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“How do you view the topic of “copying”? What does it mean to you? I.E. – is it a concrete thing of an exact duplicate of your work, or do you consider design elements and style? Have you felt you have been copied by other artists? And, how do you deal with this?

I have a mixed emotion to this….
First, I will not point a finger and scream “copycat” under any circumstance. For a number of reasons. Mostly – unless the person has scribbled in the margins ” I copied this design from Andes Cruz (in a bad way) ” Then who am I to judge? I do not know that they did not arrive at the same place, from a different path, all by their lonesome.. just as I did. I haven’t been in this person’s head. I do not know their design history, and process. There is no definitive way to know if they copied. Or not. And in the world of Jewellery, it having been created for thousands of years already….having a truly “original” idea is exceptionally rare. To so something that simply has not been done before. Because you have not seen it, does not equate to it not existing before you. I think it’s a little pompous actually to think an idea is Original in jewellery.
Now that having been said…. There are many artists who have a very unique “style” or “voice”. And when I see their work, I am certain they created it…. It might not be that isn’t 100% Original. but a set of style elements that the person has identified with. Things that make their work theirs.
However. The world of art is getting smaller. There are exponentially more jewellery artists all the time. And, with the growth of the internet, and social networks, photo sharing, and online galleries and markets such as Etsy, or 1000Markets; our world is shrinking. Being influenced by others work is a fact. Seeing many more different styles and works than you would have when your reach was limited to galleries, and books…… This shrinking planet of art, makes in even more hard to have your own unique voice… and also to not find yourself influenced by others.
It’s a very fine line. But I think in the same regards that one could obsess about whether this person, and that person, and that one over there are copying them; I think we could drive ourselves nuts with examining our own creations, to be sure we weren’t copying another. Where does one draw the line? Do you not look at anyone else work? Not read trade magazine, and educational books? Not post photos of your own work? Guard it like the Hope Diamond?
Back to me.
I have never been knowing placed in the position of feeling as though someone has blatantly copied me. I know when I do think so (- even though I will try not to assume, and would never point a finger;) I know when the day comes, and I do feel like it’s overwhelmingly in favour of a copycat…it’s going to hurt. Hurt like hell.
Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery.
Copying is wrong. It isn’t flattering – beyond the VERY small point that someone thinks your design is good enough to steal.
I have a method for doing my best to stay out of harms’ way.
I don’t copyright every piece I do. But I do document it. and Photograph. But that’s not my Grand Plan.
And instead of focusing on the bad, I’m going to focus on telling you “how not to be copied”
I’m going to share it with you. Free. Take it and run. 😉
Here is what I recommend to all artists, young and old, jewellers, and non jewellers; to stay ahead of the would be copycat….
Focus on finding your own Voice. That which makes you unique. Your creative edge. The thing that makes the work Yours. Filter what inspires you thru your very own creative lenses, let it flow thru your hand, and become uniquely yours.
By doing so, you make it harder for a Copier to copy you. Because you do something unique. Maybe you blend techniques that aren’t usually. Or mix medias. Finding your voice is part 1 of the plan. Your voice is like your signature. replicating it can be done, but it takes a LOT more devotion and work to perfect it- because it only comes naturally to you, the creator. So be Unique. Don’t do what everyone else does. Don’t blend in. Step out.
Part 2: Keep it moving. Grow, change. Learn new skills, and techniques. It makes it hard to keep up. And the harder you make it to replicate your signature, the less likely someone is to do so.
Part 3: Hone your skills. Be the best you can. Then. go learn some more. Get better. Add new, and different skills. The key here is that The more advanced and varied your skill set is; the less likely that someone will be capable of copying you.
Part 4: repeat steps 1 thru 3. Again.
And my final thoughts on staying ahead of the curveball, and copying:
Finding your unique Voice will set you apart. So that you don’t fall into the sea of thousands of others whom your work might resemble. Trust that, when you create what really is within you, it transmutes within your works, and shines out to your audience. You will set yourself apart; and trust that this is good. There will be people who Love your work; specifically because it is unique, and different, and is a true piece of art within itself. It carries your essence in it. If you are uninspired in your creations, people will feel this. So find the place of inspiration, and make your creations Your Own. Find your Voice. And do it with the best skills you can execute, always. Don’t cut corners, or skimp on supplies. It doesn’t do you good, it hurts you. Do it right. The first time.
Copying hurts everyone. The Copier, and the Copied.
If you happen to be copying, remember you’re selling yourself short. First, you’re telling yourself and the world that you don’t think you have a single creative idea of your own worth sharing. That you aren’t an artist. The only outcome of copying is hurting yourself, and your success as an artist.
… So go out there and learn to sing, people!
I want to hear your VOICE.

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