Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Whitney Smith opened a Pandora's box with her blog post, The Double Edged Sword of Etsy, in which she wrote about how she took action regarding another Etsy hobbyist potter who is copy catting her work. With 35 comments now posted, and a spillover discussion onto the Etsymudteam thread spanning 30 pages, about the only noncontroversial thing to be said is that this is a hot topic with indignation, passion, defensive stances, and lines in the sand. (I made my soapbox stand here, bottom of page, as OneClayBead, if you are interested).
The subtext that causes so much controversy is in how we use the word 'inspiration.' If I say 'I am inspired by Martin Luther King', it means that I want to become as much like him as possible, and we generally think of this as a good thing. I want the things that I do to look like the things that he did, and that, too, is a viewed as a good thing. There is a messy carry-over from this to saying that I am inspired by Whitney Smith, or a particular piece that Whitney made, and so I want to make pieces of pottery just like hers, or so rawly derivative of hers that they are knock-offs.
To think like this is to interfere with a process of unfolding that takes place within every artist if you let it. There is a source inside you that drives you to create, to make something, to rearrange pencils on a table even, until they are just right, and the whole thrill and payoff from being an artist is to let that unfolding happen. Pottery is only fun when I'm lost in becoming myself.
This iris ^ may look somewhat like the one next to it when it reveals itself down to the anther hidden within, but the beauty and splendor of nature are in infinite variables, of an evolution from one generation or season to the next.
There was a time period of 2 years when I cancelled subscriptions to pottery mags, and refused to let my eyes linger on other artist's work. It is when my unfolding began.