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Imitation vs Inspiration

Before I carry on with my chosen topic this week I’d just like to say a massive thank you to the lovely Ruth Cartwright for choosing me for a Creative Corner interview which went out this week. (Pssst - there's a discount code mentioned in there too)

I had a brilliant idea of what to write for this weeks blog as I was lying in bed last night pondering the usual avalanche of thoughts that happen sometime between realising I’m tired enough to sleep and actual sleep. Of course I didn’t write it down because I was trying to sleep and I’ve forgotten what it was this morning! Yeah I know ... well done me.

One thought that has crossed my mind more in the past few days is the problem I’ve seen cropping up a few times with other crafty creative folk; other people copying your work.

I’m not going to go into the legalities of copyright and trademark because there’s an abundance of info on those out there already. I’m thinking more on the ethical view of what it means to outright copy someone else’s work.

Is imitation flattery?

In a word ‘No’. Not for me anyway. I’ve always found it irritating but I will tolerate it up to a point. For example, I’ve never really been what you’d call fashion conscious, preferring comfort over style although I do try to look presentable most days. Presentable, meaning it’s clean, and it fits. I also like to wear things that are a bit different and I will go through phases of hours of ebay scrolling when I get an idea of something in my head. I keep revisiting the idea of learning how to make my own clothes but for that I’d need a bigger house and at least another 24 hours in any given day. But the thought of making unique things makes me so happy, it’s definitely something I want to learn at some point.

I don’t go into anything without a great deal of thought beforehand so whatever it is I do, from choosing clothes, painting a room a different colour, or creating something, rest assured, more hours than you can imagine have gone into that decision for me. So yes, it’s infuriating for me to have spent all that time and energy to arrive at a point, then to have someone merely glance and decide they want to have that/make that too. (especially if it's clothes and they look better in them than I do!)

Inspiration is entirely different. So many things I see or read trigger a hundred different thoughts.

“Wow ... look at those colours. I’d love to photograph / paint that”

“That looks brilliant. I could never do anything like that.”

“What a great idea – I want to try that”

Inspiration is an amazing thing and without it would anyone ever do anything? No new inventions or ideas would happen without it and would artists and creatives even exist? Regardless of what you do, you don't get very far without practical knowledge and you don't get that unless you either practice, or learn from other sources.

I struggle wondering if there's a difference between passing on knowledge as a hobbyist or as a seller. I’ve learned a tonne of stuff since starting out in tree making and I’m happy to share some hints and tips such as what thickness of wire I use and where I get it (mainly 0.5mm and respectively in case you were wondering).

Purple and white miniature tree of life sculpture

I saw wire trees online long before I started making them. In fact when I started fiddling around with wirey things, I wanted to do wire wrapping but I was completely hopeless at it and gave up on that idea very quickly. So I thought I'd try making trees after watching some videos and reading some articles. I wasn't interested in doing the same as what I'd seen already - I wanted to see what I could come up with and so far (patting myself on the back) I think I've done ok.

Purple white and silver miniature tree of life sculpture

I have made my designs unique to me and I have a recognisable style. I’m at a comfortable stage with my knowledge and I'm back to being inspired with everything I want to create, instead of wondering if it would be possible. It’s a good place to be in. But as a professional artisan, maker and seller, will I be creating future competition by sharing some of what I know, or just helping out an inspired hobbyist?

Purple and copper miniature tree of life sculpture

Be inspired, but if your aim is to try and outright copy something then just don’t. That thing is already out there and all you’re going to do is irritate the original artist who spent a lot of time, money and energy creating their work. Use your imagination, be better, or be different. Be the person who gives someone else inspiration.

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