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Inspiration, Appropriation Or Downright Copying?

inspiration appropriation copying work

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#1 Mudslinger Ceramics

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:23 AM

Further to the questions in 'Studio' by Chris (Image Envy) and myself (copying)  was wondering how each of us thinks about the what/when/where/why of being inspired by someone else's work?  .....be it trying 'it' out,  ...make my own,  ...using 'some' of it ...or is it taboo?  

 

What do you think is ok?  ...pushing it?  ...too far?  Love to know your thoughts.

 

Irene


Mudslinger Ceramics :   www.mudslingerceramics.net

 

'Don't worry about your originality. You couldn't get rid of it even if you wanted to.

It will stick with you and show up for better or for worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.'

                                                                              - Robert Henri


#2 JBaymore

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 10:07 AM

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. :)

 

best,

 

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


John Baymore
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#3 Colby Charpentier

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:45 AM

The American ceramics industry especially considers heavy handed appropriation to be taboo. This stance is rather unhealthy in my opinion, and demands more attention to how pots compare to each other rather than how pots stand alone.

 

I would've loved to receive John's assignment during my undergrad. I work as a studio assistant now, and often have the job of making work to the specifications of the artist. This causes turmoil in my own studio practice, but in a very healthy way. One cannot make work with a clear conscience until working through these issues.

 

I'd like to put together a workshop on appropriation, starting off with some reproduction demos and moving on to dealing with issues of ownership. There are some big names out there today with work that often butts up against each other, and the artists have some pretty interesting takes on the various situations. These are issues that should be a lot more visible in undergrad programs though. There's not one answer, but it absolutely needs to be addressed.



#4 Chris Campbell

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:22 PM

I love Mel's story because it points out that 99.9% of the time potters are not doing anything original for anyone else to copy ... The only thing they are lacking is a solid background / knowledge of ceramic history.

We should all spend more time in museums ... to see forms made 6,000 years ago that we are all 'copying' today.

One of my favorite 'copying' stories was from a lady who made jewelry from the comic pages of her newspaper ... complaining someone was stealing her art ... Not one thought that she was stealing art from the comic page artists. She also used soda bottle caps with no thoughts about those artists. Weirdly enough it was all about her.

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#5 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:34 PM

I see a Potters Council Question of the week developing here.!

#6 Tyler Miller

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:20 PM

I view art as a sort of technology.  There are something like thirteen Hollywood movie stories out there.  All movies can be broken down into those thirteen, more or less.  For whatever reason, those are the stories that sell, there's a demand for them, they're what we need.  I'll bet there is just as remarkably small number of types of expression in all media.  Expression isn't really the name of the game.  Artists put too much weight on art as expression.  What art is really about is consolation of the soul, explaining the human condition to humanity.

 

Have you guys ever seen Lakota ledger drawings?  To my mind there's no purer example of what art is: narrative on whatever paper was available.  Not high art, necessary art.

 

Originality is a fetish of the western world.



#7 NewDominionBlues

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 03:36 PM

We should all spend more time in museums ... to see forms made 6,000 years ago that we are all 'copying' today.

 

I went to the Freer and Sackler museums yesterday to see Chigusa (a tea jar), and went to the Peacock Room (http://www.asia.si.e...peacockroom.asp).  The biggest thing I took from the room was that the forms did not look that different than what I see coming out of the kilns at the studio where I take classes.  There are no new forms.  Just reinterpretations, "inventions" using common assumptions about what forms and relationships are pleasing to the eye...



#8 Chris Campbell

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 01:24 PM

Yes ... they could also have had an 'avant guarde ' art scene but the archeologists thought it was just rubble and tossed aside.

Chris Campbell
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#9 bciskepottery

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:57 PM

I went to the Freer and Sackler museums yesterday to see Chigusa (a tea jar), and went to the Peacock Room (http://www.asia.si.e...peacockroom.asp).  The biggest thing I took from the room was that the forms did not look that different than what I see coming out of the kilns at the studio where I take classes.  There are no new forms.  Just reinterpretations, "inventions" using common assumptions about what forms and relationships are pleasing to the eye...


Chigusa is a most fascinating story . . . so much from a simple jar that held tea leaves. If you can't see it in person, check it out on-line. http://www.asia.si.e...ent/chigusa.asp

#10 Stephen

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 01:53 PM

I saw a blog post a few years ago where a potter (a fairly well known one I think) published a nasty letter she sent to another potter for making a several thousand year old Japanese form she has adopted as her signature look. This artist claimed she was so upset at being so disrespected and blatantly copied that she could not sleep the night before sending the letter and was physically ill. She honestly felt that because she was popular for making a form that not many potters make that she could legally exclude another potter from making and selling it. 



#11 Natania

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 08:47 PM

I often try to isolate the reason I am drawn to an inspiring work. Is it the use of contrasting glazes? A detail, or maybe an unusual twist on a traditional form? Then once I think I've got the element that I am responding to, I try to think of a way to try out the same idea but in my own style using my repertoire of forms, colors and techniques. Or, I just enjoy the inspiring work without feeling like I have to try it myself. I love lots of salt and Woodford ware, but I don't have the facilities to do that right now, so I just enjoy the work I love and get generally inspired to go into the studio and do what I do, which is much much different!







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