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Boundries for applying inspiration

What are the Boundries for Applying Inspiration Generated by Someone
Else’s Work to Your Own Design?

Hello Everyone,

I so often hear/read the words " inspired by" or “inspiration for my
own design” in reference to viewing someone else’s work. And, I do
believe there are no truly original designs and that everything is
just a remix of symbols, patterns, etc.

But, I would be interested in reading a discussion on the Orchid
forum on what constitutes an acceptable application of “an
inspiration” as it relates to observing someone else’s work and using
it to create your own work. And, at what point is someone approaching
the outer boundary or the fringe of an acceptable application of
design when using someone else’s work as an inspiration, apart from
the obvious such as blatant copy cat or knock-off designs?

In other words, I’m interested in hearing about the fringe of the
definition of “inspiration” as it relates to using someone else’s

And, please don’t quote the dictionary’s definition.

I think artists should try to develop a “hand” that others can’t
copy. My customers who really like my work (and there isn’t a lot of
them) recognize my “hand” when they see it on another woman, or in a
shop. Develop your hand, and it won’t matter a whole lot about the
design. For example, if anyone is fortunate enough to go to pot luck
dinners where some actually make the food, and you know who they
are, you already know who’s casserole you better get a serving of,
they make it best, even if they use the same ingredients as everyone
else. They have the best “hand” for the dish.

Roxy Lentz

I am often inspired by really fine craftsmanship. It makes me want
to do better work. I do my best to never “quote” another artist’s
style. I prefer what my sick and twisted little mind comes up with.

Have fun and make lots of original jewelry.
Jo Haemer

In other words, I’m interested in hearing about the fringe of the
definition of “inspiration” as it relates to using some one else’s
work. Recently I took some time to look at bronze sculptures by a
gifted sculptor, Suzanne Johnson. The pieces are human forms, faces,
and busts of other artists too. When looking at them I immediately
felt the movement and emotions in the pieces. I could sense what the
sculptor felt during their creation. Some pieces do actually 'speak’
to us if they are well executed, but I’m referring to realism
mostly. So, I was inspired to revisit several pieces of jewelry that
I’d done in the past of human forms and faces. As I looked at the
photographs of my past work I could see where I could recreate them
with much more emotion and movement this time. I believe that
inspiration is closely intertwined with individual identity, and this
sculptor definitely inspires me!

M. Mersky

But, I would be interested in reading a discussion on the Orchid
forum on what constitutes an acceptable application of "an
inspiration" as it relates to observing someone else's work and
using it to create your own work. 

Honesty is an important part of such a discussion, and denial that
everybody copies or deriving their inspiration from work of others,
is counter productive. As far as boundaries, it is up to an
individual. My view,- it is perfectly acceptable to use ideas of
others, as long as it results in original work.

An example of this would be work of Schlumberger. His work has a very
particular feel about and frankly can be recognized from a mile
away. For many years I believed that the way he used combination of
metals and to express forms was his own ideas. However,
recently I have seen a bracelet designed by prince Phillip and
executed by Boucheron, which pre-dates Schlumberger work and
combination of metals and stones looked very familiar. In my mind,
influence of prince Phillip design on the work of Schlumberger is

Does that in any way diminish Schlumberger accomplishments?
Absolutely not. Prince Phillip had an epiphany, the significance of
which he did not even realized. Schlumberger understood the
importance and produced large volume of original work employing that

Leonid Surpin

In other words, I'm interested in hearing about the fringe of the
definition of "inspiration" as it relates to using someone else's

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or you might wind up in
court for plagiarism. Or your credibility as an original designer
might be damaged. The boundary is less of a line than it is a broad
blurry minefield. A lot of it has to do with ‘presentation’, whether
you are perceived as a copy-cat or part of a genre. And how well it
goes for you is all about the perception of others.

Stephen Walker

Andover, NY


Years ago I was working on a project for an interior designer.

She gave me a picture of a Giacometti Dinner table with the squarie
legs set diagonally so a flat face was on the corner and diagonal
reinforcing rungs at the bottom, a small platform for a sculpture at
the x of those braces and a few other distinct things, the legs had
platforms for tall thin sculptures out from the corners.

I really like this, she said, but I want to do coffee table that is
5 ft sq.

Ok now you can imagine the difference in tall and slender and Gimly
the stocky dwarf. I set about playing with ratios, and looking for
pleasant lines…

I lost the corner mounted sculpture stands, kept the square legs and
squashed them down to nearly a third their height so the column
stayed the same but was short and fat. I took that form and lost foam
sand cast it in fairly coarse playground sand to get a real
interesting texture. I scaled up the stringer size so it was not lost
against the mass of these now stocky corner legs. Designed my own
center sculpture stand. Got some commercial bronze angle framed up
the top with the smooth extruded stuff, did a nice patina and
delivered it.

The Client was happy.

A couple years later I was in the Guild Sourcebook and I put in a
picture of my one of a kind table.

I immediately received a cease and desist notice from some lawyer
representing some other person making faux finish steel tables with
diagonal stringers and legs. Claiming they owned that detail.

Don’t think so…

I might not, but you sure don’t “Johnny come lately.”

On a similar note my friend Bruce received a cease and desist order
claiming damages to some 22 year old who claimed a piece that had
been published in a newspaper was an obvious copy of his client’s
brilliantly inspired work. Bruce told them he had no intention of
stopping making art in any manner that he cared to explore, but that
ceasing wasn’t really a problem since he had stopped making that
style 37 years ago when he got bored with it. It sold well, it just
got “olde”.

Oh well.