Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On copying the work of others

I have a good tale of Topeka tackiness for you. I was completely appalled by this. Monday on my lunch hour, I ran out to Hobby Lobby to pick up some jewelry findings and supplies. So, I am in the aisle with my basket and I see that the natural stone beads are half price. So, I look in the spot where I had bought some larger beads that I like, and there they were. There were two other ladies there talking and mulling over what they were going to buy. So, knowing that nearly every time I go to Hobby Lobby they are sold out of these particular beads, I just took them all and put them in my basket. These women who were standing there were kind of shocked. And then I took the remaining 3 strands of companion beads at put those in my basket also. They commented, and then I said, "Well, it's my livelihood." And the other lady said, "It's my livelihood too!" So, being the friendly person that I am, I said genuinely interested, "Oh really? What do you make?" She replied, "Bracelets and necklaces." And I said, "Cool. Then she asked about my jewelry and I told her about my wire work and where I sell my work. She had already seen my work at the library and was very complimentary. So, I gave her my business card, and told her to visit my website sometime. Now, this is where it gets tacky.... She then says, "Oh thank you! I can't wait to see everything on your site so I can go home and copy." Can you believe that?! So, then I explained why it is bad to copy, and that it is always good to learn techniques from others, but copying will neither benefit the copier or the designer. If the copy is a very good copy, the public will only recognize that the original designer made it, and the copier won't get any credit for it. And more importantly, the copier will be known for just that- copying, and people won't be interested. I told her these things, and it is best to only copy techniques. But truly, this woman didn't understand. Beading is a hobby for her that is fun. It has nothing to do with making art, or making a statement through the work. It's sad really. It is so much more fun to take inspiration from other things, like a garden, the sky, a building, a person, a poem, etc. The work then becomes thoughtful and meaningful, not just another way to make a quick buck. And believe it or not, the average person CAN tell if something has been copied, because the work has none of the original energy or spirit. If you are one of these people who copy, let me give you some tips on how you can come up with your own designs. We all copy to learn. But, it is unacceptable to copy someone elses work and sell it as your own. I know, there is so much out there that it seems impossible to come up with something original. Try some of the following: *Make the said design using different materials. Example: Original piece- natural oval shaped cabochon accented with copper wire and hung on sheer ribbon. Try: Large glass bead, silver wire, and leather cord. *Use a different color palette. *Change the shape and size. *Add surprise elements. * Most importantly, experiment! Don't be afraid to mess up or make something hideous. I often take the time to make something and then cut it up because I don't like it. *Keep trying, and don't give up. You can't develop your own look overnight. Use your own taste as your guide. But, be aware, it takes a year or two working in a medium consistently to develop your own look and style. Don't get discouraged, just play!

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