About Copy-cats : Theme VS Style

Rainbow Corals Necklace, Stéphanie Kilgast
Rainbow Corals Necklace, Stéphanie Kilgast

Hi Folks,

A few days ago I was pointed in the direction of a copy of my work, more precisely a copy of my coral necklace. I openly ranted about it and got among other comments one like this :

it’s just another coral necklace, when someone copies x’s cupcakes, she doesn’t complain either

Big Mistake : confusing theme and style.

Theme
A theme would be “corals” or “cupcake”, “food”, “cats, “city”…
Many artists will work on cats, but everyone will express its view differently.
Namely, every artist has it’s own style.

Style
The style is personal to every artist.
It’s his own point of view of the world he sees. It’s how he feels, how he expresses himself. His way of working.
One artist might work with bright colors, or give hands a peculiar shape, the other compose in dynamic or static ways.
The style is in the choice of colors, composition, shape.

Copying / Being inspired
A copy will reproduce the style of an original artwork.
A copy will reproduce the same shape, colors and size of an original artwork.
It’s not just bad, it’s illegal. You can’t just copy someone’s else work, state you did it and sell it in your own name.
When an artist creates something original, the copyright belongs to him from the moment he creates it and until 70 years after his death it belongs to his descendants

An inspired piece will take the same theme and do something unique about it.
Something in the style of the artist who has been inspired by a piece of artwork.

In brief :
Copy = copying someone’s style
Inspiration = using the same theme but with your own expression

When is it OK to copy someone’s work?
It is OK in a learning process.
When I teach, the students will copy what I do, and that’s ok, it’s the first step to find your own style.
It’s OK to copy something for yourself.

BUT, if you share your copy, you have to credit the original.
And you cannot sell it.

But everyone’s doing it?!?
That doesn’t make it legal nor right. When copying you’re not just hurting the artist, you’re hurting yourself, you’re telling the world you are not able to create something true to yourself.

So.
Next time you like something one of your favorite artists does.
Don’t copy him/her without asking.
Don’t sell the copy.
Don’t be nasty about it either.

Thank you 🙂
Stéphanie

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