Imitation isn’t an art form! Plagiarism or divine inspiration?

Charles Caleb Colton said that “Imitation is the most form of flattery” in his book “Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words: Addressed to those who think” back in 1824. So which is it?

Plagiarism or divine inspiration? Among artists of all feathers, be they writers, painters, architects, or jewelry, graphic and other designers, copyright remains the most discussed and highly contested to this very day. In classic painting, music, and sculpting – taking inspiration from the old masters was indeed seen as a tribute.

However, modern-day society tends to hold more obstructed views on the matter. Mind you; we’re not talking about blatant forgeries or existing works here. Something that’s undoubtedly a criminal offense punishable by law in the American constitution just before Colton’s time.

There are many gradations in copying another person’s work, so where does one draw the line? To what percentage can an original be duplicated before it becomes an infringement? Should we merely compare the physical aspects of the contested work to its apparent original? What about the potential loss of income that is suffered by the initial designers? In times of social media and universal access to online catalogs and picture collections, it’s hard not to be inspired.

In recent events and media coverage, we have seen a surge of complaints from NGOs geared towards bigger fashion houses. They are shamelessly copying ethnic minority designs and patterns from around the globe, without giving credit where due.

Question your motifs.

But should a lack of personal contact and prior consent be taken into consideration – excluding any direct master and apprentice relationship of course? We say yes, for the apparent reason that there is no artistry in blatant copying. At Metiisto Fashion, we believe in working along with the principles of fair trade and honest, sustainable business practices. There’s a lot more to say about all of these matters. What remains is that innovation and inspiration always come at a price, where the least one could do is crediting their sources.

Just like any other fashion, jewelry design knows its trends. Materials come in and out of style with every major gift season holiday, keeping the market flush with the latest and the newest, perhaps unnecessarily so. I believe there is timelessness in design which deserves honoring. The classics serve as a template transcending innovation. We are talking about more than just basic aesthetic principles. Whether we consider modernist or rustic influences, using specific materials to reinvent a style long gone, beauty remains beauty, and not only in the beholder’s eye.