13 May 2009

It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.

I just saw this post on a polymer clay blog and I thought it was interesting. Having gotten back from Artfest not to long ago and having more than one conversation on "theft".. what do you think??

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

- Jim Jarmusch"


  1. hmm.. interesting. I guess this is basically saying to feel free to be inspired, to take something and make it yours.

  2. You don't know how timely this post is for me. I just posted yesterday about losing my inspiration and that the most important thing to me is to be authentic.

    I think its fine to draw inspiration from someone’s work, but it's also a big No-No to COPY someone's work.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Remember Picasso-
    "Good artists copy. Great artists STEAL." and what he meant was that they make the ideas their own. It's all one big building block set that we're playing with...we're just arranging the blocks differently each time.

  4. You know this is nice to see. I get so frustrated when I hear or see people making a fuss over teaching, whether through workshops, online classes or books and then complain when students use what they learned, especially if that use generates a small income. (If we're being honest, no one's going to get rich here, let's face it and the small income they might make is hardly going to put anyone else in the poor house.)

    Teachers are being PAID for knowledge and technique and if you don't want to share those things, then I don't think you should be teaching. Teaching is about generousity of spirit-you teach because you want to inspire and you can't ask people to pay good money for that and then begrudge them using that knowledge. They also shouldn't put it up on the itnernet either-I mean if you don't want people seeing what you do and copying, the internets the last place you should be!

    The bottom line is that NO ONE can make your art but YOU. Even if people copy or imitate in some way, it's never going to be the same thing.

    Personally, I have stopped or avoid taking classes from teachers whom I know have a problem with this. God forbid I put myself in a place of being accused of "stealing" their ideas. I don't think they are aware how this affects how potential students think about them and how it ultimately does affect their income-and not in the way they were thinking. It's not the person copying that takes away from them-it's the way they handle it and how other people see them dealing with it that has the most direct and lasting impact.

    I know some people will read this and think I am wrong, but this is my personal opinion, having taught myself. The best teachers in my experience as a student are those who have been free and forthcoming with idea and inspiration and not threatened at all by their students taking what they learn and running with it. Teesha Moore is a fine example of that.

    I think some people hold the belief that there is a finite amount of success to be had and that if someone else has some, it means there's less for them. This is simply not true. It makes me sad that as women, we bitch and complain about success and getting ahead in the world and yet we fail to support one another out of fear of failure and jealousy. We're our own worst enemies. If we could just support one another, authentically, we'd be so powerful, we could hardly stand it!

    (Sorry, this is a hot button for me and I'll get off my soapbox now!)

  5. All these ladies have posted such great comments. I had to laugh at Kelly's. We had an art teacher in college that would get sooooo MAD when we would throw that Picasso quote at him. LOL. Yes, by all means, take something and make it YOUR own. I'm a firm believer that if you copy something enough, your own style should begin to emerge. What you "bring to the table" as they say, will begin to imprint upon what you are doing. You can never copy anyone verbatim, it always has your touch in it. Now, with all that being said, outright thieving and passing it off as yours, nu uh. Not right. And I have to disagree with part of his statement...I don't think originality is dead. It's just been stifled. One has only to look at this wide, blog world to see...it is most certainly not dead. For that matter, get out and look at shop displays, state gardens and parks, art museums...not dead at all. Just no longer being taught in school. And I think absolutely overwhelmed by so much technology. There...that's MY soapbox and I'll step down as well! LOL.

    yapping cat

  6. I completely agree with this. "Nothing is original" it has all been done before in some form.

    Lelainia many others do not agree with you I know, but I do. If you teach your students are PAYING you for your ideas they are not stealing them. If you feel that way you shouldn't teach. The only way art can continue to evolve and be enjoyed by all is by sharing. Sharing ideas, techniques, and inspiring others, encouraging one another. Take what inspires you and make it authentic but don't claim it as "yours and yours only" you are only fooling yourself. Jealousy and selfishness are not becoming to anyone.

  7. Ohmygoodness....this is something that I feel SO strongly about as an artist! Nothing....I mean NOTHING you can do is completely new....but what you put into it of yourself...THAT is what makes it your own and that is what makes it new from you. I love sharing what I do, how I do it and even sell my tutorials and know that even if you try to completely imitate the exact item, that it's still not my art, it's YOUR art.... I love sharing because it sparks creativity and if creativity spreads, it is simply wonderful! xxoo, Dawn

  8. this is a great post..This is how I gfeel about all this....I do know every thing around us was at one time thought up by some one... we all get inspired by each other. I think it is a personal thing. some like to create, share & give on the other hand others like to copy, take & hoard... it depends on who we are.. there are the givers in life & there are the thieves..I do think in the end it is what comes out of it.. I also feel because this community has become so hugh & is exposed by all the blogs & publishing being done,it opens the doors to many forms of the artists art being copied recreated etc..... once you put it out there be prepared to have your work copied. If you don't want it copied well then you have to keep it to yourself... who knows maybe you have touched that persons life in a positive way by inspiring her to do what you do.. maybe all most of us really want is to be noticed? Think about it. If you are true to your self just create give and move on... I have had issues where ideas/designs were taken from me and it ripped me apart but this was a learning experience for me. you either let it go move on to the next thing.. or become bitter and waist your time harping on it. Think about it. If you are true to your self & have good intentions, just create give to others and move on.. everything works out for the best in the end!!! xoxoo laura

  9. This was interesting. My true artistic love is doll making.
    I've been copied before, and I'm sure I will again.
    I just try to keep going forward. Re-working designs to improve and change. I see this as a never ending journey for me.
    I often draw inspiration from my own memories from childhood.
    That's mine, and always will be!


  10. Lelainia , I am standing clapping! you hit the NAIL right on the head! I agree with exactly everything you wrote!.. WOW .. amazing things said here LOVE it...

  11. From a very early age, I came to the conclusion that God was the source of any artistic abilities that were in me and that His creativity was flowing through me, much like water through a garden hose. That my access to His unlimited creativity was hindered only by my ability to connect to Him, the source of supply. He, being the creator of all creation and the aurthor of all originality, invites us to observe, dip or dive into His pool of living water. A never ending source, with unlimited benefits!

    I am writing these thoughts today for the first time, to explain why it has rarely bothered me to be copied. Afterall, it is His inspiration, His beauty and His knowledge,that moves through me and you. We did nothing to deserve it....it is simply His gift to those who will receive Him...a freely, flowing stream, from which anyone may drink. How silly would it be for us to drive a stake in the ground and post a sign saying, 'No drinking! Private Property!' Our attempt to control others will only rob us of personal joy and abundant opportunity!

    It is His creativity, moving through our God given indiviualality that makes us unique and one of a kind. I have looked around and 'borrowed inspiration' my whole life. Trying to imitate and re-create...not only art, but the lives of others! But through time and much prayer, I've come to understand that the authencity that an artist so desires, is attainable only when we accept our uniqueness and embrace His.