Traditional Aboriginal artists paint their Dreaming, story or totem.
Aboriginal artists are encouraged to paint subject matter which they are permitted to paint as determined by the elders of their community.
Traditional Aboriginal people are usually given one or more stories or totems by the community elders when they're very young. It is their responsibility to learn every aspect of this part of their culture and they effectively become the custodians of this aspect of their culture which ensures that culture is not lost and is passed on from generation to generation.
Each artwork is original in its execution because it is not identical to any other painting - however, it may be of the same subject matter. Each painting will differ in the size, scale or detail. Importantly, each artwork is hand-painted by the artist.
The key difference between western artists and traditional Aboriginal artists are the cultural influences Aboriginal artists have.
Many art collectors see this difference between western and traditional Aboriginal as a distinct advantage and particular stories or totems painted by Aboriginal painters have become highly collectable.