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.

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.

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.

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 🙂

0 thoughts on “About Copy-cats : Theme VS Style

  • March 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Great theme, eloquent style!
    Now give me their names and I'll go and tell Putin they're Ukrainist revolutionaries 🙂

  • March 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Copycats surely make their own bad karma, theft is theft and every human knows its immoral and wrong.

    I don't make my living from my creations as you do but nevertheless my work is all my own. I see my designs copied all the time and the copycats don't even have the grace to change the colours.

  • March 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Very well explanation, and speaking out of the heart by every creative soul. Being copied by a crafter mostly feels not nice, but if your mood allows, you can see it as a compliment for your work. Being copied by an entrepreneur might make angry. And being copied by a big company can raise existential fears. We've learned from experiences (and we're sure you have): Design can be copied, good taste never! So, keep calm and carry on, your genuine ideas bring you too sustainable success.

  • March 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I have to agree with Inger Maaike. It is so painful to work so hard creating new ideas and doing all the work only to have them "knocked off" barely the moment you publish them. Then……….to make it all worse, the "perpetrator" has the gall to price their work (copied from your work) to undercut yours. Must carry on, however, and feed one's own creative soul.

  • March 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I believe it doesn't matter much if you sell or not your work. Copying is the same and it hurts as much.
    Sorry to read your things are being copied as well :/

  • March 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I had read that idiotic comment on Instagram too…but didn't reply because of sausage fingers on small phone is not a good match 😉 Person who left it either is not creative or is a copycat him/herself!

  • March 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Surtout qu'en plus, souvent ils ne se gênent pas pour les vendre moins chers. Heureusement, parfois, la qualité n'y est pas…

  • March 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Stephanie, so nicely put. I've been dealing with the same issue (again) just in the last couple of weeks and was thinking of doing a blog post as well. I am not sure I could have said it so well as you. It is funny how 'everyone else is doing it' is such a common response, and we are made to feel horrible for defending our own work. Honestly, this should be compulsory reading for anyone that opens an Etsy shop or picks up a pair of scissors etc..

  • March 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you for this post Stephanie. I agree wholeheartedly. Inspiration can be sought from many artisans/places, but to copy someone's work is inconsiderate and wrong. Anyone that imagines/designs/creates and then spends the time to photograph their work knows how much time goes into each aspect of the process; sometimes months are spent on perfecting a certain item. I have just recently dealt with a similar issue in two different circumstances so I completely feel for you and all of the posters here who have had to go through the same thing.

  • March 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    "wrong doesn't cease being wrong because the majority agree…"

    I think it is sad that so many are of the opinion that , since "everyone is doing it", it is ok. I have seen scale miniature crafters totally copy another's theme AND style, call it their own ("oh, I've been doing this for years!!" NOT!!) and, through a strong personality, lies and a good ad campaign to steal the customer base, absolutely steamroll the original artist almost to oblivion… certainly to tears. …sigh…

    Oddly, those of us who speak out are chastised for doing so. And so it continues.

  • March 4, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Lighten up. All these copycat rants by artists online are bringing a negative tone to the concept of creativity and true artistry. I've read a number of pieces about this around the internet and it's getting a little ridiculous. And how shameful of those artists who advocate that photos of "original" and "copycat" works should be posted side by side on places like Facebook for the purpose of calling out and humiliating the alleged "copier"! How does anyone know with absolutely certainty who had an original idea first? If it is proven beyond any doubt that an individual person habitually steals designs and calls them their own and profits from it or that a company is intentionally stealing the works of designers, that's one thing. But posting a person's name and work online and openly accusing him or her of being a thief could forever damage their reputation, when they in fact innocently happened to make a similar piece or actually had the original idea first. It's very dangerous territory! The truth of the matter is that once you willingly display your work online, (or sell in retail stores), and especially if you reveal some of your techniques, there is the potential of someone copying your designs, whether simply because they admire your work or because they are thieves with no original ideas of their own. No, it's not right for anyone to steal a design, but in the entire universe of billions of human beings, if one or two people happen to copy one or two pieces of your work, it should not be that big a deal. There are far greater and more serious things to worry about in your life and this world. Just take pleasure in your work, create wonderful things, be true to yourself, and lighten up.

  • March 4, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I wonder : did you even read the article I wrote?
    Because you seem to confuse theme and style.

    And I'm perfectly happy in my life, thank you very much, no need to lighten up. Just because I openly give my opinion without accusing anyone specifically, doesn't mean I'm depressed or raging in my life.

  • March 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

    yup, just happened here too.
    As if saying "copying is bad" would be an offense to copy-cats who then feel the need to openly put us down.

  • March 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I so agree with you, Stephanie. You do amazing work and I hate to see someone copy it and try to sell it, which adds insult to injury, I think. Last summer I was at a party where I encountered an artist who had previously seen my work online and admitted that she tried (and failed, thankfully) to copy what I was doing. It felt like my heart stopped for a moment when she told me.

