I’ve been thinking about the style of my clay art recently. One of the biggest compliments I receive is when someone sees one of my pieces and immediately recognizes that it was made by me. It has taken me years of practice to get to this stage and find my own creative voice in clay.
This past week, a pottery group I belong to has been discussing how social media has impacted copying and whether that is a good or bad thing. Some of the questions that have arisen include: "Does an artist want their work to be copied from Internet postings and then sold?" "Is it okay for an artist to copy another’s work and sell it?" This discussion has been another way to look at the origins of my own clay art and the creativity behind it.
When I was first introduced to the Pinterest App, I was obsessed. I love looking at pottery postings and felt I was introduced to new work that I never would have been exposed to before. It upgraded the inspirational hard copy scrapbooks with magazine tear-outs I had previously created to an on-line version.
In order to make art, it's necessary to gain certain skills. Copying those techniques and universal shapes over and over is necessary and allows a serious artist the opportunity to begin to experiment and tweak and develop their own voice. Confidence builds with each success and every failure.
When I’ve taught a workshop or class, I’ve noticed that even when every student copies what I’ve demonstrated, none of them looks exactly like mine. They can’t. They may look similar, but not exactly the same. Each person brings their own touch to the clay.
I like looking at social media to see what other potters are making. It does spark ideas for my own interpretation. Is that a form of copying? I think the answer is probably yes -- in a way. For me, social media is one of the tools I use to promote my own ideas and seek out what other artists are creating. It has opened up an entire world of discovery and I think that is a good thing. I don't like or want to have my own clay art copied exactly and then sold by someone else. That does not seem right, but if I can influence another artist to think outside of their own creative box, it's a good thing. That's how we all grow.
I look at originality as a building block. My creativity is shaped by all I have learned and seen in classes and on-line. I’m turning those ideas into something someone else can look at, recognize and say – “That’s ClayByLaura.”