There has been a lot of discussion about copying over the last few months on the forums at Folksy. This has been an ongoing problem for artists/makers and some examples have been highlighted in the press, where large companies have copied the artwork of independent designers and sold the copies all over the world.
I'm sure we all love to see the work of other artists and take inspiration from it. A while back I went to a gallery with a friend and my first instinct when starting to look around was 'I should just give up now, I can never make work this good'. I managed to squash this and realise I can take inspiration from other people's beautiful work - it's not about competing and it doesn't mean you want to copy them either.
I found a wonderful blog post about this subject today. I get a daily email from Polymer Clay Daily. This is a lovely website, run by Cynthia Tinapple, herself a great polymer clay artist. Today she directed us to Luann Udell's website. Her post, entitled 'What is the story only you can tell?' says it all in a way I never could articulate. Please take the time to go and read this. Read all the comments too, they are very interesting.
You don't have to work with polymer clay to relate to this, it is true for any artist/craftsperson/artisan/maker or what ever you like to call yourself.
We can all help one another by sharing skills and techniques but ultimately we need to develop our own styles, find our own stories.