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Imitation: Flattery or a rip off?


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#1 Lucille Oka

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:25 PM

Why are so many CAD ‘readers’ in such a hurry to copy someone else's work? What is that about? If a technique on ‘how to’ is shown or discussed, why are so many of the ‘readers’ compelled to copy the work and right away, instead of utilizing the skills or methods for ‘their own’ works. I wonder if they are true potters or just copyists. Imitation is not flattering.
I had a ceramics class where I put up a black and white image of a decorated vessel. Everyone made the same basic shape. I removed the picture of the vessel from the wall. The time had come to decorate, the first person ready to do so wanted to use a red underglaze ‘like in the picture’. Well how shocked she was to ‘re-learn’ that the picture was in black and white. The second person ready to decorate wanted to do what the first person had done she wanted pink flowers ‘like hers’ (meaning the first person) I let her start her pink flowers. When I then told her the first person’s flowers were red she too was shocked. But these were people who had no knowledge of ceramics at all. They had to be tricked into trusting their own creativity.

I read so many comments of people wanting to ‘do the work’ like so and so, and can you tell me what is ‘she’ doing how is she doing this or that? Recently someone wanted to know what type of clay is so and so using to make their pots.

Hello?? Yoo, Whoo?? It is called creativity go and create.
To all the copyists out there- TRUST YOURSELF you have creativity within you, let it out. If you do, you will never have to copy someone else’s work again. And your work will be splendid because it is original. TRUST YOURSELF!


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#2 Pres

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:19 AM

Why are so many CAD ‘readers’ in such a hurry to copy someone else's work? What is that about? If a technique on ‘how to’ is shown or discussed, why are so many of the ‘readers’ compelled to copy the work and right away, instead of utilizing the skills or methods for ‘their own’ works. I wonder if they are true potters or just copyists. Imitation is not flattering.
I had a ceramics class where I put up a black and white image of a decorated vessel. Everyone made the same basic shape. I removed the picture of the vessel from the wall. The time had come to decorate, the first person ready to do so wanted to use a red underglaze ‘like in the picture’. Well how shocked she was to ‘re-learn’ that the picture was in black and white. The second person ready to decorate wanted to do what the first person had done she wanted pink flowers ‘like hers’ (meaning the first person) I let her start her pink flowers. When I then told her the first person’s flowers were red she too was shocked. But these were people who had no knowledge of ceramics at all. They had to be tricked into trusting their own creativity.

I read so many comments of people wanting to ‘do the work’ like so and so, and can you tell me what is ‘she’ doing how is she doing this or that? Recently someone wanted to know what type of clay is so and so using to make their pots.

Hello?? Yoo, Whoo?? It is called creativity go and create.
To all the copyists out there- TRUST YOURSELF you have creativity within you, let it out. If you do, you will never have to copy someone else’s work again. And your work will be splendid because it is original. TRUST YOURSELF!



Sounds like something really rubbed you the wrong way here. I have often found that following the work/style of someone else has raised my bar creatively. While I don't copy the style of a person, do borrow some of their techniques in my own work. I am a great admirer of the work of John Glick, and went to one of his workshops in Chicago at ART. Returning home, I made a few of his slab molds from wood in the same manner as his. I used them with students, talking about the forms and about Mr Glick's work with slides supporting my demonstration. They went over well with the student, and they would always do their own thing with decorating, and then actually adding on, and altering. For myself, I made a few as demos and that was it. What I did bring back was a love of layering texture and slips/glazes/underglazes etc. IT changed the way I work, but at the same time no one would call my work anywhere near the work of John Glick.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#3 JLowes

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:41 AM

I find that making a piece "just like" someone else is usually impossible for me anyway. Before I get to the end, I am adding or subtracting based on my aesthetic. But, my intent is to try and see what techniques I might use to accomplish a result, or if there is instruction, what techniques I might add to my own so I can use them again in my work.

I read an interesting comment on a Flicker photo site where the photographer/potter was displaying (dozens) close replicas of a famous potter's work. The commenter said "Imitate; assimilate; innovate", time to develop your own style. And that is what I try to do when adapting a form I admire into my own aesthetic. But copying a form, or glazing, directly is not for me.

I like your trick for the class. Were they imaginative, or delusional? LOL.

John

#4 scoobydoozie

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:20 PM

Maybe its the difference between an artist and a hobbyist. True artist create and hobbyists copy? (Not intending to offend anyone). I like you're "trick" to get people to create for themselves.

