Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Just Ask

Donna Kato has started a lively, and important discussion on her blog about copycats and those who teach what others have taught them. The discussion has spilled over to Cynthia Tinapple's blog, Polymer Clay Daily , and a lively discussion is ensuing in the comments section to her post.

I had written before about how easy it is to be sucked into the trap of being overly influenced by the work of another artist, and how Kathleen Dustin had taught me the depth of surface technique I use with my jewelry and vessels. I used to worry tremendously that people would think I was trying to copy her work. As much as I adore the work she does, doing the same thing she does would feel hollow compared to figuring out what I could do with the process. The more I explore the process the less worried I am about my work creating any confusion.

I wrote the other day about the article in Belle Armoire Jewelry featuring one of my necklaces. This whole discussion about teaching what others have taught resurrects my experience with this article. Here's the back story about that article.....

When I submitted the jewelry, I assumed that it would be more of a gallery presentation. If I had looked carefully at the previous issue, I would have seen this was wrong.
When the editor contacted me to tell me my work was accepted for the magazine I was ecstatic. But, when the email continued that they wanted a article that explained how to make the piece I suddenly was not so sure that this was going to happen. The design is my own. But the technique borrows heavily from what I had learned from Kathleen. She continues to teach this process. I have never wanted to venture into that territory. It belongs to her.

I emailed Kathleen. I outlined the situation, and described my suggested solution. She was very gracious in agreeing to my going ahead with the article and made one suggestion, which I was more than willing to incorporate. Beyond what we agreed to, I added the suggestion that anyone who wanted to learn more about the process should take a class with Kathleen, and her website address. Kathleen's class is a weekend long, intensive class. It is not one that can truly be learned in a two page article, without pictures or diagrams.

I hope that others do not look at what I did and see someone who is trying to rip off the hard work and reputation of someone who is so admired. It has made me think about where I submit my work in the future. I don't want to find myself in this situation again.

I am glad that Donna has opened up this discussion. It is one that is needed from time to time. I had seen listing for the class in question, and did a double take when I saw the instructor. It is unfortunate that Donna was not consulted in this case. I hope that if and when you find yourself in this situation you honor your teachers. They deserve it. And you will sleep better in the end.

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