Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inspiration or theft?

The cynics claim that everything has already been made at least once. There are no truly new designs and so all of us somehow copy each other. I’m not sure that is the case, but fact is, that we of cause are influenced by many things in our surroundings and work from there. Quite often we see something and go “hmmm… great idea, but if I were to make this I would have….” Now, if you venture into that version of designing –are you a thief or do you actually create something new?
These are the thoughts I have battled as I worked on my newest pair of earrings. I saw this gorgeous pair by the very talented jewelry designer Hikarujewels (I don’t know her real name, but that is the name of her shop at Etsy)

See how gracefully the chains somehow make the wings move? I loved the idea, but wanted to make it even more fairytalish with curls (of cause) and more stones. So I created these:

As you can see, those two pairs are quite close.  Sure the wings have a different design, chains are placed a tad differently and there are way more stones, but still –basically my earrings are the same as Hikarus. So am I a copy cat or do I just humbly honor Hikaru by elaboration on her design?


  1. unfortunately, I think overall the design is the same....but honestly, I like yours better! :-) its the curls...

  2. Lisbeth:
    Have to agree with the above comment. However, I can't quite figure out how to wear them?

  3. Well, for now they are still listed in my Etsy shop, where I also have posted a picture of how they look "on" (they have a stud on the backside). If Hikaru puts down a veto, I'll remove them of cause.

    I have been thinking a bit more. I like those earrings and if you look at what else I create, they look very much like something I might have come up with without inspiration from somewhere else. Hikaru so to say beat me to it -bummer. However, in spite of taking the basic concept from her brilliant design, I still consider these to be mine too and love them for their own sake.

    This is the first time that I have been so obviously and consciously inspired by the work of someone else. Mostly whatever I create grows from inside myself, though probably inspired by for instance some Art Nouveau buildings or a detail I saw somewhere long forgotten. I don't claim to inventing the deep dish every time I create a piece, but I do claim to create my own unique version, even if there is something similar in the world already -knowingly or unknowingly.

  4. Ok so I posted this big thing earlier and stupid blogger ate it, but I really wanted you to hear it so I'm writing again. If it eats it this time I give up!

    There is no such thing as an original design in jewelry making. Just because you've never seen it doesn't mean it's not been done, just means you haven't seen it yet.

    But the thing is, when you're making something handmade it's IMPOSSIBLE to truly copy someone else's design. I can't even copy myself, let alone anyone else.

    Your earrings shares elements and the inspiration with hers, no doubt. But the overall feel is very different. I'd never wear hers and would shank a sistah for yours.

    I don't think there's a single thing wrong with that. What about cuff bracelets? Would anyone in their right mind say CG is ripping off designs because other people make cuffs? Or stud earrings, or hoops, or a thousand other designs that we all try our hand at.

    No, of course not. Every artist stamps their work with their own vision and that's the way it should be, imho anyway.

  5. Clarity!
    That is exactly what I feel like!
    Oh thank you for putting it out so straight
    Thank you, thank you!!!!

  6. Fellow Blogger RosyRevolver posted about this very same thing, that someone else was copying her work and selling it on Etsy. I struggle with this topic too, as I get tonnes of ideas and inspiration from many others out there.

    I would just go ahead with selling them and see what happens. I love yours more too...I like the curls.

  7. I'm glad this was resolved positively. And you know, looking at them again I see more differences. they are both nice earrings, and I totally think they fit in with your work.

    Maybe this has helped clarify some things about your work to yourself. Sometimes controversy helps!

  8. You are right Chris, it WAS solved positively, when the artist answered my convo, saying that she was glad her piece inspired me to do my own version.
    She wrote, that if she had seen my piece without my notice, she would never have thought about that it was her breeze earrings that had inspired me. Mine is a totally different taste and so she didn't consider it to be a copy at all.
    I'm relieved and very happy :-)

  9. Hey I had to share my own rip-off of another artist's work :D Not really, b/c again it's a totally different piece, but I most certainly got the idea from someone else.

    Here's hers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36638206@N04/4379465303/in/pool-aspiringmetalsmiths

    And here's mine:

    I hope she's as nice as yours was!