Copycat? or Flattery?
Does this title sound a bit confusing? I'll try to explain... This is a topic that I think of often. It's likely a classical problem that has been argued and talked of in many places and in many forms. But today I'm going to say how I see it and how it applies to my little corner of the world. The reason I'm thinking of it now is because of this quilt I just finished.
About a month ago, I stumbled across Leslie's (onegirl) blog. I had seen her cute little oobee's and sewn items before, but had somehow missed her quilts. So I found myself in love with her style of quilting. And, to make a long story short, that's what inspired my most recent quilt. Now, I would agree with you that really my quilt is quite different than hers. I used larger pieces, it's not as randomly pieced, she has more vintage fabrics, and a much scrappier look. But ultimately, that's what inspired me!
So then I have my classical little battle with feeling a bit dumb, like why can't I have my own original idea, and a specific style that's "all mine"? But wait! This is my whole point here: Where is the original inspiration for anything, anyways? If anyone thinks they've come up with a completely original idea that has never been thought of before... my question is: Is there such a thing? I'm not thinking of just quilts here, but I'll use it as my examples.
So how are we gonna find out who made the first quilt with strips. And once we've found him/her, are we going to give them (posthumously, since I'm sure it was many many years ago) a copyright on all quilts with vertical stripes? If you make a pattern with a variation of this style, you must give credit to Sally Smith who first had the brilliant idea to sew long pieces of fabric together? (Before you leave in a huff, I'm gonna bring out the other side yet :))
I've always loved Rossie's CopyLeftist Statement that she has on her blog and have read it quite a few times. I find it to be a refreshing viewpoint. Follow the link and scroll down till you see it on the right sidebar. And while you're at it feel free to look around. She always has interesting thoughts and quilts!
But back to my subject here: I really think that everyone, whether you're an artist or just a simple crafter like me, needs to acknowledge the fact that you are not an amazing phenomona that comes up with unique ideas that have NEVER been seen before, and that were not inspired by someone or something. (If you are inspired by nature, then you've found the True Source of all beauty)
One doesn't need to get all uptight about giving credit to hundreds of places in the fear of missing someone/something. Just the realization of this humbling fact is enough. And when you know what inspired you, don't hesitate to give credit, even if your piece isn't anything like what gave you the tiny seed on an idea.
There have been a few times where I've seen a thumbnail photo on Flickr, and I've had this instant little sick feeling, cause it looks so very much like something I made a month ago. And then I click on the photo, and find out they linked to my blog as inspiration for the quilt... and guess what! That absolutely makes my day!! Thanks so much if you've done this. And I'll try to do this as well.
Again, I'm not saying that you always have to do this. There are many times when I've made a quilt, and although I know it's been partially inspired by the beautiful work of others, I honestly have no idea of any specific source. And when someone makes something similar to what I've made, I must realize that I've unintentionally done the same thing many times. And who knows, maybe I'm just having a big head to think that they actually saw my work at all! They may have been inspired by something completely different and come out a similar place.
But I do not think that everything in life is one big free-for-all. I just read this blog post, and it was another part of the reason why all this has been whirling around in my head today. Even though I've said that there's no original idea, there is still such a thing as seeing someone else's work, realizing that it's lovely and that it might sell well, and blatantly taking that idea as your own. Grrrr.
Sometimes I think that just living above it and continuing on with new ideas is the best. But when it happens to me, I might not feel so benevolent about it... Ok, I know that my style rambles and jumps all over the place so it's not likely that this will happen to me, and if it does it will be unrecognizable, right?!
Ultimately, the only thing I can do at this point, is to realize that change begins with me. I will continue to be inspired by those around me, and I'll do my best to spread the love around to the talented designers around me.
Honestly, I've thought about this topic a lot, and I'm not sure I've covered everything that I've thought about, so I may add more yet sometime.
And I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Or send me links to other's thoughts on this subject.