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Lucille Oka

Imitation: Flattery or a rip off?

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Pres    896

 

 

 

Teachers do not accuse their students of stealing. Teachers pass on what they know and love to do it.

 

 

We must have known different teachers. Some DO accuse their students of stealing.

 

 

I remember a very talented painting student in undergrad that had a painting that was in the year end show, spotlighted. Long story short he copied a painting exactly-his style, but same lighting, color, composition, even the technique. He was discovered by a visiting professor-the department was embarrassed, the professor was embarrassed the student was expelled. The idea was that given an assignment on a deadline he had cheated-everyone. Not the same as a student doing something in the same style as the teacher with a different composition, etc. In ceramics, I would see students try to create the same as the teacher-trying to throw loosely like Dontigny on the wheel for raku- disastrous! Others would try to create wall tiles like Stephenson-never the same and poorly planned. When does one move from student, to artist or potter? We have tried to answer this question in other strands. This "mimicry" strand is part of the answer. Another part is having the discipline to throw out a bad pot before it gets fired.

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Guest HerbNorriss   
Guest HerbNorriss

Chuck Close has stated that he, and many of the other artists that were part of the early SOHO scene (before there really was a SOHO scene) constantly copied abstract expressionists. He said it was because they all loved these people so much, that they were afraid that they could not ever make work that would say anything more, different, better than their work. They copied them to get their chops, and see how they had solved elemental problems.

Close said he could tell who Serra was into at the time by the colors of paint that he had spattered on his clothes, and that they all did it; Richard Serra, Brice Marden, Nancy Graves, etc.

When Close met Willem DeKooning, he said "It's nice to meet someone that has painted more DeKoonings than I have!"

But then, as we all know, they took this information and used it to create art with their own voices, their own perspectives on life and art.

I think copying is natural and necessary, especially in the beginning, to "get your feet under you", so to speak. I go to the Art Institute of Chicago quite frequently, and there are usually a few students in there copying old master paintings VERBATIM, or as close as can be accomplished. They're soaking it all in of course, to be used later ina new and exciting way.

If you do NOT ever go on to create your own work, or just plagarize work as Pres related above, that you are a 'rip-off' as Lucille has suggested. I guess a lot of people just can't endure the time and effort it takes to find their voice and style, so they opt for a shorcut. They are really only shortcutting themselves and the art/craft world. The loss of a single creative person is a blow to all of us.

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teardrop    2

I've always heard the phrase "Imitation is the highest form of flattery" ("Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" is attributed to Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832).

 

When I started to think about making peices other than thrown peices I headed to the Net to see what others have made. There I found things that drew me in and sparked my interest in a certain style or form.

 

Yes, I tried to copy those forms. However, it was with only marginal success...and while what i ended up kinda/sorta looked like the peice i was trying to emulate, it was quite a bit off the mark of a true "copy". As i did further peices in the same >style< I began to see that I was imparting my own thoughts/tangents/expression into the peice and was moving farther and farther away..not closer to..the original peice.

 

I also noticed that i couldn't/can't yet even copy my own work. LOL. Try as I might....same starting shapes....none of them were >exactly< the same.

 

maybe someday, huh? LOL.

 

thanks for the question

 

teardrop

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Benhim    3

It's really a matter of respect right? Making exact duplicate work of someone who is currently selling that same work is disrespectful. I can duplicate all my instructors, not just make work somewhat similar to theirs, I mean copy exactly. Out of respect I don't use those skills and knowledge to copy their works. It's also a matter of self respect, with out creating my own work I would not feel fulfilled. That said, I still would postulate that no one owns a style of work, or a type of design. It simply a matter of respecting each other's work.

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Dinah    6

I use teapots by Geoffrey Whiting -- deceased UK potter -- almost daily. When I recently wanted to throw a series of teapots with fresher shapes and shuck off some old lid/gallery ideas which I felt lacked proper craftsmanship...and, frankly, I could do better; I decided a tutorial was in order and placed a GW on the ware board beside me. His are thrown in porcelain, probably gloss fired to ^9/10. His lids are are beautifully set in and I had several aha! moments about spout placement and finishing the line from base of spout through the body. Are they just like Whiting's? I think not, but the tutorial has helped my teapots move forward.

