Thursday, March 19, 2015

Again about plagiarism, copying and faking - it's in the blood of every artist

OK, so I found this truly inspiring book called "Steal like an artist". It is as if I read myself. I feel so connected to everything the author states, because I still wander around searching for a meaning of what I'm doing, I still feel ashamed that I didn't come up with something truly original yet, I still fear that everyone I inspire (or better said, "copy" from) would find me one day and sue me, put me on the ground for "stealing" their work. 
But this books really makes all this fear disappear. It's nothing wrong with copying, the author says, it's not similar to the plagiarism - in fact, "plagiarism" is only when you take someone else's work and pretend it to be yours. As for me, I always add links to the original work of art for my own creation. It's not like I didn't make it with my own hands, I just took someone else's idea and made my own (almost identical) version. And it's because I liked to make it, I liked the way it looked or I liked the colors. That means it was worth stealing!
One of the main ideas of the book is "only steal what you feel is worth stealing". That will help you define your style later. In fact, it's already written even in the Bible, the oldest book in the world: "Nothing new under the sun". Everything has been done before, everything has been said, but there wasn't anybody there to hear it and see it. That's why it needs to be said and done again. And again, and again. Just like in photography - you take people to photograph the same place, the same landscape, the same person, and each and every one of them will come up with something different. The images will be similar, but different in essence. (I'll insert here the link to a great documentary trailer about a famous photographer - The salt of the Earth). It's the same in art.
This book also helped me understand why I collect a lot of images and links and patterns and tutorials of things I like. Because it would take me more than two lives to make all of them, if I were to make them. I collect them because they inspire me. They create my style.
But I'll stop here. I haven't finished the book yet, but I already feel more released. It's great to know people empathize with you on this matter. I invite anyone to read this great book too. On one hand, maybe artists that already found their way and style will understand why other people copy their work, but in the same time maybe they'll admit to themselves that they aren't as original as they think they are. On the other hand, maybe it will encourage young artists like me to continue their works, even if they think it's not worth it, because it's not much originality in what they do. Originality will come, eventually.


  1. This article was written almost 4 years ago. Meanwhile, I've encountered a number of artists that are victim-posing when copied, while they would truly make a difference not by collecting negative attitude towards the phenomenon, but by simply promoting giving credit to the original idea maker!... I don't support stealing in any way, maybe that's why I get really frustrated when, for example, I'm denied to buy an original pattern for personal use from a crocheter that 1. doesn't publicly distribute patterns for their original creation; 2. doesn't send finished toys to my country and 3. is against using her ideas for imitation. It also breaks my heart when artists from different areas than crochet (for instance, polymer clay) don't allow imitation/inspiration from their original designs. I, personally, would love to see how a crochet toy appears to look like when painted, or made in polymer clay, or sewed. I would appreciate it even more when the respective artist credited me as the original designer of that shape, or asked for my opinion on his own piece of work. What do you think about this matter? Where should the boundary between original/inspiration/imitation start?

  2. I fear that my comment above might be misunderstood, so I'll bring some clarifications... I don't promote stealing patterns, nor imitating other people's patterns. I just try to promote finding a balance between "copy" and "inspire". That's what makes a difference between a real artist and a simple manufacturer...