Unfortunately, in today's busy world, many people do not have time or take the time to experiment and develop their own style. I consider copying a form of flattery and learning as long as it is not SOLD and is for their own personal enrichment and learning. If they start copying and making verbatim pieces for sale or passing it as their own creation, then that is just wrong. I guess what is done with it makes all the difference to me.

#5 Lucille Oka

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:52 PM

This copying has been a notorious practice in the ceramics industry for eons and there is no creative reason for it. But there have been monetary reasons for it which I say is tantamount to stealing. They steal to sell and on someone else’s name, reputation, and skills. I abhor theft.

The students I mentioned were new to ceramics; some were new to the world of art. They had had no connection to any processes at all other than crayons in elementary school.
What I did by removing the image wasn't a trick per se. I knew they would copy not only from the image but also from each other. I just wanted them to make the work their own.

People will put their own points of color references in black and white images to relate to the subject matter; to pull into their own 'world of color’.

They weren’t delusional they were new to ceramics. The students didn’t know about the color changes of the underglazes upon firing; the red underglaze before firing looked pink.

Pres,
Yes, I get irked when I hear about or see copying of art works. It bugs me to no end, especially if the copyists are copying from contemporary artists. That is the worse. If the art work is over 100 years old, and we know by then the artists have died, and there will be no more of their work produced, I say okay go ahead try it. I have no problem with being inspired by old works or copying it. But they need to give credit where it is due. If the concept belongs to another they should say 'in the style of so and so' and not try to pretend it was a self divined epiphany!


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#6 Pres

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 09:01 AM

This copying has been a notorious practice in the ceramics industry for eons and there is no creative reason for it. But there have been monetary reasons for it which I say is tantamount to stealing. They steal to sell and on someone else’s name, reputation, and skills. I abhor theft.

The students I mentioned were new to ceramics; some were new to the world of art. They had had no connection to any processes at all other than crayons in elementary school.
What I did by removing the image wasn't a trick per se. I knew they would copy not only from the image but also from each other. I just wanted them to make the work their own.

People will put their own points of color references in black and white images to relate to the subject matter; to pull into their own 'world of color’.

They weren’t delusional they were new to ceramics. The students didn’t know about the color changes of the underglazes upon firing; the red underglaze before firing looked pink.

Pres,
Yes, I get irked when I hear about or see copying of art works. It bugs me to no end, especially if the copyists are copying from contemporary artists. That is the worse. If the art work is over 100 years old, and we know by then the artists have died, and there will be no more of their work produced, I say okay go ahead try it. I have no problem with being inspired by old works or copying it. But they need to give credit where it is due. If the concept belongs to another they should say 'in the style of so and so' and not try to pretend it was a self divined epiphany!




I had an interesting discussion with a Native American artist in Alaska several years ago about teaching art and doing lessons "in the style of". This came about due to the classes we had where a high interest by the students was around North Western graphic styles of the Native Americans. The artist contended that only a Native American should work in those graphic styles. To teach a lesson to non Native American students that emulated the style was a travesty. He also contended that teaching styles of Native Australians etc was the same. I could understand his concern, but when working with students, one of the best ways to get through the aesthetics and appreciation of the style was to have them to see what sort of effort came about to do it. In the end, we both came away frustrated, and with little common ground other than my appreciation for his work.

I guess when I "copy" the work of another, it is not really the style, but the technique that I borrow. My own way of working comes from several techniques borrowed over the years. Some on throwing, some on form, some on surface, and some on foot and ground.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#7 Lucille Oka

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:27 PM

No, I was talking about the copying of the commercial, contemporary potters such as those you find in the magazines or on CAD or at the art galleries, etc.

I am not talking about replicating the pottery of a culture. There are so many things that will be missed and possibly even trivialized in doing so. There are peoples whose work is so connected to their history and culture that to attempt to replicate it would be difficult and possibly even offensive. The works of cultural societies are to be approached, for lack of a better word, carefully.

I never teach Native American pottery. There are so many sacred symbols and signs that I couldn’t be sure that what I would impart will be correct. I could teach how to make it technically but it is so spiritual and so connected to Native Americans that I could not represent it properly.

If I decided to do lessons on Native American pottery I would confer with a Native American potter. I would prepare my class with the technical skills; coils, pinch, slabs, burnishing, and using pukis, etc. And then have the Native American potter come to my class as a guest to impart and explain the meanings of the ‘artistic styles’ of the people he/she represents. My hope is that it would be a respectful and gracious gesture.


