Tuesday, April 14, 2009

copying versus inspired


Not my work.
A couple posts ago I wrote about copying. So here is a very cute little image of a girl in a wire cage. The photo is good. No distractions (no hand, ribbon etc.....This is NOT my work. A couple of Christmases ago I sold a bunch of work to an online store through etsy. My work is below (I did not take the picture nor would I have tied the ribbon onto the cage etc. mine were plain and simple no background distractions etc...). Mind you this work is a couple of years old. I have moved on. My friend Kristina had made a ton of wire cages for an installation she did and gave them to me I made these little collages and put them in the cages and SOLD out. I had no problem selling them. This online company still has the majority of the work they bought from me. The work of the little girl is made by the woman who bought my work from me. Is it Copying or Inspiration???? Do you think we as artists can avoid this???? Please I want your feedback.....thanks!

My work

(disclaimer the online site represents some really good artists. They have never bought from me since.)

11 comments:

Hens Teeth said...

Mmmmm...in this case it looks to me like obvious copying. If I was inspired by the cages, I would certainly not put my work into a cage, as that was clearly your idea. I would try and use the influence to go down a path that was my own. I know the edges are blurred on this, but what is the point of making an outright copy, unless it is just for your own private use and not to be put on the internet or sold as your copyright?

Candice Hartsough McDonald said...

oh man, that is so annoying. i agree with the other comment here, it seems to be copying. inspiration would have definitely taken hints from your idea, but then made it blossom into a whole new idea. this is something i worry about a lot, but i'm not really sure what there is to be done about it ... i mean besides some sort of "hey, you copied me!" email, or, in an extreme case, a lawsuit.

Jackie said...

Its difficult when you sell something to someone who then copies it. I can imagine doing that for my own interest, or a challenge to myself, but was the image then put out to sell the item? Because that is annoying, and copying. Dear me.
Very tricky. I suppose it goes on all the time. I once sold some brooches to a girl at a fair who gets things made in India, so I had my worries about that. I didn't realise it at the time.

Shabby Chick said...

Hi, I have nipped across from Hens Teeth, I hope you don't mind.

I would say yes they are copying personally, your style is so individual that it stands out a mile. But do remember that although they have copied something you made, YOU are the one with the inspiration, YOU can move on and create in different ways with different materials. They are stuck with no ideas of their own.Anyone who follows your work would hopefully not be tempted to buy a blatent copy.


Someone copied something on my blog, I am very much an amateur and not in your league at all but nevertheless they used identical fabric, same buttons etc as something I made. I don't mind anyone taking inspiration from what I've done and they probably never thought that I might be annoyed but I thought they could at least have put their own twist on it!

Mel xxx

Heather said...

Hmm...I would say that since they actually BOUGHT the first item from you and then created the second, they are obviously taking some heavy inspiration from you. But the whole idea of 'copy vs. inspiration is a very tricky thing to define.
However, you are the one with the true and original muse. And I think that stands out. Some how, a copy always looks just as it as...an immitation.

Mary said...

I would say copying. To me you are inspired to make something similar that you intend to keep for yourself or give as a gift (once). Copying you use an idea from someone else's cleaver achievement to make something very similar and then try to profit from it - and it makes me insane!

Kayla coo said...

Hi, I have popped over from Hens teeth too.
This is very frustrating as it's so obvious it is a copy.
I think all the comments here make valid points.
Wish I knew the answer!

Michala x

jenny elkins said...

Thank you all for your comments! I agree with all of them. It is a slippery slope!!!! We will keep making things though because that is who we are. It does make us all more aware of what we do.

Wild Somerset Child said...

Hello - I just popped over from Hen's Teeth also. Copying is so frustrating, but as has been said in earlier comments, it is the person with the inspiration who can always move on. It is hard when trying a new technique not to 'copy' initially, but outright copies for sale should be a no-go area. I have tried myself when posting something 'new' to acknowledge the source of the inspiration - and then move on to do my own thing. This seems to me to be courteous and good etiquette. Does this help?

Lori McDonough said...

Ugh! It's an obvious copy...and I must say very ballsy of her to have done business with you and then turn around and copy your work; passing it off as her own. I agree...unbelievably frustrating and something that all artists fear. I'm proud of you for rising above it, moving past it and not letting it change you as an artist. You go, girl! Besides...karma's a bitch...it will come back to bite her in one way or another.

Rebeca Trevino said...


Hi Jenny
i have just spent over an hour on your very entertaining blog, from current date to this date.

although i have to stop, now and get some sleep (i woke up at 4 am it is now after 6) when i read this post, i remembered something i read on a blog sometime back, and i wanted to share it with you. so i went back and found the link for you. please read it and send me a note and tell me what you think.

http://michaeldemeng.blogspot.com/2010/04/artistic-timeline.html

i know you have moved passed this, but i wanted to add my 2 cents: i do not think the person who made the piece in the first image 'copied' your piece. as it is very different from your piece. instead i think she might have gotten inspiration from our piece, and i really think she made it her own, took it to another level. which is what most artists do.

i have seen people take my ideas and make them their own too, and when i see it, i am thrilled. i teach workshops and i openly encourage my students to take what i have learned and make it their own, and take it to the next level, to grow the technique, to develop the idea further.

i too have tried techniques, and ideas that have been inspired by others. every workshop i attend inspires me with new ideas. every craft/arts fair i go to inspires me to try something new.

i guess there really is nothing new under the sun. please, i hope you don't mind me saying this, but you should feel honored, i would.
thanks for reading this, it got longer than i thought.

keep creating.