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Mudslinger Ceramics

Non-Legal Ways To Address Copying Issue

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Work in a shared studio with 2 other potters, been there 2 years. One potter is a lighting designer using porcelain as the shade forms and late last year she was experimenting with Keraflex but was not happy with the slight warping.

 

Since my exhibition 3 months ago of my fine paperclay forms where the paperclay resembles translucent 'handmade paper' she asked 'polite' but enquiring questions about my process. I refused since it took me 10 years of R&D and is my signature work .... so she starts hounding me and I really said no! Now she's started experimenting based on what she sees in our shared studio situation.  It has really hampered my work and my own experimentation.

 

Yes, unfortunately it may well come down to lawyers in the end but I wonder what other ideas might be out there that I haven't thought of yet?

 

Have you had this problem?   What did you do?

 

Irene

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In your situation, I would find private studio space. Unless you want to try to patent your process, you can't really stop someone else from trying to replicate it.

That said, whatever work another person does with your process will stil be different from your work.

Imagine if the inventor of the potters wheel had said "I spent years making this thing work! No-one else can make pottery using this technique!". Or if there was a copyright fight over calculus.

In papermaking, there are different additives you put in your pulp to help it bind together. You use different ones depending on the type of fiber you're using. If you mix them together, you get some neat effects. I did this by mistake. Later I learned that someone tried to patent mixing those two additives together, as a unique process.

Personally, I like to share stuff. I share recipes and ideas all the time. Maybe someone else will do niftier things with my idea than I could.

hershey8 likes this

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I think it much easier to be generous with your R+D when it is not your living.  And I have found that the people who take pictures of my work at shows and copy it by the time the next show comes around are often not very good potters themselves and are desperately trying to convince the buying public of their skills.

I set up my private studio for just these reasons several years ago, leaving a co op where nothing I developed was safe from immediate copy.  Often 'things' disappeared from the group studio and reappear with other's names on them.   Desperate. 

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It is a shame that you feel you can't work in the studio from fear of her stealing your process. I understand you value the 10 years you put in, either you have to find a trade, something she can give you in return, or failing that, maybe start on another project for a while until she gets bored.

 

It's funny, some ideas I thought were mine turned out to be somebody else's that I had just completely forgotten that I had seen them do it.

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Guest JBaymore

For non-legal ways of dealing with the copying......... you could blow up her workspace in the studio. That would certainly be "non-legal". ;)

 

Seriously.... keep making your work. You'll do it differently. Look at how many people try to make Malcom Davis and Tom Coleman American Shino pots. They don't.

 

"Stay Calm and Make More Work."

 

best,

 

..........................john

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1) I feel all artwork is derivative.   Whether your inspiration comes from nature or someone else,  all work is based on some other previous work.

2) I take it as a compliment someone likes my idea enough to try to copy it.

3) I feel a derivative of my work is never something to run from or try to quash.   If anything I feel as if it should be used to focus on making my own product better else I risk stagnating in my work.

 

 

Granted if the above doesn't appeal to you and you prefer the walled garden approach,  then I would also recommend a private studio space.

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One of the important things that I learned getting my BFA and MFA is that very little that we do is truly original. From technique to content, most things are built upon the practices and experience of others. For instance you are asking a question on a forum for ceramic artists, asking for our opinions and experiences in a matter, and we're sharing things that we have learned, with you. Unless you developed this process in a vacuum, you probably are incorporating things that you learned from others. Others who probably don't begrudge you working from their experiences. This is not saying that you need to show your studio mate how, but if she wants to figure it out for her self, get over it and don't stress over it. Even if she were to attempting to copy your work, chances are it would be totally different anyway.

I have absolutely no problem with sharing the techniques that I have developed with my peers. ( techniques I developed from a combination of school, workshops, and practice. ) and even when I share my templates with friends, nothing that they do could be mistaken for my work.

Lastly, any generosity that you put out there will likely be returned to you one day. What if your studio mate improves on your technique, would you want her to keep it to herself because you've been so mean and stingy with sharing your experience? Or would you want to learn from her, and consequently improve your own work in the process.

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Turn it around on her and make a shade with your technique.  I would bet that she will get the hint and it will result in a meaningful discussion about respecting other's work.

 

This is my favorite answer. In my experience the only people who don't respect others' ideas are the ones who have not yet had their ideas copied. When it happens to them they will realize the sense of violation they have caused.

 

I whole-heartedly agree with the notion that we are all repeating ideas that we have seen before, but this situation is far more specific. Between two professionals, where one has already said "no" and explained that there was 10 years of development involved, for the other to proceed to attempt a copy is not ethical at all.

