Inspiration vs Imitation

After attending local craft markets for the past year or so, I’ve come to realise the main drawcard for my work is that people find it incredibly original and unique. Nearly every visitor to my stand says ‘well I’ve never seen anything like that before’. It’s a real thrill for me to hear that, and even if people don’t buy, I am more than happy to talk about my work, it’s inspiration, the materials and so on. I’m not usually much of a chatterbox, but get me in front of my jewelry and you can’t stop me 🙂

It got me thinking about where do we draw the line between inspiration and imitation?

I see a lot of imitation out there – online, in shops, at markets. I just don’t understand why people, so-called artisans, would copy and immitate. When I decided to start designing jewelry I would look at the work of other artists and think ‘I can make that’. So I’d buy up the materials and try to replicate a design I saw somewhere else. It left me feeling empty. There was no challenge, no creative expression – I was bored with that. Copying was not for me, and I am glad I had that experience early on because it really made a difference in how I approached my creative process.

I draw inspiration from many places and many things – including other designers. But for me, inspiration is simply something that sets off a new way of seeing materials or techniques, and I am then inspired to try something a little different and experiment some more. In a way it makes me braver to try something I hadn’t thought I could do.

But I don’t copy – I just don’t see the point. This is not to say that I won’t offer something in my supplies shop if I know the market demands it and it’s being sold successfully elsewhere. That’s good business sense, and as long as you don’t breach copyright, then you should be free to offer whatever your customers might want. In fact that’s why I started my supplies shop in the first place – I knew I could source many of the things this particular market demanded, at good prices, and I knew I would offer good service.

But for creative designs, I think it is different. I am incredibly flattered to know that people draw inspiration from my designs. To touch someone in that way and make a difference to their day is quite special. But I do feel sorry for someone if they think that all they can do is copy – maybe the bravery is missing?

And I suppose in the end, the thing with creativity is that if you have it, you are always inspired to make new things and try different ways of working. I believe true success comes from doing the things you really love, living with the passion and giving in to the creative urge. You can’t fake that 🙂



Think outside the square

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