Yesterday I was uploading some of my Etsy pillows onto my Pinterest Boards. At first, I was adding them to obvious boards. Zoo animals. Kids Pillows. I was having a great time looking at baby elephants and baby hippos.
The colors are happy, like a pre-schooler’s box of crayons. The patterns and color choices are from Kids Quilts, Inc., one of my absolute favorite pattern designers of quilts for kids. The only style I can take credit for is the fact that I like the look, a lot. The pattern designers, Christine and Rachael, show their style through the shapes of animals, the smiles on the faces, the placing of the quilt blocks and the color choices.
I began to upload another set of pillows, this time from a circus pattern. While I selected my own fabrics, the print choices were based on Debora Konchinsky’s original quilt kit. Once again, my finished products are based another designer’s style.
I began to upload the pillows that I made from batik fabrics and animal shapes. The horse and giraffe came from the circus pattern and they rest from coloring book shapes. I love how I used the patchwork as a single fabric when cutting out the shapes. I also had fun with the neon colors as I dumped all pieces into a grocery bag, then blindly selected them. I chose the patterns, the colors, the sizes. They are my defined style which I describe in this blog post: where scraps of fabric and bits of nature come together.
As I uploaded the neon pillows and used the ‘show me more’ button that brings up pins with similar themes, these pins came up, along with the word Bohemian (Boho).
I knew the word, but not what it meant as a style. Google searches revealed a rich history. I found a description of Bohemian in this article “Boho Fashion History and Bohemian Style” by Dolores Monet:
“Bohemian style has, for over 200 years, been an exotic alternative to the accepted fashions of a given period. Generally associated with artists, writers, and intellectuals, bohemian culture incorporates various ethic clothing styles, as well as historical costume.
Bohemian style consists of loose, colorful clothing and has been known as boho chic, hippie style, and Aesthetic dress. With their long flowing hair and rich, though threadbare fabrics, bohemians stand out in a crowd representing a colorful counterculture based on creativity, poverty, and an indifference to social structures and traditions.”
The images below show traditional European dresses and the Bohemian dresses of 1868. The painting on the left was done by Renior.
The two images below show Bohemian styles then and now.
My favorite look is the woman on the right because of the bright colors and mix of prints. But then I froze for a minute. If bright colors and mixed prints is Bohemian, then did I just copy something I had seen sometime in my past?
Obviously, my pillows aren’t Bohemian just because they have colorful patchwork. It was a silly thought, but it made me think about style and influence. These words at the end of Ms. Monet’s article summed up what I was thinking:
“But as mass media embraced bohemianism, one wonders if the term is still viable. When a counter culture goes mainstream, the style can no longer be viewed as alternative.
When discount stores sell peasant skirts, and fashion magazines offer expensive designer made bohemian style garments, the nature of the bohemian life has become a cultural norm, and no longer unique and specific to a particular group.”
A few months ago, I mentioned to a friend that I felt individual creativity was being lost to Pinterest and Google. Instead of creating, we type words into a search field and all the arts and crafts of the world becomes available in an instant. (As an interesting side note, some people called Robert Morris, the founder of the arts and crafts movement, a Bohemian.)
I read this definition of creativity in Christopher Kerry’s blog post, “Four Steps to Your Own Signature Art Style”. (Yes, I Googled ‘definition of style’ into the search field).
Students of art and English probably know this already. They spend time studying the works of those who had come before. They consciously and subconsciously edit the things they see and their own style begins to come out in their work. The greatest artists and writers are those who have the ability to distance themselves from all they have seen.
Some artists have embraced the Internet. They have taken the images from the web and created new styles. Their styles are as different from each other as Renior is from Picasso.
I haven’t studied art. I haven’t taken a quilt class. I learned by making patterns. My mini works of art may not end up in a museum, but they were created by me, they are different from anything I have seen, and they are true to my style’s definition: where scraps of nature and bit of nature come together.
The ‘show me more’ button on Pinterest doesn’t scare me now. I don’t use it to find something for me to copy. I use it to find colors and patterns for the home that blend with my style. While I’m not Bohemian, I created this board just for fun:
How have you dealt with mass media as you create with your style?