Oh NO! Someone’s Copied My Work!!!

I remember my first cover for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.  I wish I could say I was thrilled.  I was horrified.  I always imagined my first cover would be beautiful, elegant  and colorful.  I would be so proud of it.. Well…not even close.  It came from the step by step  in that issue, and later I found a number of people really liked those earrings and attempted making them.  Now I laugh and accept the cover…sometimes. They were simple cones, and I certainly don’t have a copyright on a cone.  Since then, Todd Reed has riffed on a cone design, and so has Phil Porrier.  But I have no reason to be angry, a cone is a cone, and I get to tease Todd about how his look like mine (OH, how I wish!)  But there are only so many things you can do with a cone when you are teaching beginning jewelers, and the magazine asked for a beginning project.  Since then I hope I have redeemed myself with other more graceful and complicated projects.

But as a teacher, my students sometimes cry  “Someone copied my work!”  Well, I write step-by-step projects for  Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, the 65-year old leading art jewelry teaching magazine, so don’t expect any sympathy from me.  I struggle over designs just as hard as you, and then put them out there for them to be made world wide.  Without you knowing it, if you post all your work on the  www, you will be copied, too.

Not only do people copy my step-by-steps,  but  also what I put out in the Contributor’s Page, which is not taught in the magazine.  Some people even send me the photos of what they have made when they were  inspired by my work.  Some look like my pieces,  some are way off base but they tried.  They are learning, and they liked my piece enough to try an copy it.  I am sincerely flattered.

I know one teacher who teaches the technique project, and then get upsets if the student makes something that looks like it.  That’s not nice.  If you teach, your student ‘s work may emulate your work.  That’s just part of the game.  They will soon find their wings and their own style.  Be happy that you were part of the process. But what about those of  you who are not teaching?  Your work gets copied, and suddenly something appears in a store or gallery, or just a photo shared online, and it looks like yours?  Does that upset you?   Now, think about why.  Is it because the other person’s may sell, and yours may not?  Believe me, everything will sell if you find the right niche.  Is it because you were so brilliant that nothing like this has ever been done before?  Well, maybe, I have seen several artists whom I consider brilliant, but in the history of the world, there MAY have been something that looks similar.    What can you do about it?

Oh, you have a copyright?  Ok, your copyright is only as good as the money you have to defend it.  Don’t worry.  A lawyer will get most of the money, anyway.

One day at the Peter’s Valley Craft Show in Layton, N.J., I was horrified to find “my” piece in the collection being shown and sold by a very  well-known artist..  I had just designed and made this same design, and though the stones were different, the design was exact.  EXACT.  Size and everything.   I hadn’t seen his piece, and I’m pretty sure he hadn’t seen mine.  So I approached the artist, and told him I had just designed one just like it, I hope he wasn’t offended.  He laughed, and said “Well, then I think you are a pretty good designer.  I just finished this piece, and there’s only a few things to do with that shape stone. I hope yours sells, too.”  What a gracious professional.

In my  my first semester of college jewelry I did try  to copy a piece of Jeff Wise’s work.  His stuff is gorgeous, and there was no way I could copy anything of his, even now!   I finally confessed my dastardly sin to  him last summer.  He laughed and said “I hope it worked out for you.  I did the same thing when I was learning.  I’m flattered you liked my work enough to try.”  Again, a very gracious professional.  And my piece never looked even close to his.

As Harold O’Connor once told me.  “Congratulations!  Your piece is in a book.  Now there will be a thousand copies out there.”  Maybe, if others liked it. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter.  I made it because of what it meant to me, and if someone copies it, they won’t get that same feeling.  So I tell my students, “You don’t want your work copied?” Then make  it, put it in a zip lock bag,  put it in a drawer and never, ever let anyone else see it.  They laugh and say “Yea, right.” Truthfully, that is the only way your piece may never be copied or inspire anyone else.  Personally, I think that is sad.

