or partnership.

To summarize, the purpose of-
Copying is to learn.
Stealing is to improve.
Robbing is to harm. 

Now that we've cleared that up, feel free to copy an artist you admire this week, or even copy several and create something that is better or different from the original. 

For more info on how to be an ethical creative copycat, click below to listen to my interview with artist Nick Briz. 

To Creating Consciously,
Chakka AKA Black Terry Gross. 

Highwater Weekly Picks  
Note: Award details and deadlines are subject to change. Consult each application website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. 

  • WRITERS: Hub City Press offers three residencies per year in an historic cottage in downtown Spartanburg, S.C. The program is open to emerging writers in the United States who have completed a college degree in creative writing within the past five years or are pursuing a graduate degree in writing. Residents receive lodging, utilities, and a stipend; they are responsible for their own transportation and meals. Residencies include a community service component of 15 weeks with the Hub City Writers Project, and offer a stipend of $150 a week. Deadline is June 1. Apply Here.   
  • You're So Talented is an awesome web series that captures the broke artist struggle to a T. The series is produced by OpenTV, which was founded by podcast episode three guest Dr. Aymar Jean Christian. Watch both seasons here. 
  • There's a brand-new episode of the highly-regarded web series Everything Is A Remix that focuses on all of the cultural remixing you can find in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Watch here
Web-based readers: Welcome! Click here to subscribe!
If you have any suggestions, questions or submissions for The Highwater Weekly, please send them to

If you would no longer like to receive THW, I'll miss you, but we're still cool. Just hit "Unsubscribe".
Share the Love! Click to Tweet: 

Creative career tips, funding info, film/music recs and more! Subscribe to #TheHighwaterWeekly @HighwaterMag
Keep Sharing! 
Share on Facebook
Tweet it Out
Forward via Email
Like Copy, Rob or Steal? - The Highwater Weekly #33 on Facebook
Copyright © 2016 Highwater MAG, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp