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 ……
All artists are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. A lot of art (jewelry included) is derivative. This does not necessarily make it plagiarism or even bad art. If you doubt that, study a little art history.
This discussion started about copyright and copying. That implies intentionally copying another artist's design, usually for economic gain. It happens all the time. Its crappy business. But it is standard operating procedure in the world of fashion and commercial jewelry. It happens because there is almost no practical recourse against it, and the financial stakes are so high.
There are generally two suggested methods of protecting yourself from this:
1. Design things that are too complex to be manufactured easily or cheaply.
2. Design and market fast and keep ahead of the knock-off artists.
Most art jewelers really don't have to worry much about any of this in the first place. They don't have the volume of sales to get anyone's interest. What gets knocked off is things that are hot - that are selling fast. Where art jewelers get knocked off is by commercial jewelers taking the concept and blinging it out.
And Anthony.... we did a bunny pin and sold the shit out of it.
"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"
Very clearly expressed, a succinct way of putting it. I agree we must lead on our own paths.
However... "The internet can take some blame-though" I disagree entirely with this point... surely you cannot blame a simple tool of disseminating information, either the internet or any particular website... I cant help but think that the root of the problem lies primarily in the way that some people 'respond to' and 'process' the visual information they find (on the internet or anywhere else). The means by which images are communicated to a 'copier' cannot be blamed... however the fact that the person 'copying' sees no problem in the act of simply re-iterating pre-existing work is the problem.
What I'm saying is that I see the proliferation and ease of access to visual information, on the most part as a welcome means of speeding up cultural awareness of the 'movements' within any field of work... However the problem of 'copying' comes more from the way certain individual people 'use' that information, individuals who are incapable of leading on their own path. Surely to blame the internet is almost like "shooting the messenger"
I want to add something about the suggestion that JMGA set a standard - more of an aside to the core discussion.
There isn't actually a JMGA body at a national level - just state groups which loosely work together on a conference every couple of years. Not all states/territories have a group and some groups are much more active than others. Having a national body has been discussed, but so far nothing has come of it as far as I know.
So this suggestion is problematic - as much as I do think it would be great to see some sort of a national focus which perhaps has a code of ethics for members, can lobby for members' interests, etc.
All of the JMGAs are made up of individuals who volunteer their time. If people would like their state group to be more active in particular areas, such as this issue, or would like to see a national focus set up in some way - or would even like to see a JMGA group in their state/territory if there isn't one now - then it's up to individual makers around Australia to get involved and to work together to make these things happen.
I'm speaking personally, but as someone involved in the JMGA-NSW committee for several years, I feel it would be more than welcomed in NSW (and surely in other state groups) to have more individuals getting involved in what the organisation does and even working on new and exciting directions for it to take. There's plenty of scope for these things to happen - it just needs more makers to get involved.