I was contacted the other day by an educational board in Australia who were clearing permissions for an Australian schoolgirl to use some of my images in her research project. I've never heard of this being done before, but apparently they do it for every student. In the light of the new ERR Bill and changes to Orphan Works legislation here, I thought this was an excellent practice to introduce and make pupils aware of in the very early stages of their creative careers. So I asked if I could see the project in question, and whether it was OK for me to write about. They said it was, and sent it to me.
It's awesome, frankly. Awesome not only to see the impact my own scrawlings are having on a little girl I don't know on the other side of the world, and that she likes them enough to write about them, but awesome because it's so very thorough, well-written and observed.
I once wrote a blog containing the sentence 'there IS no School of Inkymole', but if there was one, this girl looks as if she's attended and been on time every single day of term. She makes connections between my work and historical illustration that I never have myself (but was pleased to see), observes influences from classical art and design movements, and notices inspirations which to me are largely unconscious, but clearly obvious enough for her to identify.
Having worked all of this out, she proceeds to reverse-engineer the work to find out how she can do it herself, with a series of well-executed pastiches and practice pieces, to satisfyingly high standards (I particularly like 'In The Style of Inkymole'.) She colour-codes the work so you know what's hers and what's mine, and what's an external reference. She then tops it off with a forensic bibliography showing references extending way beyond the internet. (Fabulous. Degree students - take note!)
Some illo-grumps I've come across might say this is a thing to be wary of, a schoolkid 'aping' my work with an apparently laser-like view to upstaging my career one day, but I don't see it like that at all. A), she's obviously already skilled and hard-working enough to have her own style one day. B), by the time she does, I'll have moved on, several times. And then C), the work's so carefully done, and she writes with so much warmth, that I can't find a single reason to be grumpy about anything!
I'm not allowed to know who the student is (and I've had to edit some bits of the info), but whoever she is I applaud her little project and feel the absolute wonderfulness of being a positive creative influence on somebody I've never met. Thanks, mystery stude! You made my day.