Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wannabes, Copycats & Mimickers

Creature Comforts Blog had a post today about the dilemma of having one's work being copied - copyright infringement, intellectual property... and it was weird because I was just having a conversation with another soap maker this afternoon (who may want to remain nameless).  

There are people who are inspired and use ideas from your sheer talent and then there are copiers. The people who copy and don't then grow and create their own masterpieces are just mimickers and it's really sort of sad. They have no true fulfillment... or bones. We all know who these people are. Those of us who create original beauty in whatever we do - well, our creations may be an inspiration to someone as others have been inspirations to us. We all pull ideas from the world. From people, things, art. I think there is a tiny bit of copying in some of what we do, even without knowing it. Isn't that why we study? To learn? To become better? To gain knowledge?  

I make soap so I look at other soap makers and their beautiful soaps. Do I want my soap to look like theirs so we are twinsies? Nope. Do I wish I could have made something that looked so special? Yup. So perhaps I take whatever aspect of the soap that moved me and tuck it away in my brain for the next creative moment I have during my soapmaking craze and I whip out my own version of it as how it relates to my soap with whatever colors and scent I might be working with. I don't want my soap to look like theirs. I want to see what MY soap looks like with a different aspect intertwined into it.  

As my friend said, the copycats and the wannabes just crank out the same stuff they copy and that's just about it. There really IS no "their stuff". They don't bring anything new to the table. And yes, we all know who they are.

You can comment but no bashing individuals, please.


OOAK babies by Mina said...

great post. It happens in all fields, doesn't it

Anonymous said...

I often see soap, that I think is way cool and beautiful, but my style is my style, and not that it is all that unique, you can find tons of soaps that looks like mine!

But when I see something really cool, I think oh that would be fun to try and make and try it!

Thats not to say I will continue to make that soap! but I dont think there is anything wrong with trying something new!

Anonymous said...

I really like Creature Comforts blog about this. She makes alot of sense! She also said it eloquently and with compassion for the person who was hurt by this.

Kim said...

One of the things I love about having my own soap business is that I get to infuse myself into my line. My passions, my inspirations. I think if someone stole my designs, I would be truly devastated. Because unlike my old day job, I really wear my heart on my sleeve with my soaps. So far, so good, but I rally feel for soapers who get the rug pulled out from underneath them. There is a difference between trying out a new recipe or technique and stealing the presentation outright.

innerearthsoaps said...

I think all artists (soapmakers included) will draw inspiration from others, especially when they first start experimenting with their craft. But a true artist will pull away from this at some point to create their own original work and find their personal style.

eva said...

Hello! I have long been watching your creativity, I like how you arrange the photos and prezentuete your soap! It's wonderful!
I think that we really learn from many of the more experienced ... sometimes I behold beauty created by other artists and inspired, create something of their own, not at all similar.
It should be noted that in our country, Russia, and many needlewomen draw their experience from the experience of skilled workers from other countries where these kinds of crafts have long been there and have some istoriyu.U we all just beginning and we just need their experience to a great uchitsya.Spasibo those hosts master classes, a lot of work!

FuturePrimitive said...

Such a 'tricky' subject.
I have taken inspirations from all over for my soaps, but in the end my inspirations come from my soul and from the things in my life that I love. My surroundings, paint cards for colours, the smell of my grandma (!) etc...
That can never be matched...surely?
If people find it so necessary to copy, those that come up with our own original works have nothing to fear as these people will drop off the wagon eventually. If you are trying to make a business out of your art, and I mean REALLY trying, I think it shows, yanno?
Copiers always get stung.

Edigo said...

I agree with you, we do get inspiration frome other people. The line is adapting it on our own way and not just do a duplicate.

But I often find myself asking the question "am I copying?" whenever I try one of the things I saw to see if I like it in my own way. I am always worried that I copy, because I know how frustrating it can be to be copied (my mom being an painter). So even when I modify what inspires me to make it mine with my touch, I find the line or copy/not copy quite hard to see at times.

Do you feel the same way to sometimes ?

Jennifer said...

At what point though does one consider themselves copied? When another soaper draws inspiration from them? Because then I've been guilty. When I see beautiful color combos and decide to incorporate that into my soap (which we all know never turns out as planned anyway). When I see a swirl technique....or see a video on how to create soap balls? Am I allowed to use it?

Art builds on art. Every year I expect to see more and more beautiful examples of soapmaking, and it helps to keep me fresh in my own soaping ideas and path.

