Art Frequency Illusion: seeing repetition in artworks

armadillo mandala coloring page

I posted armadillo mandala coloring page to a coloring group. I got a reply from another artist that she had drawn one too. She had seen a third artist with another. How interesting! I started looking into these strange coincidences. It’s a repeated joke among creatives that there are no original ideas left. Still, is it really this common to see redundant drawings?

Art Frequency Illusion

After some googling and head-scratching, I finally found it. These unrelated repetitions are known as Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Also known as frequency illusion. Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a psychological effect. I could not explain it better than the description. Basically: you know and have seen XYZ before. When XYZ is fresh and more sights of XYZ happen it seems repetitious. This is the phenomenon.

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon examples

You may have experienced it yourself. Has a friend ever has told you about a band you had never heard of before and suddenly you see that band mentioned everywhere? My friend Sheryl Hayes bought a blue Toyota RAV4. Suddenly, everyone seemed to have a blue RAV4. She thought of a story idea and ran it by someone. That person was also writing about that idea.

This is one of many things I adore about being an artist. There are so many new things to discover about art. I’ve been an artist my entire life and every day I learn new things about it. This self-educational process never stops. I will learn everything I can about art but I can never learn it all.

Check out Nancy Palmer’s armadillo mandala at her Etsy store.

Author: Colleen

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