So everyone, just relax.  Will some one copy you exactly?  Heck, I can’t even copy my OWN work.  But if someone does,  think highly of yourself, you have inspired someone.  Be proud of that.  Someone thought enough of your work to imitate it.  Now if they sign your name to it, that’s a different story. But with the internet, and you put your work out there, it may be imitated or copied if the design is good.  But also think back,what inspired you?  Maybe somewhere in the back recesses of your mind you saw something similar to it.   You changed the bail or added a longer stone.  To truly make someone’s inspiration your own, change it 25%,  then change it another 25%.  Then it becomes your own.  Just try it, because its easier than you think.  My idea book is full of pictures by other artist that I pasted in and love to look at for inspiration.  But that’s what it is–inspiration.  Please don’t  copy designs from a fellow artists sketchbooks, that just not nice, but to use something as inspiration and to change it and make it your own, then you can call yourself an artist.  And work on being a gracious professional.

That being said, I still find the greatest inspiration is nature, and not someone else’s work.  But I still LOOOOVVE looking at other’s jewelry.

Now I have to go call Todd and hassle him again about using “my  cone” earrings.

Have a great time designing  and exploring jewelry–


59 Responses

  1. Excellent article Lexi!

    • I’m glad you liked it, Debbie. Hopefully I’ll be posting more and I’m going to try to put more tips in every few days, too.

  2. This is so funny! I’ve only been creating jewelry for about three years now, and of course one of the first things I learned was to make fused, hammered, hoops. A friend of mine saw a pair similar to mine on Etsy, and sent me an email showing me how this person copied me!!!!! She was very indignant. I told her I appreciated her thinking of me, but not only was I not the first to create fused, hammered, hoops, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going to be the last.

    If fact, several weeks ago I drew a design out of my head, and about 3 days later saw something similar in a magazine. I’d never seen it before (that I can remember), so knew I hadn’t “copied” it. Basically it comes down to this for me – with the number of years of human existence, it’s pretty hard to come up with a completely original thought or design that wasn’t inspired from something else.

    I think being a gracious professional is the only way to go – and if anyone ever decides to “copy” one of my designs, I will only feel flattered 🙂

    By the way, do you ever do workshops in Portland, OR? It would be such an honor to meet and learn from you!!

    Take care,

    • Oh thank you, Kristen. Yes, there can be some real ugliness in the art world, to be a “gracious professional” generates so much good will. And Class.
      You are truly gracious. And I love to come to Oregon. I have a lot of students in Washington and Vancouver so I do get up there sometimes, but if you can get a group of students together, I’d love to come do a workshop for you. You can always email me through my website and we will talk. Thank you for asking.


  3. I’d love it, Kirsten. That could be so much fun! Lets talk. You could also come to Denver. I have lots of students who come here and spend 3-5 days and we work on specific techniques or projects.

  4. Lexi, you are kind and gracious. You’ve inspired me, and, I’ll admit, I’ve tried to emulate you in finding my own voice. I would never sell something knowingly inspired by another, but I am so thankful you and others are willing to share knowledge of your craft. You are right, nature is the great teacher. I will continue to look there, and at my own experience, for my inspiration.

    • Jennifer, when you showed me the photo of your piece which was inspired by mine, I was so thrilled that you liked mine and did one like it. You piece was gorgeous. I love being an inspiration to others. Please, do it again, and don’t forget to sen the picture. After all, you inspire me, too.

  5. Hey Lex,

    Great post. Lots of wonderful advice.

    We’ve discussed this topic a lot. You even spotted someone trying to copy my work. Since then, I’ve come to the realization that there really isn’t anything one can do to prevent copy cats. So, as you have said so well here, one just needs to be a gracious professional.

    Let’s face it, my work is strongly influenced by yours because you taught me. And at this point, I know I have started to find my wings with some of my new works, but I know your influence will always be there in some form or fashion. Just like Harold’s influence is seen in your works from time to time. Last year at the CoMA conference, Hoss Haley talked about being influenced by his mentor and how he broke out and found his own voice. The majority of aritsts work at growing and finding their style, their individuality. Others, well, maybe they will just enjoy doing the work for the sake of doing it and finding their own style isn’t that important to them. Who really knows?

    Yes, anything anyone puts out on the web really does become public domain….something the whole world can see. Hopefully people understand that.

    Certainly most of us try to ‘up our game, techniques, methods’ and that works to a point. At one time, I think my concern about being copied actually stifled my own creativity and then awareness came and creativity flowed. For me, being copied doesn’t really matter anymore. My original work has my heart in it, from the design to the crafting of the piece. It’s what you do when you create too.

    Copying may be a sincere form of flattery, a geniune attempt to actually learn a new technique or something else. Whatever the case, being a gracious professional when ones work is copied is the one thing we can control….we can control our reaction to being copied.

    It looks like your friend Helen Driggs was so inspired by one of your bail designs that she used it as one of the ring designs she presented in her latest DVD on making rings. Small world. As you said, we’re all influenced by other people’s work in some way.

    Namaste my dear sister. Love you.

    • Thank you Dear Kathleen, Yes, I feel my work is inspired by Harold, and other’s see it, too. He has an inspirational mentor, too. It just works that way. It’s how we evolve as artists. I had so many people who inspire me, Julie Jerman-Melka, Andy Cooperman (OMG his textures are fabulous), Marne Ryan. Texture is my love, and all my favorite artists use it a lot. I was inspired, but found my own way to use it, and now it has almost become my trade mark.

      I was thrilled to see that Helen was inspired by my bail. That was on a step-by-step I did for Lapidary Journal a few years ago, a piece named “Love Story” and inspired by the Colorado stone, Astorite. The piece is on my website if you want to see it. It’s quite easy to do and I teach it in all of my “Bunches of Bails” class. I was honored she liked it enough to use it as a ring.

      I hope my readers will understand that a little kindness goes a long way. I think that when someone copies your work exactly, they are struggling with their own feelings, so be kind, or they are so impressed with your design that they want it themselves. So again, what a compliment. Is this not easy to understand, yes, and does it lead to frustration with many people. But to let them know that it is ok, you help them on their path to their own voice. Again, thes is only one person’s opinion. I just think its the nice thing to do.

      Glad you like the post.
      Lov you, too,

  6. The real problem with coping others designs is that sooo much of it is done. Creative, original work is pretty rare. Some folks are just so focused on “making” a piece that they don’t think of their own design. Just attend any workshop,craft center class -the instructor has a little neat “project” that students are expected to copy. This project rather than process orientation stifles anything new. It is easier on the instructor so maybe thats why it continues to be the norm in classes.

    • Oh Sue–this has been my big problem when I give workshops. I am process oriented. Whether it be at Beadfest or at workshops I give,I’m told by the people sponsoring the workshop that the students want a project. Yes, it is easier on the teacher. My students leave with a simple project, nothing spectacular, but I want to give them something to take away besides a 35-page handout. My soldering classes at Beadfest are the how and why it works, and what to do when it doesn’t work. There is hands on with me watching very move and I stress the process…soldering. I have taught college (archaeology, anthropology and jewelry) for 20 something years. I push creativity and originality, but today’s students want to leave with a project. I wonder if it is because these students are older and don’t really care to spend the time it takes to learn the process, where as the college students are a captive audience and a grade is give. Also, project oriented students get one project, or technique, and they don’t necessarily know how to transfer that technique to another project. I know that when I have tried to push Creative Jewelry Designing for a workshop, they never fill, though its the class people seem to really want and need. I’d be open to any advice you may have on that. Is it the student or the teacher, I don’t know. Readers? Please chime in.

      • Oh I so agree with both of you! I think some take these classes, just for the fact that they get to take a completed “project” home. I, for one, am there for the process, and more often than not leave dissatisfied because the other students are there for the project, that they then have ideas they want to add to, so the teacher is spending their time showing them something that isn’t related to the class or workshop, and those that are there for the process are left to our own devices. It’s very, very annoying!! I would love a Creative Jewelry Designing workshop!!! Hmmm, will be emailing you Lexi 🙂

      • That is very frustrating, Kirsten. As a teacher with years of actual public school teaching experience and training, I have learned how to handle the Time Bandits. Everyone wants my attention, so I have to divide it equally, and if someone is demanding, I just have to be firm and get them back on task. It’s the years of being a high school and college teacher. It’s usually easier because I don’t have as many students as I had in a high school classes. Having 34 teenagers in an active jewelry class with 6 on the buffers and 6 on the torches and 22 demanding my attention in other ways, well, that teaches you how to juggle many plates!

  7. Excellent article and so timely, especially in this day and age when so much is “out there.” Thank you for posting this! It is valuable for artists and makers of all types.

    • Thank you so much.The topic is a tough one to tackle because of so many emotions and our attachment to our work. There is no “right” answer, and this is just my personal opinion. I really appreciate that you enjoyed the post and thank you so much for writing.


  8. Insightful! One of my first enamel teachers, Merry Lee Rae, taught using one of her designs. She cautioned us against trying to replicate it outside class and sell it because a student had tried … and soon went broke. It was impossible for a beginner to work as quickly and well as the master, and the student couldn’t profit from it.

    I learned from her that if I was all that worried about copycats, I should make my work unprofitable to replicate and to always strive to be the best. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the world is trying to make your designs: if you do it best, you win. And if they can’t make any money from it, they’ll stop.

    But I’m actually not all that worried about copycats. There’s really nothing new under the sun and if I think of a design as ‘mine’ chances are I’m wrong. Every show I do, there is at least one person who looks at my flowers and exclaims, “I had something EXACTLY like that in the sixties.”

    It keeps me humble.

    • Hi Kathleen–you are so right, plus people will soon be able to recognize each artist and their specific technique..its like a fingerprint. I can recognize your work instantly. What really matters is your own personal journey and that it brings joy to your life and delight to your eyes.

  9. My first Jewelry class the teacher said “there is nothing original, everything has been done.” At first thought thats horrible, but now I see the truth in it. We all without knowing it, pick up images and store them in our brains unconsciously. The only way I know to be truly original is to create a technique, that no one knows. I met an artist one day who did just that and when I asked him about it he replied he wasn’t giving away his secrets.
    I believe in teaching and learning from each other. People have taught me and I in turn will teach others. The guy with the special technique may have been hit by a bus and his technique is now lost.
    People when first learning always copy something and once they get the hang of things tend to settle into their own style.
    Try not to be offended if your work gets copied just try to look at it as a compliment.

  10. If someone wants to copy my work, I’m fine with that. Quite a bit of my bread-and-butter isn’t all that unique (stacking rings, anyone?). I just make them fast and well. As for the rest, I just try to make it better than anything else I see out there.

    Even my one-of-a-kinds arean’t all that innovative. Instead, I use unique stones that cannot, or will not, be duplicated and design specifically to them and follow up with some of the best finishing you’ll find anywhere. I make my statement with quality and thoughtful design.

  11. Thank you for this article! You put it all in perspective. I no longer get upset when someone copies my work and do get upset when I’m accused of copying theirs (especially when I’ve never seen it). Yes, a cone is a cone, and if great minds think alike, perhaps great artists do as well.

  12. Discussing the issues surrounding ‘copying’ isn’t a neat, and tidy undertaking. There are several layers to the conversation and many people tend to lump the several ideas and individual concerns into one basket.
    Thanks for attempting to separate them a bit. I think the whole discussion and irritation levels center around the intent for the finished product, as evidenced by how the ‘copy’ is presented.

