art theft?

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Blog entry by michelletwo posted 05-08-2010 12:16 PM 10190 reads 0 times favorited 72 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently posted an emotional/personal “sculpture” entitled Self Portrait Of The Artist As An Old Person. It is an attempt by me to express disability/poverty/pain/ insecurity/ dissassociation/living in an able bodied world. I made it from my favorite medium: wood. I got many comments and appreciate all of the folks who did so. But I received no comment at all from one fella, but 2 days later he posted a copy of my art. He was kind enough to say he copied from me, and I appreciate that he “Manned up”, but I feel violated and said so on his posting. Are there other artists here on LJ, that understand this? What would be the appropriate way to view other’s ideas and inject them into our own work? Should we go to the artist and post and say we like it very much and could we copy it? Would that be polite? Should we be so blatant in our reproductions? Or should we have to do interpretive changes for our own work? Let me know what ya’ll think on this.

72 comments so far

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 4345 days

#1 posted 05-08-2010 12:40 PM

I, for one, would have posted a comment to you, first, asking for your permission. Although, I do look at this and think to myself, maybe that was his way of showering you with compliments.

Some people just think differently that others, so we must, in my opinion, give some level of grace. He said it was yours, gave you the credit, so maybe that was his way.

I will say, though, I would probably feel as you did, were I in your shoes.

--, Making design and application one. †

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4586 days

#2 posted 05-08-2010 01:08 PM

As the saying goes,
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery !!
Unless it is trademarked or a patented design,
although violating, there is nothing one can do to prevent copying.
Your piece is the original, and was credited as so.
There are lots of artists who paint Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s work,
but the true masterpiece remains the original work.
You are the Master of this piece and it stands as the original.
I do understand how you feel, I have been there myself.
I only hope that this will allow you to feel authenticated.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View 's profile

593 posts in 5263 days

#3 posted 05-08-2010 01:18 PM

I’m sorry that you feel so insulted, michelletwo but I have to agree with notottoman.

I don’t know whether you are seeking approval or pity with your post but I think you got the Internet all wrong.

Anything you post anywhere becomes automatically public domain in the sense that it can be freely copied or imitated—with varying degrees of success—for personal use. It’s exactly the same as if you had this sculpture on your front yard and somebody passing by decided to make one for himself. You couldn’t deny his right to do so because by the act of exposing it in public you are giving up the privacy of the object.

Now, if the person making the copy pretends to sell it, that could be matter of legal discussion but still, you’d have to prove the originality of the concept and that is not an easy thing to do. Without wanting to take any merit from your art, it’s a fairy simple idea and, what makes you think that you are the first in the world to have tackled it?

Of course, morally, I am of the opinion that the other poster did the right thing in acknowledging your credit for the original project. This is how it should be done.

I know I’ll never publish many of my concepts/creations online but, if I do, I am sure somebody, somewhere, will copy or “steal” them. It’s only natural.

My advice is that if that piece means so much to you you should remove it from the site (and still, it will live in Google more or less forever). The same goes for the posts we make. Words are cheap but people tend to forget that anything posted online never goes away completely. Ever.

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4306 days

#4 posted 05-08-2010 01:45 PM

Let’s not go places I’m not discussing. I am asking, what here at LJ should we do about this age old question? Will we be compassionate, thoughtful, and appreciative of other’s work? Or will we just take say, heck, you posted it idiot, what did you think we’d do with it? Will we be well mannered forum folks, or will we operate on the dog eat dog, method? It matters to all of us. Having a supportive, polite forum is a joy to visit and a joy to interact with others. It’s your vote obviously. I’m just one person who believes thoughtfulness of others is a good trait to display in my interactions in life.

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4367 days

#5 posted 05-08-2010 01:54 PM

I am a little confused about the whole deal personally. IMO unless he came over to your home, stole the original piece you created, then came home and posted it up here on LJ as his….. Then and only then would I say he stole your art. I am by no means trying to be a stick in the mud on this and I understand you are taken back by it…. But really… Make a big deal about it on his project page (the one he created) then write a blog about it? I honestly don’t get it….

I have been around art most my life. I am new to woodworking so I really cant make to many assessments about it, but one thing I do know….. People have been around for a longgggg time. There is almost nothing we can build, create, write, sing, or what ever that has not been done before in some way shape or form. We all take what we see and our interpretation of it and go from there. To be totally honest… I am almost confident I have seen your “Original” art work before in the past (or something extremely similar). I thought you where copying it from someone else. It does not take away what it means to you though.

I guess what I am trying to say is your work is your work. That piece you can touch with your hands created by your hands is your art….. Someone making something similar…. Is not your art…


-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View MShort's profile


1798 posts in 4709 days

#6 posted 05-08-2010 01:58 PM

MichelleTwo— I agree and disagree on many levels here and feel that I should comment. Let me preface this comment that it is not to take sides or inflame but to share and opinion. Thanks.

I personally come to the lumberjocks site to visit, share and learn from other woodworkers, turners, artist. I believe that is a foundation of what the site was created for. It is a public domain and many things do get copied as the internet is typically known not just for commercial sales but also as a large learning tools. Many of us (me included) are inspired by many of the people here and like what they do and would like to advance our skills trying what others do. Can you imagine if there were only one microwave, one blender, one of anything we would not have choices. One car … a car is a car but they change features. If you look at Phenix’s work and your work, yes he did copy but yet he did make some minor changes. So should a person not ever make another jewelry box, because a box is a box?

