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Imitation: Flattery or a rip off?


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#21 Chris Campbell

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 12:41 PM

I agree Slurrious ...
in some cultures independent styles are frowned upon until one can demonstrate a mastery of the craft. "Mastery" meaning they can do it as well as the Masters.
Art students are a routine site in museums as they spend hours trying to learn/see/copy how others were able to capture the moment. So why should potters be exempt from trying to teach their hands / muscles / minds to execute a certain technique?
Dwight Holland has donated his huge pottery collection to East Carolina University on the condition that any pottery student can take any piece back to their work area so they can learn from it. Learn from it is the key. You can't really learn how it was done until you can actually do it yourself. Also, you don't appreciate how hard it is until you try.
Granted, you don't stay planted there ... you move on unless your chosen profession will be forgery.

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#22 Lucille Oka

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 02:23 AM

I didn't make myself clear. I should have said 'real teachers' do not accuse their students of stealing. Students do not steal from teachers they imitate or mimic and should be expected to do so. If a teacher does not want a student to copy their work, they should only teach methods and processes and strongly emphasize the student’s individual design possibilities.




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#23 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:32 PM

In reading this discussion I am reminded of several great teachers I have known. I was at Super Mud in State College, Pa with Frances Senska when we listened to a criticism of production potters throwing the same mug over and over. France's said to me, "I have NEVER thrown the same mug twice!". She was my mentor in Montana as well as a friend of DaveShaner and the teacher of both RudyAutio and Peter Voulkos.
Another comment I heard was from Paul Soldner was that he use a cast of his naval for his signature "because everyone's is different." We all touch clay with a unique impression. I agree with?ucille about teaching. You musts teach students the how-to and lead them to find their path.That is teaching. I find teaching in Texas to be interestingly different from Montana where I taught for 25 years. I find it teaching to a recipe of predetermined objectives. y new students who had previous teachers want to be told what to do. I told them they needs a body of work by the end of the semester after starting them off with a few problems. it is a different world down here than from way up North. both my students and I are working our way out together.
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#24 ThisIsMelissa

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:04 AM

My love affair with clay is only beginning (having started in early 2011). I find myself being attracted to certain forms or techniques and initially, I find that I want to copy. For my own purpose, I think I want to copy so that I can learn the technique. But then later, do what I feel led to do with the technique.

I really have enjoyed hand-building. I've given pieces as gifts and my friend even bought a couple last week when she needed some last minute Christmas gifts. They weren't anything spectacular.... certainly not a copy from the artist I was inspired by.... different forms, different uses and definitely different glazes.

I have to say that I have whole boards on Pintrest that are devoted to inspiring clay works. Sometimes, I'll try to connect with the artist.... maybe asking about a technique or a glaze. I NEVER EVER presume that THEIR process is somehow free for MY taking. It's not! One artist was very forthright in saying, "my processes are patented and images are copyrighted" so I never share the techniques. I respect that and I respect her for taking steps to protect what it is that she does and does so very well. There are, however, some people who are very willing to share and even WANT to give advise so that you don't have to spend years and years trying to overcome some obstacle that they've now figured out. I think of these folks as mentors. They WANT to share their knowledge and experience. These are the people who do "how to" vids for CAD, who give workshops at local studios, etc. They are putting themselves out there as a mentor, they're teaching their specific way of doing things-techniques, tools, etc. They say, "give it a try.... let me know how it turns out". They get satisfaction and joy from sharing.

I actually get offended when people say to me, "oh, you're so creative. There's not a creative bone in my body." Well, I actually do NOT think I'm creative. Not at all. I think I can look at a piece and figure out how it was made and maybe make an attempt to make something similar. But I am NOT creative. I don't innovate. I don't do anything that's new. Really, there are very few innovators in this world. I don't even call myself an artist.... artists are creative.... they create work that move people. I'm very utilitarian in my thinking. "If I make this, how might it be used?" I'm careful to not assign names to things if they're not specific use (like a butter dish, for instance). I know, the general public has a hard time working with something that doesn't have a label.... but I at least like to challenge folks to think in that direction. I gave one of my pieces as a gift on Christmas. I didn't say that I had intended the use to be. But the recipient immediately said, "ah, a spoon rest". Cool, SHE assigned a use to it .... it happened to be the same use I'd originally started with, but I'd have been perfectly ok if she'd have said, "ah, a ring dish".

Where am I going with this? I dunno. I guess I'd love it if truly innovative works and their artisans could be respected and allowed to have their moment in the sun. Let them collect their reward for creating something new and exciting. But if that same artist is going to put themselves out there and give workshops and create "how to" vids of their process, then who are we to judge if a student of that mentor goes on to do something that's even more amazing?

#25 Benhim

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:18 PM

We all learn through copying and imitating those who have come before us. Eventually good artists make what most would consider original works. It's only through using others techniques, and studying the styles we see that we might create our own style and if we're lucky, improve our field in some way. You've got an advantage over me in some respects as I've been making pots for over 20 years. You've got a resource like CAD from the start.

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#26 Pres

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:30 PM

[quote name='SShirley' date='27 December 2011 - 09:45 AM' timestamp='1324997140' post='11399']
[/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.
[/quote]

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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#27 Guest_HerbNorriss_*

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 01:49 PM

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.

#28 teardrop

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:27 AM

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
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#29 Benhim

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:09 PM

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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#30 Dinah

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 04:05 PM

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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#31 Lucille Oka

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 02:49 AM

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! Posted Image



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 4”X7”. 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'.




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".

#32 Jules

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:20 PM

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.

#33 Benhim

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 02:30 PM

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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#34 phill

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:30 AM

Austin Kleon has a book that just came out called "Steal Like and Artist." It looks like an interesting read! austinkleon.com




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