Mel Jacobsen tells a very instructive story about "originality":
He was apprenticed in Japan. As the "American" he was looked at as the "creative one" amongst the apprentices. His sensei challenged him to come up with a new form. Most every night after he had completed the studio work he was doing for his senesi... he worked at coming up with a good original form. He would leave the piece on his sensei's shelves. The next day on his shelves would be a book opened to a picture of the form. This went on for about a year.
One assignment I use in my advanced BFA throwing course is a "copy the masters" assignment. I give the students a series of choices of a piece to recreate. (I do some specific editing as to who gets which choices.) These are to look like "3 dimentional Xerox copies". Finish fired... to match (brings in the full spectruim of the ceramic process learning). This assognment is intended to develop the EYE, and to develop handling skills. They never fully succeed........ and I don't really expect them to. It is the pursuit that is important... not who "wins". Nothing wrong with copying..... if it is done in the appropriate context for the appropriate reasons. (Pieces are signed as "copies".)
So next we get to "traditional" ceramic work.
Master and apprentice. The apprentice spends (typically) something like 7 years working to make the master's pots. By the time they become independent, the work they produce looks basically identical to the master's. In a lot of cultures, this skill anmd trained eye is greatly applauded. The passing on of a tradition.
When your work stops loooking like other's pieces and look like yours... you've matured as an artist (not necessarily as a craftsperson). When you have amassed the technical and handling skills to flawlessly (most of the time) execute your ideas...... you've also matured as a craftsperson.
When you put the two togetehr.... you probably actually know what you are doing.
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art
Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China
Former President and Past President; Potters Council