Well I bring this up because there has been a lot of jewellery exhibitions over the past few weeks here in Perth, and for the most part interesting and inspiring.
But…………..there where a few pieces that seemed to be copies - conceptually, stylistically, elementally. I wonder how this could happen, that educated curators could allow seemingly copies to go into exhibitions, (and no, I am not going to back that up with any finger pointing, this discussion is of a more general nature) and my conclusion is that we either:
a. Don't know (why not). b. Are just a little scared to say/do anything.
Yet shouldn't an organisation like the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia discuss these issues, perhaps set a standard of how to tackle such a problem. When I asked around, all I got were cynical answers.
So I am hoping that some of our members will brave the scary world of jewellery forums and share their thoughts here ……
Could this be for the reason of lack of innovation in the field of Art Jewelry? Isolation? Lack of historical knowledge?
All of the above?
I feel that Art is Art and it is self regulating. Meaning that maybe it's not our place to say. Live and let live. Actually, if we look at the world of Art we can see many similar aesthetic veins ie: cartoon eyes, guns, jets, bombs, and the dreaded BUNNY! Too many bunnies. Besides originality is a difficult achievement.
Copying and copywright is a hard subject to determine because I think in the collective poll of creativity there is such a thing where artists are similar in style therefore producing a 'sameness' in their art. Where the breach has perhaps happened I would look at the proximity of those artists and if they share a workspace and if they are 'feeding off each other' in a creative sense. I do believe in a creative poll where perhaps spiritually artists 'pick up' ideas by chance that are the sameness without knowing that perhaps someone else has/is doing the same work.
I do also believe that it is up the the individual artist to be honest in their designs and themselves if they knowingly copy someone else's work but I guess some artists aren't. Its one thing to have someone 'copy' your work because you inspire them but another if your work is copied out of sheer laziness or lack of ideas. But, is it a question of how one looks at it? Does it come from a question of scarcity of ideas and ownership? Its a fine line and a grey area.
I agree with what Anthony says, Art is self regulating, and live and let live.
I have to admit that answering this is a curly one.....
I think this is an issue worth addressing- yet how to discuss it with out seeming like a pedant, or rabid.....
I accept that sometimes work by different jewellers might overlap- especially in technique. There are a limited number of tools and techniques, one cant re invent the wheel all the time.- however one can redesign the wheel....
It is the application of these tools etc that make jewellery really sing, or flop...
I wonder if it is partly related to the current teaching of craft and design in tertiary institutes?
I don't ever feel flattered when some one makes similar work- I feel irritated. I don't care if I inspire them, a real jeweller takes that as a starting point and makes their own response.
I find it especially annoying when the idea of an individual producer is picked up by a commercial venture.
I often find the work of other artists inspiring but probably more in terms of wishing to understand the way they apply their technique to expressing something in their work. However I usually don't desire to express the same "something". nevertheless I try to envisage from an inspiring piece of work how the technique would serve my needs. In my case this is because my primary means of making my pieces is through casting from one-off patterns where I directly work with the wax and natural materials. Not many jewelery artists seem to do this so I am always pleased to find someone who does.
I keep a scrapbook of inspiring ideas from others. Interestingly enough there is not much jewelery there but there are motifs, patterns and interesting shapes that I might draw upon in the future. I don't see this as breaching the intellectual property of others any more than drawing form the ideas of others with whom I engage in other forms of dialogue. My most immediate inspiration comes from the natural world..
Having been the (can I be emotional?)victim of total plagiarism many ,many times I think it's o.k. to address this.And like the reply earlier-I don't feel flattered when someone copies my work -I feel irritated and somewhat frustrated by it.
To be brutally honest ,whenever I spend any time cruising galleries in either New Zealand or Australia I'm shocked at how much "same" there is in these places-sometimes even in the same gallery
A sea of same
I think it's because people go to art school and are "taught' to create a certain way-
they then end up producing work that looks and feels like their tutors or their counterparts. True design skill comes from within-it can't be taught..
I'm a firm believer the self taught artist jeweller often has more inspiration and is prepared to take more risks in their work
The internet can take same blame-though if like me you have a website,then you have to expect to be copied incessantly-worldwide!
I think the bottom line is you need to "get over it" when it happens(hard -but fair)
Have complete faith in your ability as an artist to "move on" continue growing ,diversify,and keep one step ahead of all those little copycats...
And shame on big names such as Karen Walker for using our independant ideas to sell to the masses.
I could "rant" on for hours ..