  • March 5, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Yes, Stephanie, I read your post and had you paid attention, you would understand that my comments are directed toward the community in general of those artists who are escalating this issue into something bigger than it should be. I've read a great deal about this recently and am appalled by those who are advocating "revenge" sort of tactics, so I think anytime this topic comes up, even when the writer is not trying to instigate, it just makes the issue more public and can therefore, incite artists to be unnecessarily upset or concerned about potential theft of their work. I know the point you are trying to make about theme vs. style, but again, it's a slippery-slope because who really can claim absolute originality in terms of style? Do you know, beyond any doubt, that your jewelry or anything you make is the first, one and only of its kind? No, there's no way for you to know that, particularly in a world of billions of people and so many online artists today. And I wrote nothing about you being depressed or "raging" – I merely suggest that you or ANY artist concentrate more on the pleasure and personal satisfaction of the work and a little less on the unlikely chance that someone will copy another's work and greatly profit from it. We can all learn from others' wisdom and experiences and so, yes, sometimes we all need to lighten up. 🙂

  • March 5, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I know for sure I've been copied in this case, since the copy-cat apologized and removed the copied items (yes itemS there were severals).
    And it happened before and every time I kindly ask to remove the items, the copy-cats do it and apologize for it (unless they steal my pictures and then they're just insulting).

    So I'm not sure in what world you live, but in my world, many copy-cats don't realize that what they do is illegal.

    And since I rarely rant or rage or even concentrate on those things, you just cannot tell me to "lighten up". You are judging my behavior on 1 only post.

    I'm a the most cheerful person you might encounter, and I rarely complain. But this issue is not a new one, it happened to me several times in the past and it will happen again and I believe it is important to explain why it's a problem and what I mean by copying. Because no, I don't believe you can improve this world by only focusing on what's positive in your life and never openly saying what's wrong in this world.

  • March 6, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Stephanie, perhaps it's the language barrier that is preventing you from properly interpreting my post. But in the interest of continuing this dialogue: I have adequately covered all the bases in explaining how and why some artists' work might be copied. Someone may copy because they simply admire your work OR because they think if it's online, that it's essentially public domain and therefore, "free" for the taking, so to speak. There will always be that small percentage who do know it's illegal/unethical – and do it anyway. And then there could be someone who lives across the globe and has basically the same style and design ideas that you have and the two of you may never know about each other – so who is to say who had the idea first and who's to say which was indeed the original? My work is very, very unusual and I refer to it as one of a kind/original, but you know what – I would never be arrogant to suggest or believe that I am the ONLY person on this planet with the exact ideas, themes, and style. I'd like to think I am 🙂 but how would I ever really know? Now, if you've caught someone copying your work, ok, as I said, it can happen and you've apparently dealt with it. And there could be others copying your work – or there may be none. I just wonder at what point artists are going to realize that once they put their works out there online for a global audience, they then subject themselves to potential thievery of their work. This is something I myself grappled with about going online, but you have to make your own choices. I am not trying to suggest that copy-cat art is not a problem to some degree, but I just don't happen to think it's that big a deal for artists to be writing about it all over the internet and they certainly should not be suggesting the people be publicly humiliated for copying, when in truth those people may be totally innocent. Frankly, and I think this is worth noting: If artists are going to be concerned about potential theft and lack of respect for their original work, how about directing some attention to the disgrace of Pinterest where people are distributing photos WITHOUT proper credit? Shame on anyone who supports Pinterest! And how about those who somewhat demean the true artistry of miniatures by giving away free online "tutorials" that give the impression to the general public that making minis is a "quick and easy craft" that any dimwit with some polymer clay can do in just a couple of minutes?! So perhaps more attention should be given those two problems which affect the entire community as a whole.

    As for improving the world, if you go back and read my first comment, I clearly stated that there are many more serious things to be concerned about in this world and I advocate that people work for betterment in every way possible. Regarding the "lighten up" comment, Stephanie, it was a general statement, intended to impart some wisdom I have learned over the years.

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Sure of course it can happen that without copying two artists will create similar work.

    I don't really disagree with you, it's just that the post I wrote is meant for people who do not realize what they're doing by copying.
    That's why I think it's important to continue writing this kind of post, not accusing anyone publicly, but rather explaining what one should not do.

    Most people who copy are in fact kids or teens who do not have a clue.

    Of course, it's not that big of a problem, but so what? just because it's a small problem doesn't mean not writing about it makes more sense either.

    And yes of course exposing your work to the world will make it prone to be copied, but it'll also help you to get known and I would certainly not be here, would it not be for the sharing on the internet, the tutorials I've done (free and paid) and pinterest.

    The issue is not the internet, nor pinterest, nor free tutorials.
    The issue are the people not crediting.
    So writing about it does help. Even if just a little.

  • March 7, 2014 at 4:53 am

    I know Stephanie. It's just that once I read your post, I took the opportunity to address the broader aspects of this issue and didn't intend to come across as argumentative, but rather informative. So let's agree that we sorta, kinda agree. 🙂 However, just want to add that part of the issue is indeed the internet and sites like Pinterest because these are the venues through which proper credit is not being given. As interesting as Pinterest is, it's so out of control that there's no way to undo what's been done there with the lack of credit. So many artists' works have been distributed with no mention of the origin. The best way to stop that kind of thing is to NOT support it. But amazingly, even artists, who know they have not received fair attribution, still promote and keep Pinterest popular.

    Have a good day!


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