Real Artists Copy: An Conversation with Artist Nick Briz


New Media Artist and Educator Nick Briz has a perspective on copying, stealing and sharing on the web that all artists and creatives need to hear. Some of the topics we discussed in this episode include:  Why copying is our first tool as creators, how to be okay with the possibility of your work being copied, how to avoid appropriating cultures when copying and more. 

I first became aware of Nick and his work a few years ago when I found his How/Why to Leave Facebook video on Youtube. It was a big factor in why I opted to deactivate my account almost three years ago.

Where to find more info about Nick and his work: 

Nick's Website

Nick on Twitter

Nick on YouTube

Show Notes:

[02:20] Nick's Intro/ Intro to Glitch Art.

[03:05] Embracing the moment of the glitch: When something unexpected happens in the digital system.

[03:40] What Nick teaches in his Piratical (as in pirate) Practices course. Copying as key to creativity and not a threat.

[04:57] Being well-versed in your art and having references appear in your work is good. 

[05:04] Nobody works in a vacuum. Everything you make is a culmination of all of your influences. 

[05:34] Being aware that you're always copying and embrace it.

[05:57] Cryptomnesia- When you have a thought that is a memory, but your brain interprets it as an idea. This can lead to unintentional copying. *cough* Pharrell *cough* Robin Thick.

[07:36] How the word "genius" has evolved. 

[09:17] Michael Jackson vs. Prince and God/ the Genius

[10:54] Google an idea to see if someone else has had that idea. It can be discouraging is someone has an idea similar to yours, but that's how you know you're making contemporary work. 

[11:35]  Culture is not you in a white room alone yelling at yourself.

[11:59]  Copying is not the opposite of originality.  Copyright and intellectual property.

[12:46]  Copying is the first tool in the creative tool chest

[13:10]  How can we embrace possibly being copied

[13:20]  Two terms: Source Hypocrisy and Disnial (Disney Denial) 

[13:48]  Steve Jobs famously said that Good artists Copy, Great Artist Steal. But when Android came out, he wanted to destroys it. 

[14:33]  There's a difference between being inspired/ influenced and plagiarism. This is best understood in writing. 

[15:01]  If someone copies and gives you attribution, good. When attribution gets blurring, it starts to feel wrong. Be a participant in a conversation.

[15:37]  Great examples in open source/developer community. Github- Amazing culture of attribution.

[16:25] Loss aversion- Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson.

[18:06] It's always going to be better to put stuff out there than to not put stuff out there. Nick's experience in film school. 

[18:52] Putting his work online made all the difference for Nick. That's also when people started riffing/steal. But it's a price worth paying. 

[19:31] We need, as cultural producers, to build the nuances of copying into our systems. Tumblr vs. Instagram.

[20:38] Sharing gives you a time stamp. Just tweeting it gives you a timestamp.

[21:04] An idea is worthless by itself. 

[22:06]  Cultural appropriation as been happening forever, but there's a more articulated conversation. J C R Licklider and Bob Taylor (1968)- Life would be happier for the online individual, as relationships would be based on common interest vs. accidental proximity. 

[23:05] The web provides an unprecedented opportunity to be exposed to cultures we didn't grow up with it.

[23:34] Nick's guide for students who want to avoid cultural appropriation. Participation and investment.

[24:48] Highwater Show Picks

[26:08] Nick's Picks