I suppose in my case I am not so much self taught as continually learning from my own deficiencies and the work of others. I'm obscure enough that I suppose I'm not worth copying. In any case if anyone else wished to draw upon the same inspiration and techniques as mine, their own voice would inevitably have to come through or they couldn't manage.
Well there are a few big statements in there Anthony. Thanks for throwing them in. I am still pondering lack of innovation in the field of Art Jewellery. Is there a lack of innovation? My part of the world is so far away from what seems to be the hubub of Europe and the US, where I imagine (perhaps erroneously) that people actually want to buy jewellery not just 4 wheel drives, I hold a dream that there is innovation and boundary pushing going on somewhere else and that it will all be way above my head. I dont want to know that there is a lack of innovation. Will have to look into that. What constitutes innovation??? There is copying and copying and certainly that has been explored in other art fields in so many different ways, but I am not so sure that copying jewellery really fits into contributing to the greater dialogues of the art world, I would equate it to being like the music industry, of course there is taking a foundation and developing it, and then there is ripping it off.
Thanks for the input Anthony
Thanks Debra, Karen Walker getting both kudos and cash from the ideas of independent jewellers is at the very least where a bit of brave back up should be available. How bloody hard would it be to hire a jeweller to design a range for her. We would be falling over ourselves. And then it would all seem to make a little more sense. On a small scale a bit of copying is just a little embarassing to observe, but on a commercial scale it could/should be tackled.
Read this cautionary tale about ex-model turned jewellery designer Erin Wasson. True, casting our work to the internet does mean losing ownership, but sometimes the internet bites back. Are Erin Wasson’s Jewelry Designs Actually Her Own?
I think it’s all part and parcel of the Jewellery industry. I would be lying if I said that I never came up with an idea only to realise later that it had been done before. (Hate it when that happens!)
It must happen with all types of art, Music, Clothing, Jewellery and so on.
I think, once you realise what’s happened, (or once it’s been brought to your attention.) The right thing to do is to own up and say, hey you know what? I was unaware at the time that this design has been done before. Then you either come up with an agreement, suitable for both parties or stop anything you’re doing with the project.
I feel it must be acceptable to take inspiration from any design out there, and create something similar but not entirely the same. It is possible to do this without breaking any copyright laws! Artistic licence must be allowed for art to progress.
In today’s society, I wouldn’t be surprised if one can even copyright the wheel if they have enough money to do so. I’m sure Tiffany & Co would certainly give it a good try.
They did very well with the Tiffany Heart. Cartier likewise had much success with a certain Cartier bracelet. (A basic flat band and screws)
Sadly we have fallen victim to the larger companies who dictate what we are allowed, and not allowed to create. I sometimes feel it’s only being a matter of time before every design we come up with, we’ll have to pay a certain licence fee for the privilege.
It kind of takes the Fun and Passion out of Jewellery designing. And when that happens, what’s the point!? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Expressing ourselves through design!
The possibilities of what constitutes jewelery are extensive but not endless. We have a set of conventions of what parts of a person's body or clothing we attach the item we make. They are partially culturally defined aesthetics which we may seek to take in new directions, but there are also practicalities concerned with the nature of the materials we work with and what is comfortable and practical to wear,
For instance there is an essential sameness about the design of all rings because hit has to fit around a finger (or toe); has to not significantly impede routine activities: has to be made from materials that skin can tolerate; and needs to robust enough in design and fabrication to withstand some wear and tear. Admittedly there are exceptions and creative designers have pushed the boundaries of what constitutes a "ring", but at the risk of going beyond accepted limitations. I don't think that Cartier could patent the wheel, but it would be rather scary if they could patent "the ring". It is rater unlikely that Tiffany were the first to use screws in jewelery.
In all artistic endeavors we balance between working within aesthetic conventions and pushing and shaping them against the limitations of those conventions to produce something distinctive. At times many may push in the same direction, partially because people are inspired by each other but also partially because the particular limits are available to be challenged for other reasons --- for instances broader cultural shifts and aesthetic movements (e.g., steampunk) and changes in technology. For instance, the availability of laser welding has opened up new possibilities for combining materials.
The balance of our response between originality and being derivative is up to us.
I think everyone shares a responsibility to acknowledge sources. While this is unlikely to involve a formal breach of copyright, it does compromise the identity of the field of jewellery as a shared set of references against which we read innovation.
I think curators and writers should allow for extended captions that include not only title, dimensions and materials, but also previous works that inspired the present one. If made overt rather than discovered by others, this has potential to add depth to the work and to the jeweller's place in the jewellery scene.
To this end, we need to ensure that previous key works are well-documented and that students have access to this information.