    In the hands of an accomplished and well-read artist, basic shapes evoke certain possibilities which are evident to ALL well-read and accomplished artists. The possibility for something almost exact from both of them in those cases is great.
    But it stretches the boundaries of credulity when a person who ‘just started’ two months earlier suddenly makes something similar or almost exact, then claims it as ‘original.’

    There has *always* been imitation for learning purposes. For my part, people who do this will ALWAYS receive encouragement! GOOD!!! GO FOR IT!!!!
    This is because since the very first generations of humans walked the planet, not a single one of us has been ‘self taught.’ Humanity evolved learning through example, whether person to person, or through reference materials – including just sitting in a museum or online and studying the form. Therefore, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anything to spring fully formed and untouched by others from our minds. We ALL ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ in one way or another. Put simply – the ONLY way to learn is to copy something we have seen or read.
    We have teachers and mentors who inspire us to try. Naturally, our first works carry their flavor – as is to be expected.
    But here is where the problem lies: do we as students acknowledge this, then try to move on? Or do we proclaim ourselves instant artists after a single successful class or imitation, then proceed to use the work of others as a pattern for our so-called ‘design line’?

    Sadly, there are way too many of the latter. Now compound that with the fact that people believe there is ‘easy’ money to be made in instruction. It IS easy if someone else does the hard work of design and instruction editing for you……
    Many people now take classes and buy tutorials with the intent to teach classes on the project – they see them as seminars for instructors, complete with a ready-made handout library. They rarely , give attribution, much less ask permission to do this.

    Most instructors and artists have no problem being gracious to those who are learning through imitation with the intent to gain skill and experience. But it does rankle when those imitations are consequently presented as original. Or their hard work in the form of designing and writing class materials is lifted wholesale without a by your leave.
    That sort of ‘copying’ is very, very tough to be gracious about.Sadly, the practice is rampant.

    Sorry for the ‘rant’, Lexi – I totally agree with most if not all of what you have presented!

    BTW – I suspect the reason that Helen Driggs’ use of your design in her instruction does not bother you is because in effect, she used it to teach the modularity of design elements – what can be used as a bail can be used as a ring, or scaled differently to make earrings or a bracelet. Am I right? 🙂

  13. Thank you for a new angle on this topic Lexi. I think people do eventually develop their own styles through copying tutorials or another artists work. It is how we learn in all aspects of life. What is important is that when we do copy verbatim, we don’t assume it to be our own work and do give credit to the original artist. Over time we tweak the designs or styles to make them our own.

    As for teachers – well I think if you are going to teach your techniques, you must expect that people will copy, and if you can’t handle someone copying your work, you shouldn’t share your knowledge. I don’t teach, but I have seen work that is very similar to mine, and I never take offense, I’m flattered that someone likes my designs enough to want to create them.

  14. I love this. I post tutorials on my blog for people and Im more sad when I dont see how thy managed to make something following the tutorial. I tend t think as much as others may copy or try copy work I have published I hope its how I make a piece the quality of it and the materials that will have people choose my option when it comes to sales.

  15. Great article, thanks for sharing! Personally I would be highly flattered to think anyone considered my work inspiring! I know I find inspiration myself in many places, including other peoples’ work, but when I share my pieces online I try to always attribute inspiration where I can! I also make sure that I do not copy, but put my own spin on what I produce. As stated above, each artist has their own ‘fingerprint’ of design, and it soon becomes very evident even when the same source of inspiration is drawn on!