LeeU, TwinRocks and S. Dean like this

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The one key point that it seems all responses have missed is that the OP states that the studio mate is EXPERIMENTING. Is the studio mate marketing and selling these pieces? In a communal or shared studio, we need to all be aware of the vulnerable times shared amongst all.

 

I personally do a lot of reproduction work. I learn a lot about making pots from making others' pots. It doesn't mean I'm cutting into their business, but it does mean I'm questioning ownership, and being just as critical of others as I am myself.

 

My initial response is that you don't seem well acclimated to a communal studio environment. That being said, I don't know anything about you or your day to day interactions with your studio mates, but I do certainly suggest you evaluate what a communal studio provides, and if it's not right for you, move on (or out rather!).

 

Cheers!

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Guest JBaymore

Here again... like the "black clay" discussion... we simply do not have the WHOLE picture. One side profile.

 

I'd love to see pictures for the work of BOTH individuals side by side.

 

And then .... just for yucks..... put up some pictrues of "well respected" artists by the other two ...... side by side with the people (or works) THEY have been influcenced by.

 

It has often been said that the "originality" of your work is directly linked to the obscurity of your sources.

 

best,

 

....................john

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First, maybe it's time to get your own private studio space if that is economically possible.

 

Two ... I teach workshops and my opening statement goes something like this ....

 

"I will share everything I know, I have no secrets, I will not hide any process parts because quite frankly if you can catch up to my 25 years experience with one workshop, I am in the wrong business."

 

Three ... I went to your website and saw your work ... You have your own unique voice ... your work is alive and quite powerful. Do not let this person mess with your head. Let them go their own way while you go yours. Stop looking in that direction and focus on what really matters ... Your lovely work.

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Having your work copied can lead sometimes a messy situation.  I was accused of copying a MA students work in college, after they investigated and understood there wasn't any way I could of seen his work.  The MA students loaded the kilns so he saw my work  and copied it, he was graduating so they didn't discipline him. It didn't bother me that much that it was copied, it was just the accusal.  So sad that he wasn't confident in his own work,  I was just a junior.   Denice

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I hate to say it, but I don't think you'd have much of a legal case.  I don't know much about Australian intellectual property law, but unless you've patented or otherwise protected your technique from use by others, she can probably do what she likes with your technique--provided she's not explicitly copying your body work (as in specific pieces).  This is especially true if she's working to figure it out on her own.

 

I would go the approach of appealing to her good will, since that's really what's at issue here, respect and good will.  Ask her to maybe leave this one to you, since you see it as the essence and identity of your work.  I'm sure you've made an attempt at that already, but it's worth another shot.  Failing that, find another studio mate, that one doesn't sound so great.

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As said above, it is very unlikely unless very gifted that she will approach anything like you are making Irene.

This stuff if allowed can kill you , you have said in another post that you are coming out of a horrible month....

You've told her how you feel. If she continues, can you be free to create in her presence/

If strong, and like to play games or have time to, you could go to the making light shades area, but that takes a lot of energy.

Some times sharing a work space, the "copying" comes from questioning or osmosis.

Pretty upsetting but by the time she catches up with you you'll be in another place on the mountain.

If you're not giving it, it's stealing.

Or you could hold a workshop , charge bucks and make her Pay at least a little!!

Just work with your clay.

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Many thanks to all for the encouragement!          Answers to some of the queries:

 

Private studio space is screamingly expensive in my part of town, this shared space fee includes all the water and electricity I want plus use of a large gas kiln

 

Colby,  she is experimenting/copying with a view to selling under her own label....her own earlier methods are not translucent 'enough' for her which is why she wants my product....her regular work is very beautiful but very different fom mine until these last couple of months ...  also...she is VERY secretive about her signature process, everything is locked away in 4 big cupboards at the end of the day...took it to be some weird artistic eccentricity up til now,

 

clay lover, yes, much, much easier to share when it's not your signature work....have no attachment to my other stuff even that which I like, as it is all basic bowl/cup/plate/vase forms etc glazed in glazes made from published recipies.....ie, stuff from other potters who were HAPPY to share their process openly....I don't scam others since I don't like it myself

 

Chris, thanks for the kind words, from you it's high praise!

 

Mea, you're a woman of my own heart...my thoughts too!..... no means no just about anywhere.....

 

Tyler, you're a man of good faith, though if after 2 definative 'no's she's still at it, I think goodwill is scarce....