I've been copied before. I've had people outright call me to ask me where I get my supplies and equipment. I live in a very economically depressed area, so to see other soapmakers popping up all over the place with very little experience gives me heart palpitations.

Anonymous said...

When I first started making soap around 2000 I befriended Cheri Marsh, who used to have a website called The Soapmeister. She was very helpful and became my mentor. She even gave me her soap base recipe with the understanding I would vary it and make it my own. There are few professional soapmakers around who would go out on a limb like that for a wannabe entrepreneur. I've been trying to locate her but her site is gone. She opened a soap store somewhere in Washington State several years ago but I don't know if it's still in operation. Anyone who knows what happened and would like to share I would appreciate it. Also, don't ask for her recipe, I will carry that secret to my grave.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We all have to start somewhere.

FooFooBerry said...

I find when I'm watching a video or tutorial to learn a brand new technique it often comes out exactly like the person giving the video. Then when I make it the next time I try and do something different with my own twist to it.

There is someone who often copies my work and yeah it's frustrating but there isn't much I can do but keep my nose down and continue doing what I do.

I'm inspired all the time by other soapers and sometimes get envious at their amazing designs. Then I just look forward to what I can come up with using their inspiration or sometimes coming up with my own original idea.

SoapSister said...

I agree that seeing others' beautiful soap is very inspiring. My soap is not what I would call beautiful, by the way. It's rather plain looking. But it's godd and natural, and it's my baby! I am inspired by others' websites, blogs, etc. as well. However, I think the actual "crossing the line" that happens is sometimes a result of soapers not realizing that their own soaps are unique, and therefore special and valuable.

I recently Googled my company name (Heirloom Soapworks which I have trademarked) only to find a freakishly similar "business" with a partially created website, references to "grandma's recipes" (my Grandma Annie's photo has been on my labels for years; as well as references to my Grandma Mabel's soapmaking stories on my website)
I must say I was quite upset at first. But after "talking myself down" I'm choosing to look at it as "the sincerest form of flattery"
-For now, anyway! :)

Cocobong said...'ve caused quite a stir with your blog entry ;) love it ! I still believe, like I previously wrote in my blog that when two people do the same thing, it's still not the same. It may look similar, it may even look like the original...but in the whole, something will be missing, something will be different or off. And then, if it's meant to be a well kept secret? Don't go public with it. I blog to share and to inspire others. if they choose to be inspired (in the widest sense), wonderful. Then I did my blog job.

Ambra said...

When I started to soap, I began by buying books. Then I Googled a lot and looked at plenty of websites about soaps and soap making.
I studied art and design and a large part of that is to Iook at history and at what others do. That serves as an inspiration to build on. I follow pretty much the same process that I use when I design something as when I make soap. I love to see what others are doing, but I like to make my own soaps, not copy blindly.
I love to share my experiences and recipes, but I completely understand those who don't. I have a problem following my own recipes to letter, much less copy blindly what others do. There are always so many ways that I think of to change, tweak and create :)
I think we all aspire to find out own styles and from what I see, most succeed. I congratulate the collective creativity!

Celine@Soaperstar said...

I love to look at photos of amazing soaps, they are pure art to me.

Do I want to copy them? No... why? Because someone has already done it. I want to create something unique, something that is totally my own.

I want, when someone looks at my soaps, to say "That's a Soaperstar soap isn't it" not think I've ripped off the idea from someone else!

I want to be me, to create something that is mine alone, to show people who I am... copying someone else just doesn't cut it for me.

firefly said...

Exactly! This happens in fashion and commercial retailing too, like the example I posted on my blog.

Joanna said...

you ALL have very valid points. In fact, we are making the same points really. My opinion is that we draw from others and incorporate what we learn and love into our own art.

There are a few who hold their soap making technique so close to themselves that they are so scared of having anyone else draw from them (copy from their paper). I feel bad for those people. You will limit yourself to being local if that is the case. But, yes, copying straight out is yucky. Using it in your own work is creative.

Thank you all for commenting. Thank you for your passion and for being a part of this great community!

The Morbid The Merrier said...

It's a fine line for me, too. When I come across a hurdle (like trying to formulate scents for Spring, which I am NO good at), I will troll websites to see what other people are doing and gain inspiration from that. However, I wouldn't duplicate something someone else was doing. I am UNfortunate enough to have a few people who do very similar products, so I have to be extra-special-careful to stay different than them.


My .02