  16. Hey Lexi, that line “I can’t even copy my own work” is mine! LOL
    I have been beading my entire life and in 1998 I finally got the courage to venture into publishing. I sent a design to a magazine and was sad and horrified to find “my” design idea on the cover of their very next issue. After a heated letter and then a calm conversation, I learned that the magazine works (at the time) ahead six issues and that my design idea and the timing of the cover was simply coincidental. Fast forward 15 years and I now have many published articles and two books. I’m not sure how many of “my” pieces are floating around, but my goal has always been to teach what I know in order for the art to continue. Your article hear is what many of us think and feel. Thanks for writing it. And then sharing it. 🙂

  17. Love, love this posting! Thank you! For me, it didn’t take long to realize that nothing is new or original on this planet. I would get so annoyed when I did something that I thought was new, only to go online to find out that it had been done before. But I don’t feel that way anymore. If we were to adhere to this “you are copying me” mentality, we would be wearing the same style of shoes, clothes, everything that at some point came from one original pattern. No one would be allowed to recreate that pattern and expand on it because the original creator of that “pattern” would have the sole right to use that pattern, technique, etc. Yes, there are people who copy other’s work stitch for stitch, weld for weld, texture for texture, for the sole goal of reproduction and quick sale. For me, learning a technique or stitch is a “jumping off point”, a way of increasing my knowledge of a new technique or pattern and then issuing a “challenge”. When I sit down to create this technique again, my goal is not to copy. My goal is, “what can I do to expand on this technique?” “Is there a way I can “shift this” or “increase that” to make something different?” There is no fun in repetitive “copying” and most of us don’t go into these arts with that mentality. Most of us want to find our own voice. And you see it in the progression of their work. Yes, their beginning pieces may be reminiscent of their teacher, but after awhile, if they allow themselves to grow and think out of the box, you can see it in their future designs. And that is what I strive to do.

  18. Thanks, Lexi, for a realistic viewpoint on this subject. I teach also, although I rarely see something taught in class then being made later by one of the students. There have been two instances, though, when I have gotten a bit annoyed. One was when another instructor asked me where to purchase supplies so that she could teach a specific project that I had been teaching for several years. Now I don’t have a problem with students making more of the projects or even SELLING them, but for another teacher (and FRIEND) to get paid to teach a project that I developed and had taught MULTIPLE times – that got my dander up. The other instance is when I shared a booth with another jewelry artist at a show – and there being sold in her section were SEVERAL pieces that she had bought from me. This was a show where the work was supposed to be hand made by the artist. There was no sign or label that the work was mine. I will probably never sell her anything else. Now if someone purchases a pendant from me and then makes a necklace using that pendant and sells it – that is something else. But obviously, now she was tired of wearing my piece and just wanted to unload it. Yeesh.

  19. A few things you could have mentioned in your article – since i agree with everything you said.
    Simultaneous Discovery is the the phrase used for idea that are just ripe to happen mostly because of discoveries that have happened in the past. Edison and Marconi developed the radio, independently in two different parts of the world.
    I am a lampworker. copy me – go ahead , By the time you figure out how to do it like I do, I’m miles ahead on something else. Besides even if there were 30 of me producing the same piece, They couldn’t flood the market with my product. Only the Chinese can do that and i make beads that take longer than 10 minutes to make, so mass production is out for them.
    The world according to Su .

  20. With all the discussions out there on this subject, I was ready to say forget it all. I do try not to copy, but sometimes things just happen, I think you save everything you see in a file in your head and when it comes out, it sometimes is like others. Your post just made me smile and sigh It will be ok!! thank you!!

  21. I just now read this article and would like to reference it on my blog if you don’t mind. Thanks for writing it! I love your sense of humor, too!

    • GAil, Im sorry Im late in responding. My blog had been hit by so much spam that I;m jsut sorting this all out. I would be honored if you posted this or referenced it on your blog. By all means. And thank you for doing that.

  22. Well said! Great article 🙂


  23. What a great article. It reminds me of the notion of mentoring. When you do mentor someone, you have to be confident enough in your own competencies to realize that you are in fact “training” them to replace you! Thanks for sharing these words with us.


