Friday, April 11, 2014

Inspiration vs. "Inspiration"

Whenever someone pins one of my designs to a Pinterest board that they've titled, "To Make" or "DIY", I have to ask myself the following question:

Where does one draw the line between inspiration, imitation, and straight-up copy-catting someone else's design?

Copy-cats!

This bothers me perhaps more than it should. After all, I hoard tutorial pins, but rarely do I actually make something from a Pinterest tutorial; therefore, I reckon it's not likely that they'll actually go and copy my design. Re-pins onto "inspiration" boards, however, don't bother me, and I'm actually flattered by them. Why the difference? Because, to me, inspiration is when I look at a piece and think, "I like that technique/color/component/style, but I would make it like this instead of that", and the two pieces wind up looking nothing alike. "To Make" or "DIY" boards, on the other hand, are like walking up to me and saying, "What you make is so simple that anyone can easily do this. Your work is not special." It's a slap in the face, basically. Like I said, I may just be overly sensitive to this. I've tried looking at it in a complimentary fashion - "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" - but nothing doing. At best, I'm trying to let go of the negativity, but I'm finding it difficult.

I got started on making jewelry because I saw a necklace I liked but couldn't afford; I could, however, afford a kit to make something similar. Is that any different than people hypothetically making knock-offs of my designs? I would argue that, yes, it is different, because I didn't reverse-engineer the original necklace design to make my own; I went out and paid for instructions and materials to make something in a similar style, but it was an entirely different necklace. This one reason why I've been seriously considering making tutorials for some of my more popular designs - people are going to make it (or imply that they'll make it) regardless of my feelings on the subject, so I might as well let go of my artistic ego and maybe make a buck off of a tutorial, or maybe a couple bucks off of a kit with instructions, or just offer the tutorial for free to get my name out there. I believe there is a phrase for my current thoughts on offering tutorials: paralysis by analysis.

While we're on the topic of imitation and "inspired by", I just want to briefly put my opinion out there on the subject of "Inspired by the Harry Potter/Hunger Games/Twilight movie(s)" or "Disney-inspired mouse logo that looks suspiciously/exactly like Mickey Mouse" or "J.Crew-inspired bubble necklaces". Many of those are not "inspired by"; they are blatant rip-offs and I wish people would stop making and/or buying them because they are diluting the meaning of "inspiration". Also, because they're blatant rip-offs. There, I said it.

To wrap this post up, I'm trying to keep in mind my own background experiences, as well as Lady Karma, when dealing with overzealous DIY pinners. Writing this post, at least, has helped me get some of these feelings off my chest, and that helps immensely. I'll try to keep the rants to a minimum in the future, but there were some things in here that needed to be said, haha. :)

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