Thursday, December 10, 2009

Copycat, Copycat, Woe, Woe, Woe

A topic has been coming up a lot around here lately and that is copying. It's not so cut and dry as that really, more the whole Inspiration/Imitation versus copying/plagiarism ball of worms. A few instances of copying and outright theft have made me very reluctant to put too much of my stuff "out there" for all to see.

I used to post pictures of nearly everything I did and even instructions for some of the stuff. Then one day, one of my most popular designs comes walking in my store printed on a light blue t-shirt. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked the lady where she got it. The CVS on Canal. Ripped off at home this time. Did they think I wouldn't see it sooner or later? And what a big ball of worms it is trying to sue them. The part that irks me the most is that is was on a pastel color. I designed it to be printed on black. It looks like crap otherwise. Steal my work and butcher it too. Jeez Louise!

I have on occasion copied someone else's work as a learning exercise. Learning the techniques they used to achieve the finished product. I think this is fairly normal. There was debate about this way back in school as to some of the art world's masters. I won't get into all that but of course they were influenced by and copied others. The point is that learning is one thing. It can be seen as a step on the path of developing skills and your own personal style. Copying others because you're lazy or unoriginal is something else. Copying someone else's work and claiming it as your own and/or profiting from it is a criminal act.

A sense of personal style is important. Certain things I like have suddenly come into vogue. I'm not sure I like that entirely. On one hand, they're easier to find now. On the other hand, it cheapens it. I cringe when I see fad chasing girls wearing skulls and studded accessories with Paris Hilton butt-ugly sunglasses with Hello Kitty boots. Ugh. This is one of the reasons why I like to make my own clothing and accessories. No mass marketed-everyone has it. When I do buy things, I don't mind forking over extra for one of a kind items.

My family and friends tease me about how I behave when some people ask where I got things. If they have a similar style, are creative, or we "click", I will tell them. But if they're just interested because it's something they deem trendy, I don't. Information is different. I will gladly tell you HOW I did something, where to get supplies, and names of artistic people you might be interested in. I will even SHOW you how I did something. Learn it and make it your own. In my little world, that's the way it should be.

I don't feel flattered when I am imitated. I get annoyed. Except last Halloween. My daughter dressed up as me for Halloween. I thought it was funny. I am told at least once a day that I look "just like that girl on NCIS." Sure thing. Except that Abby is a fictional character, is much younger, doesn't wear glasses, and doesn't have dreadlocks. I don't have neck tattoos and I'm not that pretty. We both have bangs, wear a lot of eyeliner, and dress in black. Then they usually ask if I am trying to look like her. I've looked like this most of my life and that show has only been on for a few years. So, NO.

I find inspiration everywhere, from other artists to a streaky evening sky. I don't suffer from a lack of ideas - ever. I suffer from too damn many ideas. And never enough time to breathe life into them all. My Muse works overtime. I certainly have no problem inspiring others, I love it actually. Inspiration for you to make something that had YOU stamped all over it, no a carbon copy of something I did. Know what I mean, Vern?

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