Great Minds Really Do Think Alike

When George Harrison wrote My Sweet Lord, did he know the melody was a note-for-note replication of The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine? He was, after all, found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism”.

What about Ray Parker, Jr. and his theme to Ghostbusters? Most will remember the song for its repetitious call-and-response hook: “Who Ya Gonna Call!?  Ghostbusters!” But that’s not the part of the song Mr. Huey Lewis thought was most interesting. What Huey Lewis found fascinating was the fact the song’s backbeat was exactly like the one he wrote for his song I Want a New Drug. Did Ray Parker, Jr. realize he had used previously written material?

Or is it possible for two completely separate minds, fully unaware of one another, to conceive the same artistic vision?

Up until a few years ago, I’d have told you both George Harrison and Ray Parker, Jr. ought to be ashamed. I would never have believed two unconnected artists could realize the same artistic vision in such an uncanny manner. But then I had an experience that changed my mind on the subject forever.

Back in 2002, my freelance illustration business was doing pretty well and I decided to have some baseball jersey-style t-shirts made up with a new compelling illustration. You know, expand my advertising presence a bit. The concept I came up with – completely on my own without any external input of any kind, mind you – was a pair of red woman’s lips with a human eye looking out from inside the mouth. I dubbed it the “EyeCandy Logo” and it was good. Panda wore her EyeCandy baseball jersey frequently and with sincere pride (until she outgrew it, of course). But the best part is that my tactics were successful. I got work as a direct result of that design. Man, I love it when a plan comes together.

I can’t recall exactly how much later it was, but at some point I happened to be browsing art prints online and I stumbled across a Polish artist I had never heard of before by the name of Wojtek Siudmak. There wasn’t much of his work to look at, but then it really only took the one painting to leave me gaping and dumbfounded. The piece was entitled Le Regard Gourmand* and was an oil rendering of an artistic concept very familiar and dear to me: a human eyeball peering out from behind a pair of red, pouty woman’s lips!

As you can plainly see, this incredibly talented painter, who had no connection to me whatsoever, came up with the same artistic concept I did, before I did, and better than I did.

Mr. Siudmak’s attorneys have not contacted me even once in the four-year interim, which I take as a very good sign. Besides, I spent any royalties that might possibly be deemed his long ago on cat litter, dog food, and light bulbs.

*Le Regard Gourmand translates "The Greedy Glace".

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
This entry was posted in Can I Say Something? and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Great Minds Really Do Think Alike

  1. sdede2 says:

    Don't short change yourself, while Siudmak's might be better for a wall. Your's is better for a jersey.

  2. Red Pen says:

    Or is it possible for two completely separate minds, fully unaware of one another, to conceive the same artistic vision? I don't think it's far-fetched at all. Concepts, musical patterns, and turns of phrase are not limitless, and sooner or later there is bound to be duplication. There is endless repetition of patterns in nature.

  3. Jay says:

    What do they say, put ten chimps in a room with ten typewriters and
    unlimited time and they'll eventually write Shakespeare? Well I'm
    pretty sure that's not true, and I'm not saying anyone here is a chimp
    (at least I don't THINK so) but there's got to be some universal themes
    that underlie human thought and subconscious, separate from culture,
    language and experience. I'm no student of Jungian philosphy, but it
    may just be a side effect of the collective human subconscious.

  4. The Artist D says:

    I concur that this is very possible and probably happens more frequently than any of us realize. Writing books, painting pictures, designing websites and the plethora of other artistic fields I have dabbled in has made me realize the truth of this. Several times I have done something that's already been done without realizeing it has. In fact I think I have come up with the assumption that no matter what I do or create, someone else has at least thought of it before. We are all unique but yet all the same.

  5. I have a piece of art I consider to be the best thing I ever did. Inspired by how I feel about my Love, about lying in his arms. We have friends who were in diplomatic service in Europe, and the first time he walked by it he said "nice ripoff". Turns out there is a painting by some famous European artist that did a very similar thing, same colors, same sort of orientation of the people, same use of waves/water as I did – and before me and better than me. Bastard.
    I swear I've never seen it though. Who knows, I might have seen it flipping through a book in art class in high school, and subconsciously replicated it twenty years later?

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