    • Absolutely Lyne–I think a great many of my students have emulated at least one piece in my style. Students can’t help but be influenced by their teachers, and I have learned so much from my students, too. But I don’t want them to “replace” me too quickly! LOL However, I have a bumper sticker in my studio which refers to so many of my students who are in well-known galleries all over the country, and it says “There they go, and I must hurry after them, for I am their leader”. It really applies to my students and I am thrilled with every one of their success. I have not lived in vain!
      Thank you for your thoughts,

  24. Excellent blog post, Lexi. Very well said and well thought out. I’ve seen so many people who are paranoid about being copied that they can’t see that 1) it might be a coincidence and 2) it’s actual flattery!

    • Absolutely, Sally,it is flattery. Anything that is truly beautiful is going to inspire someone else. I’ve been inspired by Harold O’Connor, Marne Ryan, Todd Reed, Sydney Lynch, oh…so many other fabulous artists that I can’t name them all. Sometimes something I may create may combine the elements of many of them, yet be totally my own creation. But those particular artists are always in my head.
      Thank you for writing. Please write again,

  25. I felt your heart in this writing. Thank you for sharing how you felt on the topic. I gained a new perspective, not brand new but one that now has me relaxed on the subject. Thank you for your beautiful inspirations in the magazine as well. I admire your work and strive towards the outstanding techniques you teach thru each one.
    From an admirer in Arlington, Virginia

    • Oh Catherine, you are so right…as a teacher, I love to share and I’m here to help you with whatever you need. Please feel free to write anytime, and anyone can contact me through my website, lexi@lexierickson.com. Thank you for your sweet words, and I’m honored to be even the slightest inspiration to you.

  26. I am so happy to see someone take this approach. I’ve always said if you don’t want someone to copy your work don’t put it out there. If you are really an artist you are usually way past that piece by the time copies start showing up anyway. I always remember the saying ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ Everyone is inspired by other people and inevitably stuff is going to look like some other person’s stuff to a point at least. I don’t agree with going out and intentionally tying to make exact copies of other people’s work. For two reasons primarily. 1. where is the fun in that? 2. I want to be known for my own style and not as someone that does stuff like so and so’s stuff. But I also draw inspiration from a variety of sources nature, other art, and even other types of art. Like seeing something in a sculpture or something and thinking now that would make a good way to….

    Worrying about if you are being copied or what you are going to do about it or if your piece looks too much like someone else’s is just stifling and really puts a damper on creativity in my opinion.

    Thanks for putting this out there.

    • Thanks Marsha, that’s my opinion exactly. And as I said, when I did try to copy Jeff Wise’s piece as a first semester jewelry student, it was a dismal failure, and I realized I didn’t enjoy the entire process….so why do it? Pieces that you copy have no soul. Even thought I write for Lapidary Journal and put my pieces out there with complete instructions on how to make them, they are only a seed of an idea. Take it and make it yours, as I tell my students.
      Thank you for your thoughts on this. As I start writing more on my blog, now that it’s fixed, I hope you will enjoy my writing an please keep in touch.

  27. Lexi, I so admire you. I am a newbie, and I love to look at other styles and designs and use those techniques in my pieces. But I always get worried if I use a technique that someone else used or a certain material and get called out for copying them.. I love the “change it up 25% and then another 25%”.

    • Hi Michelle. Welcome to the world of jewelry making. It’s fabulous and fun, and I will be here to help you in any way. I’m sorry I’m late in answering you. This account had been hit with so much spam that I’m trying to go through and answer a few at a time, an its taking some time. Please now I;m here for you with any questions or in any way I can help. The world always needs more beautiful art and I can’t wait to see yours.

  28. Loved the article!
    Kimberly Berlin 🙂

  29. The only way that creatures survive is to copy the adults. Copying is in our genes. This is how we learned to talk, eat and walk. Getting upset about someone who copies our designs is like saying to then I don’t want you to be like a human. Non of us is really that original. All of our designs have been influenced by those who have gone before us.

    • What ann interesting way to think about this, LeRoy. Thank you for your comments. I wholeheartedly agree.

  30. curious about your thoughts on when a student takes your class and then goes home and teaches it as their own and even uses the class sample made in my class as the sample for her class?

