What a Rip Off! 3 Simple Ways To Know if You're Copying Another Artist

It used to not bug me when I saw original artwork pinned to Pinterest boards named DIY or I Can Totally Do That or the like.  The reason it didn't bother me is because when I pinned these things on to my DIY board (I'll admit it, I did) I wasn't intending on flat out copying the original creator.  Often the pin was there to remind me that I liked that style, or it was there as a part of a group of things I'd pinned that were inspiring, or IT WAS AN ACTUAL DIY POST.  I didn't pin them there to turn around & say look what I made, it looks EXACTLY LIKE THE THING I PINNED HERE TOTALLY MADE BY ANOTHER ARTIST.

I've been seeing a lot of these Pinned It, Made It blog features around.  I love when people tell me that a tutorial worked or that they failed miserably at it.  I despise it when people say here's an artist's work I totally ripped off because that's just not nice.  I whole heartedly agree that it's fine to be inspired by others work & to create your own take on it but if you're finished product looks like something way too similar you need to reevaluate sweetheart.

So I've put together 3 ways you can know - a check list if you will - if you're flat our ripping off an artist

If the thing you are making requires you to come up with your own thought make sure it's your own thought.  There's no worry in coming up with something that looks nearly the same to get the idea down........but then go further, be original & make it your own.  If you're the one coming up with the instructions then you get to be as creative as you wish.  We can learn by copying, but that's not your original idea & you shouldn't take credit for DIYing something that someone already made & didn't tell you how to make.

This may be a bit tricky.  In art school we often copied other works to get the hang of working with a new technique.  It could have been exploring new styles by making something similar to an artist's work existing work or learning a friends trusted technique.  If you're learning & want to share your process go ahead and tell us how you learned to do something or how you are learning to do something.  Say you really want to do more with your watercolor paintings so you begin to mimic the style of another artist you love.  Sharing with us that you learn by experimenting & showing us an example of something you were trying to replicate means your going farther than copying & that you're actually being creative with another technique.  Now if you flat out copy the paintings & begin selling them as your own, we've got a problem. This is what I mean when I say exercise vs. profit.  And, personally, I consider it for profit if you're posting your work just so others can see you made something exactly like someone else's work....you're promoting yourself & not the artist & not your growth as an artist.....you're not promoting your honesty I guess is what I'm getting at.  It's like your turning around & promoting your work over the original.

If you even consider asking yourself this or the answer is yes then you're ripping them off.  Even if the colors are different, proportions have changed, etc....if it still looks nearly exactly the same, you're ripping someone off.  Second part of this question: If the answer is yes, should I go around telling everyone that I ripped off this person & that I DIY'd something that the artist will not get credit for nor receive compensation for coming up with the design? The answer to that, personally, is no.  If you're going to rip someone off, please do it in secret.  For Pete's sake, don't copy in the first place but don't put you're credibility on the line by bragging about your copying

There is a difference between inspiration & copying.  If you're inspired by something you've created something with your own take, added originality to it, & it doesn't look exactly the same as (or like a composite of) original works.  If you're copying something, you've created an end product that is eerily similar to one that already exists & may even cause others to recognize it as being similar to someone else's work.

It has just been frustrating me lately that others have been taking the credit for creating something awesome when they themselves did not come up with the design.  These things that have bugged me have the eerily similar (if not just flat out exactly the same) property.  Please, just don't copy!

This is why I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  It is great to gather ideas & use responsibly....but there are others out there, probably meaning well, who don't understand that copying undervalues the original work.  I'd love to know how you feel about this & if it's something that bugs you too!  

Have you encountered this Pinned it, Made it phenomenon?  How did it rub you?  Were you offended?

If you'd like to read more on this sort of topic, here's are a few articles that cover it:

disclaimer: I, myself, have made soooooo many things it's hard to keep track.  However, if I have ever outright copied someone/something before & mentioned it, it was before I gained an understanding of the offensive nature of copying original works.  Becoming more & more involved in a creative field as an artist & less as just a crafter has made me  better understand the difference between inspiration & stealing and the importance of quality of character, honesty, & success.  So though I am confident I've never flat out stolen an idea, I fear I may have created something with the eerily similar property I discussed above.

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  1. This is an interesting one.... I'll admit, in the first few months of blogging, I probably did more "copying" and recreating of tutorials than I should have. However, as I'm growing as a blogger, here are the guidelines I try to follow when it comes to doing a project found on or inspired by another blogger:

    -Always give credit where credit is due. If I was inspired by three different tutorials, I share links to them all right at the beginning of my post. And I usually leave a comment on those blogs thanking them for their inspiration.
    -I always try to make a project my own and not create a direct copy. Use those creative juices.
    -I don't write up a full tutorial for a project unless there isn't one out there already or unless I made significant changes that worked well.

    I'll admit, it's frustrating because I feel like I get so inspired by Pinterest, yet struggle to feel like any projects are "original" anymore. "There's nothing new under the sun, right?"

    I think it's okay to find inspiration and take it and run with it. There is creativity there. Because if you're trying to make every single project an original, you'll exhaust yourself fast...and perhaps feel at a loss.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about this, though. I think you hit on some important points!

    (Love your blog design, b.t.w. Was really drawn in by it!)

    The Thinking Closet

  2. Thank you so much for the guidelines you shared! I love your sentence about finding inspiration & running with it. That meas you are using your own creative juices to get the ball rolling. Everything has been done before, I agree...it's just important to give credit & be creative.

    Thank you so much for your input on this topic :)


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