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#8 LawPots

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 05:34 PM

This is so difficult, isn't it? Particularly for a student like myself. On the one hand, to learn how to control your medium, copying the work of others will give you the insight (and skills) necessary to create your own work. On the other hand, once you've managed to successfully copy another's shape, form, or decorative technique - then what? How many copies are no longer imitation, and move into theft? <br><br>Moreover, look at the traditional training in clay - it was the essence of apprenticeship where the student made perhaps hundreds of precise copies before becoming an independent master in their own right. So imitation is natural in pottery education. If the books and videos are any indication, pottery teaching is heavily "project" oriented. Some books are particularly oriented toward projects: "Here is a project [berry bowl, mug with slip decoration, ect.] Do these steps. At the end you will have [insert style of pot]." What could be more natural for the student to see a famous potter do something interesting and to try his or her hand at a copy? <br><br>Of course there is another trouble - the copy from admiration. In pottery, almost everything is on the surface to see - so it is difficult to hide anything. And, whether we are independently creative or not, if we find a shape or glaze personally attractive - we will find it difficult to seek out our own thoughts when it seems like we've got a great example that we would already prefer to imitate. I happen to like the work of the Korean and Japanese wheel thrown vessels that were adapted to use in the tea ceremony in the 16th and 17th centuries. I like that stuff - so is that why my bowls have tall feet, shallow profiles, and crisp rims? Is that why I make (ha! attempt) thin bodied pots? And, I also like the pots from potters that show some of those influences. So, deep down, do I want to copy their basic shapes and aesthetics? Sure I do - I like those shapes and glazes! What if my model is a contemporary potter?&nbsp; If I still like the pots, am I now prevented from <i>all </i>imitation of them?&nbsp; That can't be so - too much of the creative process happens in the subconscious. <br><br>And, finally, what is passing off an idea as your own? Some violin makers copy violins all the way down to the label. But the player knows the difference. Those violins aren't the same as the originals. What is a copy, after all, when something is handmade? This is the most difficult - a handmade thing can rarely actually be a "copy" of someone else's hand made object.<br><br>Forgery is obviously a terrible thing, as is large commercial enterprises that seem to take a good handmade object and imitate it and mass produce it so successfully that the value of the original is greatly reduced. Passing off work, trying to get attention by following a trend - some people know instinctively that this won't get them anywhere. This is a matter of intent. But, I think, to learn, we have to learn how to copy. And then, once learned, copying others is naturally set aside to be a part of the your skills so that you can copy, not the work of others, but the work of your own mind.

#9 Italian Sculptor

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:13 PM

Posted Image
Many artists recreate masters work in order to develop their skills by learning how they did what they did
or at least developing a way for themselves to make something similar. When learning a new technique
I think it makes perfect sense to at least make something similar and then use that information to use the
technique to create your own work.

#10 Italian Sculptor

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:15 PM

Posted Image
Many artists recreate masters work in order to develop their skills by learning how they did what they did
or at least developing a way for themselves to make something similar. When learning a new technique
I think it makes perfect sense to at least make something similar and then use that information to use the
technique to create your own work.

#11 soursop

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:10 PM

I agree with Italian Sculptor. I think it is perfectly alright to try and copy a piece of work you appreciate or are aspiring to create, the difference between whether it is "alright" or not, in my opinion, is whether one keeps copying or then branches off to apply what they have learned through the process to their own individual work. I think we all copy to learn, children imitate their parents or siblings to learn, and as adults I think we still do it, the only difference now is that we have our own individuality figured out, and so we adapt those things we imitate or "learn" to our own individual, hopefully:)

#12 Devany

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 04:35 PM

I believe that there is a large difference between inspiration and an attempt to copy. As artists we usually start out inspired by something or someone else's work and are taught by our professors or mentors to do things in certain ways. After all there are only so many ways to make a bowl or a mug. Rarely in the beginning does a student's work come close to replicating the teachers. But if that student never moved beyond that one professor he/she might find his/her work looking more and more like the teacher's. We all have to stretch... and we all have to be willing to learn new ideas as well as to share them.

The line is often crossed between sharing and ripping off, but really art is not about competition, it is about creating. That is the part that makes you feel good, not copying or winning.


This world is a BIG place and there is plenty of room for art of all kinds. As artists, we want people to respect our work and our ideas. If you are only copying someone else and never moving on to your own style then you cannot even respect yourself, let alone expect people to respect you. However, if you see work that inspires you to create something and you run with it and make it your own you can respect yourself and your work.
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#13 buckeye

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 06:38 PM

I feel sorry for someone if they feel the need to imitate me! Posted Image

I am constantly looking at others work and sometimes I see something I like a lot and I might take a part of something I like of theirs and incorporate it into something I do but I never try to copy something completely or make it look exactly like theirs.