 

Spout placement is an interesting social construct possibly dividing east/west tea preferences. Reading Robin Hopper's Functional Pottery last night, I came across the idea that stronger English brewed -- not stewed -- tea likes to come from a teapot with the base of the spout set down the body. Now, am I going to have to label my teapots Western tea brewing or Eastern tea brewing? Perhaps even cite the best blend of teas to use in each pot. Now, there's a marketing idea! ;)

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Lucille Oka    16

I use teapots by Geoffrey Whiting -- deceased UK potter -- almost daily. When I recently wanted to throw a series of teapots with fresher shapes and shuck off some old lid/gallery ideas which I felt lacked proper craftsmanship...and, frankly, I could do better; I decided a tutorial was in order and placed a GW on the ware board beside me. His are thrown in porcelain, probably gloss fired to ^9/10. His lids are are beautifully set in and I had several aha! moments about spout placement and finishing the line from base of spout through the body. Are they just like Whiting's? I think not, but the tutorial has helped my teapots move forward.

 

Spout placement is an interesting social construct possibly dividing east/west tea preferences. Reading Robin Hopper's Functional Pottery last night, I came across the idea that stronger English brewed -- not stewed -- tea likes to come from a teapot with the base of the spout set down the body. Now, am I going to have to label my teapots Western tea brewing or Eastern tea brewing? Perhaps even cite the best blend of teas to use in each pot. Now, there's a marketing idea! wink.gif

 

 

 

I found the sweetest little book at the local library. It is called Victoria & Albert Museum Teapots in Pottery and Porcelain. Small Picture Book No.9

The approximate size of the booklet is 4â€X7â€. It has 28 pictures all in black and white. Most of the teapots are 18th Century but there are a few from the 19th Century. There are plenty of ideas for you here. These potters are long gone they can't mind their pots being used as a 'tutorial'.

 

 

 

 

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Jules    1

This is an interesting question for me as a) I have had my work or ideas 'stolen' which at the time annoyed me a great deal and b ) I felt frustrated when continually asked at university to reference famous artists' work for inspiration. Personally I don't look to others for inspiration or ideas. I'm talking in general here not specific to ceramics, which is a new subject to me. In my opinion there is little to no merit in 'copying' others' art - I don't think it's a learning tool whatsoever, it's a hindering tool to true creativitiy! I very much doubt that the most successful and emotionally satisfied contemporary or historic artists spent all day looking over other people's shoulders for ideas - 'picking up other people's cig butts' is what my old art tutor used to call it. However, of course, analysing others' work, studying it, methods, techniques, what it represents, yes, is vital. No offence to those who do, but I honestly couldn't be bothered to recreate work someone else has already done it would be a major yawn and I couldn't do it for money.

 

As for being copied, hey ho, if that's what someone needs to do let them get on with it, of course not if serious breach of copyright or intellectual property rights. I'm atheist but the saying 'Let Go and Let God' when it comes to those people helps me. Also, I learned it's best to get on with ideas than discuss them with others - collaboration is one thing, feeding the pigeons is another.

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Benhim    3

I find it an odd notion that people would choose to ignore all those who have come before them. I've have found much insight from previous potter's works, in all aspects of the ceramics process. Notably form and function, as well as a wealth of knowledge about glaze chemistry from the thousand years or so I've been able to research of pottery history through books, images, web pages, and knowledge passed down through word of mouth. This has dramatically changed not only my work, but my process and my mindset toward ceramics as a whole. I have lived during one of the best times in Ceramic art history. The industrial revolution has led to manufacturing processes that make my job as a ceramic artist possible with out having a dozen or so men working in my studio preparing all the various parts of my process. I can be a one man band in the field of ceramics which is very liberating. Once we understand how far we've come, and where we are, it's easier to see where we're going. Even if where we choose to be is back mixing our own clay and glaze from hand dug materials in our local area like the potters used to have to do.

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