    • Kecia–That is touchy, but I think it’s wrong, in my humble opinion. The “teacher” who does this has to live with his/her own feelings about that. I have had that happen, and I have spoken to the student about it. If they want to remake my project, add something of their own, write their own tutorial, (not just hand them a copy of mine with my name whited out) and experiment with different elements, that would be fine. I have, at times, taken a very simple project, such as my half round stacking rings, and written the tutorial and said it may be shared by other teachers. Heavens! I’m not the first one who came up with that project, I’m sure. I think it’s pretty “public domain” by now. But it is very hurtful to the original teacher, and who knows who that original teacher was? Sometimes life is just not fair. I’m sorry, I know that’s not a good answer, but we can’t legislate ethics, unfortunately. We can only do what we know is right.
      Good luck,

    • Two thoughts–why teach something if you don’t want others to make the same piece? It will be copied, that just goes with the territory of being a teacher.

      HOWEVER, that was very wrong of your student. She needs to come up with her own technique, samples, handouts (that are not xeroxes of yours). A wise student will soon learn that particular teacher is not ethical. It will show in other ways, too. This has happened to me, too. I just quit teaching at that place, and they have to deal with their own Karma. I have copyrighted my handouts, but an unethical teacher will just white out my name and insert their own. We can’t police that, we just have to move on and know that they are not creative to come up with their own projects.

  31. Hi, Lexi! What a terrific article! I am bookmarking this! ♥

  32. Great Article..So glad I found your page. I don’t mine if anyone looks at my work to get inspired but I did upset someone else..I was inspired by their piece of jewelry. It wasn’t an exact duplicate…I didn’t sell it..I gave it as a gift to my niece. Her firends came to my page and made a few not so nice remarks and I was even threatened. I had to contact facebook.

    Thanks so much for the great Article. I hope you don’t mine if I post it on my FB page. If you do I will delete it.


    • Hi Danita–I’m thrilled that you want to share it on your FB page. It’s a touchy subject, I now. Not a lot of clear cut answers, but maybe i will help other. Thanks for doing that.Hugs,

    • Danita, I’m sorry you were hassled. I have heard of a woman who makes cross jewelry, and has over 700+ lawsuits against people who make crosses. There are unreasonable people every where. I haven’t seen your work, but in your heart you didn’t mean to upset anyone. I hope it has not kept you from continuing to create. Good luck, Lexi

  33. This is quite honestly the most thoughtful shared introspect on ‘copying’ I have come across.

    I had an email conversation with a beading magazine editor over this very issue. I was terrified that I would ‘steal’ someone’s idea instead of using their work for inspiration. I asked that editor and the beading community via forums, when does it stop being theirs and start to be mine?

    I often build off of other artist’s ideas; I use their idea as a base starting point then start adding and subtracting until I get it the way I want it. My worry was that I was inadvertently ‘stealing’ someone’s idea and they would find out, hunt me down like a little woodland creature, and sue my peterrabitneses bottom off. Yikes!

    While I wouldn’t want to flagrantly take another artist’s idea and claim it as my own (or that what I had created was their work), your article has relieved a lot of my anxiety on the issue. Thanks again. =^.^=

    • And to think I came here originally searching for information on Pickle. lol

    • I’m so glad you liked the article. Some have lambasted me and told me I was totally wrong, that one should sue whoever “steals” their designs. I think I pretty well answered that, but I’m inspired by others work, myself, and recognize that you can’t possibly know everything that is out there, all over the world, and that someone may have riffed on, or yes, even stolen, your design. Where does it stop? There has to be a voice of reason somewhere, and I try to present that. You can drive yourself crazy being afraid that somewhere out there, someone has already done something like you are doing or someone, somewhere has already done it. Yes, somewhere, someone may have already drawn that design or even made it. You just have to be honest with yourself and good things will come to you. Good luck in the future with all your designs……Lexi

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