Inspiration vs. Imitation

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Original Post

This is something that I have been wrestling with for a while. Where is the line between inspiration and imitation. For example, I'll see a card and be inspired to create a card using the same technique. I invaribly use different paper and colors and add my own spin, but there are going to be similarities. Is what I did copying?

I'm in Washington D.C. right now. I was so inspired at the Museum of Natural History. I sketched some of the patterns I saw in ancient clothing, pottery, paintings, ect. I sketched pieces of the whole. Just the parts that really grabbed me. I want to use these patterns as starting points for my pen & ink creations. Is this considered copying or inspiration?

I know that through the creative process my works take on a life of their own. Is it wrong to use the work of others as an inpiration? What do you think?

P.S. Please understand that most of what I do comes directly out of my crazy head. Sometimes, though, I need a jump start.

Posted at 12:35pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT


I consider this inspiration. The first thing they taught me in Art school was that everything has already been done. Your job is to do it again with your twist.

Posted at 12:38pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

mando2 says

I am inspired all the time KJ, they teach you in school....THERES NO NEW IDEAS.

its your own spin that works.

Posted at 12:38pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

thefrogbag says


I love that museum! It is very inspiring.

Posted at 12:39pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

I'd definitely call that inspiration. Museums are my favorite places to go when I need to recharge my batteries and spark some creative juices.

Posted at 12:40pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

Ravyncrow says

The following is just my opinion and not to be taken as "the way it is" ... (standard disclaimer there hehe)

To me, if you take note, sketch for later, or in other ways make some kind of detailed or rough "remembrance" to use later, and don't make SIGNIFICANT changes in the final product (not just different paper or colors, for example) it's imitation.

If you see something and think it's cool but rely solely on your memory of it, or your recollection of a number of different items like it, and then create your own, it's inspiration.

Neither one is what I would call actually copying ... to me that implies actually ... well, copying. LOL

Hope that makes sense. I'm at work and it's Friday and raining

Posted at 12:40pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

Being inspired by great works of art and the creativity of others is a time honored tradition, acceptable for hundreds of years now, and probably much longer than that.

Go for it and good luck!

Posted at 12:43pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

Very well said, Ravyncrow!

Posted at 12:43pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

MillieFern says

inspiration, definitely. :)

Posted at 12:45pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT

That's inspiration :) the western cultures area has some awesom pieces of textile and jewelry---I volunteer there :)

I went to the met last week, and took pictures EVERYWHERE, because of all of the beautiful things around me :)

Posted at 12:46pm Jun 13, 2008 EDT