 

John, my inspirations and influences were from the published works, techniques and recipies of Angelor Mellor (UK,Aust), Sandra Black (Aust), Sasha Wardell, Jeroen Brechtold, Fred Gatley, Francois Ruegg, Walter Sturmer, Patty Wouters, Remigyus Sederevicius.....and many others of the same ilk....not from their studio benches without their consent...

 

...and yes, have thought to blow up her space, poison the slip batch, break the results, make copies of her signature work.....etc, etc in times of pique.....one day yet, never know...???

 

 

(VERY sorry for no photos, can't work out the 'images extension' part of the software yet! wants urls not jpeg)

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Is there any way for you to arrange to be there when she is not, or is the studio on set hours??

 

I've been trying to think of another solution for you, but in the end ... nothing but get your own studio space.

Sadly, you probably do not have the money to hire a lawyer to legally register your process or to sue to stop her ... it would take years anyhow and by then the lawyer would be richer and you would have moved on. If you do have the money for lawyers, use it to get out of there instead.

 

You have to make sure this conflict does not suck the joy out of your work and your studio time. I cannot think of anything worse than having to skulk about trying to hide what you are doing. :ph34r:

 

It takes too much energy to feed a conflict.

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You have to make sure this conflict does not suck the joy out of your work and your studio time.

 

 

Definitely: I read this quote (below) in my newspaper yesterday, never thought I'd want to reproduce it quite so soon.

 

 

What wisdom do I have that I allow someone else's ignorance to take away my peace of mind?

Karen B likes this

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How about "sharing" your info but make it all incorrect thereby sending them on a big huge waste of time failure!

I cannot see how that would improve the studio sharing situation.

 

 

Agreed.  Such a tactic reminds me of the other topic about the "Black Clay Mix".  Except in this case, there would be no question that information was misleading.

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I think it might be helpful to realize that this topic is difficult to manage, but not unique. "Takers" are everywhere, whether that's in your family, your work place, your neighborhood, or your studio. This is a pretty well documented phenomena in psychology literature (see a simpler discussion at :http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2014/04/how-avoid-hiring-selfish-people/82192/ and you can follow the topic from there). Basically, most people fall somewhere on this bell curve:

givertakergrabjpg0802.jpg from Mark Goulston MD, 2011

 

People are not very good always at self-identifying how they act either. (It doesn't help that individuals are generally situation-specific, so there might be times/situations where you find yourself responding in ways not consistent with your "usual" habits.)

 

Anyhoo, I take the situation outlined at face value: you have a studio work space with two different kinds of collaborators. Mudslinger is either a giver or reciprocater, while the interior designer/potter is a taker/grabber. Some of the features of a taker are exactly that they look to others to serve their personal goals, while guarding their time and expertise themselves. It's all about them, and not about you. Although I understand that all situations have many perspectives, I think it's valuable for you to think this through from your perspective, MS.

 

Some key things to consider:

1. Givers get ahead most of the time: although there is a risk of becoming demoralized and running out of energy, givers powerfully move the world forward because they are the best kind of collaborators. Setting boundaries (as you have), and deciding carefully if there is any kind of win/win exchange (as others have suggested) are strong positions for you personally.

2. If you are feeling drained dry by the negative pressure and energy of being around a taker (and no surprise, either), that's when you need to make a decision about your studio space. Part of this psychological profile is that takers make other people feel drained, angry, depressed and violated. Same with shoplifters, liars, and that a**hole who keeps on stealing your studio tools. Protect your stuff, don't feel bad about holding on to precious recipes that you've worked hard at, and give when giving doesn't kick you in the teeth. You are in the studio to work, not to deal with someone else's blob of personal gunk. Music, smells, walls, and locks are your friend: use them when you need to. If you truly can't escape, then you need another space.

3. Although some are joking about revenge, your karma thanks you for resisting. Don't become more of the person you don't want to be. Shake yourself like a dog leaving cold water, and do what you need to do. Protect yourself, give what is consistent with you as a person, find a peaceful place, and get to work. Life is too short for this s*it.

 

There isn't a business situation that I have ever been exposed to that hasn't had to deal with this. In the community studio I work in, one taker can really profoundly change the environment. (I've only lost $250... in tools so far because I didn't take this issue seriously. Yikes.) I use it as an excuse to buy more stuff when I can, and hope, respectfully, that it all catches up to them, somehow. If I spend any more time thinking about it, then I'm just doing what they want me to do: think about them.

Karen B, Babs, S. Dean and 1 other like this

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