Inspiration or Otherwise

Posted On April 27, 2007

Filed under Ramblings

Comments Dropped 2 responses

I’ve had an idea for this entry for some time now, but just never formed my thoughts around it enough to write it. Reading Junk2Jewels this morning, I took it as a sign to dive in, regardless.

I’m struggling to get a handle on what’s inspiration for the things I make and what crosses the line into imitation.¬† I love looking at clothing and crafts and trying to figure out “how’d they do that?” I’ll see a detail or a fabric combination and want to try it myself. I make and sell tutus, having gotten into the venture after buying one for my daughter and realizing “I can do that.”

There are hundreds of “boutique designers” on the Internet, offering wares that look similar to other things I’ve seen, whether its jewelry or purses or clothing or even tutus. I’ll admit that I often see things I like and use elements in clothes I make for my daughter, whether it’s a fabric or a style or an embellishment.

Where do you draw the line, though? What’s “inspiration” and what’s “imitation”? Are there rules for sewing and crafting like there are for writing, where plagiarism will tarnish your reputation forever? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this.


2 Responses to “Inspiration or Otherwise”

  1. Angelina

    I’ve thought a lot about this too because I think there is a somewhat tense atmosphere in commerce concerning our ownership of our creations. In my opinion there is nothing out there that hasn’t been based on something else out there. Your skill as an artist, writer, or craftsperson, is in your ability to take the elements that you like out there in other people’s work and turn it into something new.

    I think the difficult thing is that for every craft or art there are different parameters to think about. With something like a fabric flower pin you can change the entire design of it just by your choices in fabrics and colors. Size, sewing method, and shape are all things that can be shifted slightly to change the character of the design. In order for it to not be a complete copy you have to be bringing that item to a new place. Which is highly subjective.

    Can you tell how much I’ve thought about this? It’s such a complicated question. I tend to think in terms of copy write infringement in art: you can use elements from other work as long as it is at least 25% changed.

    I don’t think people can or should “own” ideas. We’re all building on every idea that has already been thought up. Our merit as designers or crafters is in how much we can use the old ideas to make something fresh.

  2. Beebee Mod

    Imitation can be frustrating I am finding out. What’s the saying “Imitation is the nicest form of flattery?” SO I am looking at it like that and not getting annoyed with it. Everybody has their own style and perspective and I think it shows in work. So clearly people can use an animal or idea and put their spin on it.
    …….And, thank you sooooooooo much for the fabric scraps. Got them yesterday and I am already in the creating mode and I will show it on my blog tomorrow. I am trying to think of what to send you and have some ideas, so stay tuned!

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