I understand that you have gone through many personal challenges in life and this art work was personal to you. With that much strong feelings about the work I might have considered keeping it to myself and not putting it to a public domain or maybe try taking it to an art gallery where artwork is more recognized for artwork.

I am in a local turning club and constanly share and imitate to learn. We have a great group for helping each other.

I think that with the pain it sounds that you have had that you may see the negative before a positive.

I personally think that you should see the copy of this as very much positive that this person saw your work as so inspirational that he did copy you and you should be very flattered by that. I would only hope that I get good enough someday that someone would want to copy me. That would make me feel great.

I don’t think that Phenix made any disrespect.

I know that words here may not mean squat to you but I hope it make pause and you will see some positive in this as I think that it will make you feel better in life if you start looking for some positive.

Truely, no disrespect from me to you or Phenix.


-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View Broda's profile


313 posts in 4810 days

#7 posted 05-08-2010 01:59 PM

This has happened to me before, so I know what it’s like
but the poster clearly credited me for the idea and actually commented on my post and said that they were going to have a crack at one
as long as they aknowledge the original source, I think its fine to immitate someone else’s work, provided they havn’t specifically asked for it not to be copied or if its patended or copyrighted.

If it was me, i would have notified the original poster before posting and asked for their consent

-- BRODY. NSW AUSTRALIA -arguments with turnings are rarely productive-

View Eli's profile


142 posts in 4297 days

#8 posted 05-08-2010 02:01 PM

As you’ve already seen, the “lumberjocks” tend to be apathetic or complacent on this. This was discussed to some extent recently: I tried to expand the conversation to design and I got the impression that few here are are interested in that protection. The most common argument is a slippery slope: “I’ll have to give credit for building any table because I saw a table.” That type of thing. I’d rather not post my personal designs here. I hate having to be like that, because I’m very into sharing information and ideas. I’d just rather post somewhere I feel my work was given more respect. Ugh. I sound like an ass.

If there are others who support the idea, they are staying quiet on the issue. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. It’s just part of the culture of the site.


View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4306 days

#9 posted 05-08-2010 02:07 PM

No Eli you do not sound like an ass. Mr. S asked on his posting why he had never thought of making what I made..I explained why he could not. It was my life in the art..not his life. That was all I was trying to tell him. I have decided never to post art here again & said so earlier. I do frequent more “arty” sites and people there respect each other & their art. They do get it.

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 4958 days

#10 posted 05-08-2010 02:13 PM

It really boils down to the perception of what “art” is. To you, your piece is a work of art. This is because you have attached personal emotion to it. To others it looks like something cool that they can make and display in their home. For the one person who posted his “interpretation” of what your piece was, there are probably 10 who have one going in their shop right now. This is not an art forum even though there are a number of works on it. This is a woodworking forum, most members look at the projects for ideas and examples of things they have the ability to craft. Post something that 9 out of 10 woodworks can recreate in an evening and you can bet its going to be recreated.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Brian's profile


6 posts in 4378 days

#11 posted 05-08-2010 02:46 PM

My 2 cents, what exactly was stolen? You can not steal ideas. This is a bizarre product of the IP world that ideas can be owned and they can not. You really have two options, share your ideas and incorporate other ideas into your work or do not share.

There is a huge world of people who spend their whole careers making “reproductions” of original furniture. I do not think they are stealing any more than this individual did from you.

View Porosky's profile


619 posts in 4655 days

#12 posted 05-08-2010 02:47 PM

Michelletwo I have to say I was under the impression on Lumberjocks we share work and ideas. I think you are over reacting a bit. I have graciously copied many projects here and will continue to do so. Also the two pieces in question are quite different.

I do not think your art life soul was stolen merely re-interrupted through the art soul of another being in the same space time continuum we are existing in together, it seems both of your arty balloon string life tethers have intertwined and now have shared some form of kef having made space art love near or on the 45th level of Gan.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2859 posts in 4883 days

#13 posted 05-08-2010 03:11 PM

Hi Michelletwo,

I think the theft is from Poland. He might not understand anything unless it’s in Poland. You could always write him a Pollock joke. lol

Your work is beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4367 days

#14 posted 05-08-2010 03:24 PM

I may be mistaken (I often am) but it looks to me it was not an “Exact” copy. I know I really should keep out of this, but I think creating this witch hunt is not good form here on LJ. One of the big things about this site is the massive amount of support, respect, shared knowledge, and (the big one) “No Drama”

Here we are entertaining someone getting their feelings hurt because they think they are the only one that has come up with a certain idea. I honestly am 100% convinced I have seen a version of “Self Portrait” years ago. So in my eyes… Self Portrait is a version of someone else’s work that has been created before.

We come to this site to share….. Share ideas, projects, experiences, etc…. Why would we get upset when someone uses that shared knowledge? Just my 2 cents worth….. I will try to keep my nose out of this down the road….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5605 days

#15 posted 05-08-2010 03:37 PM

Nobody ever stole my designs….they just must not be that good. In crafts we do make exact copies and call it tradition, but in art it is a forgery. Congratulations on actually touching someones spirit. That is very rare in this disassociated society.

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