#14 Lucille Oka

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:56 PM



I have learned the most from professors whose sole purpose was to teach; whether it was skills, material use, or technical processing methods with a great emphasis on safety.

The professor-teachers rarely showed their work. They did not have exhibits and shows. They wrote text books, did experiments, and did consulting.

I did not start out in ceramics looking at pots. I was very young and hypnotized by a wafting aroma. It was like a perfume. I didn’t know what the source was. Only years later did I find out what it was. It was the smell of a kiln firing.




John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#15 soursop

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 12:12 PM

I think I want to clarify what I was saying earlier; Imitation is NO flattery, I don't think I know a single person who likes having their work being replicated and that includes me. That being said, I believe an attempt to replicate something that you are inspired by will teach you new methods in your work process and give you a new perspective to see your work in, and it is those new methods and that new perspective, that you gain, which is invaluable. I do this every once in a while because I am looking to expand on my PROCESSES, not because I want to make the same object I see. This gives me insight into my own work and I feel I grow quicker through the exploration. The problem that I think most of you are worried about and sensitive to (as am I) is when someone begins to copy another artist's STYLE. Although I feel this will inevitably only be a passing tide in the life of that person doing the copying, since we can only pretend to be someone other than ourselves for a short while before we must accept we are, I still feel strongly that this type of imitation is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG; you offend the artist you are replicating and you are hindering yourself from being who you are meant to be.Posted Image

#16 Benhim

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 11:39 AM

This idea of protectionism of a style doesn't make any sense to me. I know many potters and not one makes the same exact pots year in year out. Subtle or even complete changes in their body of work occur in the course of a single year. The work produced by all the potters who I've had the great pleasure to study under has changed drastically since the first time I watched them make pots. Part of this is probably boredom, or maybe something more noble like striving towards excellence, but in any case our work evolves over time. If one stagnates and creates the exact work for years and years or their entire career, someone is going to either come up with something very much like it on their own, or copy them. By the time anyone can copy anyone else to the point of creating an entire body of work, the original potter most likely will have made significant advances in their own product which will set it apart. This does take talent and skill that maybe some people don't have. To act like anyone in the world is entitled to be the one and only person with some particular technique or style seems absurd. Even dating back to more ancient times all of the potters copied other's ideas. In this way pottery has grown to be what it is today. One person taking some idea from someone else, copying it, improving upon it and so on. The only way any form of copying could be considered stealing is if the artist signed someone else's name to it and sold it as such. Besides if we were really going to take this whole copying thing seriously, we'd all have to quit because pretty much everything we do came from generations of work by potters before us. I proudly stand on the shoulders of those who've come before me, and I'll give them all credit for teaching me.

BenCo Ceramics


#17 SShirley

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 11:33 PM

Could you please give some examples of the copying that you have seen on CAD? Maybe I haven't been paying attention. I knew a teacher once who accused a grad student of stealing from him when her work was TOTALLY different. He was the only one who thought hers was a copy of his. As far as learning techniques from workshops and books and things, isn't the whole point to try the techniques and adapt them to your own work?

#18 Lucille Oka

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 03:24 AM

Could you please give some examples of the copying that you have seen on CAD? Maybe I haven't been paying attention. I knew a teacher once who accused a grad student of stealing from him when her work was TOTALLY different. He was the only one who thought hers was a copy of his. As far as learning techniques from workshops and books and things, isn't the whole point to try the techniques and adapt them to your own work?



Teachers do not accuse their students of stealing. Teachers pass on what they know and love to do it. They love seeing the growth of interest and skills. As far as examples of copying on CAD just continue to read posts. Some folks do not trust their own creativity. Having the desire to create and then creating will make creativity grow. It must be cultivated. It takes work.
John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#19 SShirley

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 09:45 AM

[/quote]


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

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

#20 Chris Campbell

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 11:29 AM

I took a week long workshop with Rimas Vis Girda where we saw his signature style of pottery all week long ... He had a display of his pots and images of them ... his style is very strong and unique. On Thursday morning all the pots were gone and he challenged us to copy his lady ... The one we thought we all knew ... on to a tile. You can see where this is going ... not one person got it the same as his. Each person had expressed what they saw when they looked at her ... we could not copy him ... and believe me, we tried ... because we are not him.

These tiles are on display at the Appalachian Craft Center in the hand building area. A true testament to observation skills! :P

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