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Wax teaching


Annette, I sympathize with your dilemma! I have a word of advise
about the design issue. Whenever students of mine reveal to me that
they are about to replicate a design of mine (which they often do
without the slightest hint of selfconciousness) I tell them that they
must be aware that while copying to learn technique is often
acceptable, one must always ask permission about a design. This sends
the message that the design is not “clip art”. I honestly don’t mind
if students try to make something like what I’ve made, I just want
them to know that it would not be all right for them to start
producing it. It may be a little uncomfortable at first but they
should know what is acceptable, and it is your job as a teacher to
tell them. If they “borrow” from you they will do it to other
students who will only feel badly about it but not know what to do.
Generally when I’ve pointed out that they have an obligation to ask
permission, they are so startled by the idea that they have crossed a
line that they choose another project. We all glean inspiration from
the work of others, and very few designs are new, however, that does
not absolve us from trying to avoid copying. This is especially true
of the work of people who are being gracious enough to share their
skills with us.

P.S. Drawing a distinction between technique and design is key. When I
visited a museum in Berlin years ago I was confused by the many
paintings that looked vaguely like Carravaggios work but were not right
somehow. It turned out that they were student copies, but that the
students had turned out to be famous in their own right. The museum put
them up because they were historically significant, but every label said
"copy of Carravaggio".