Lots of discussion lately among quilt artists on originality and the use of photos, copyright, inspired-by, copy-as-learning… and I’ve read some and skimmed over some of it. I think original means really original, but I think most of us have used many and varied learning methods as we made our way in our artistic endeavors.

My story is one of circularity! I saw a picture of a quilt (which I no longer have) which inspired me to make a painting, which is an obvious look alike, at least to me. That painting is now going to be the inspiration for a challenge quilt that I plan to make, on the theme of doorways.

Doorway 2

I haven’t started it, yet, and I don’t think it will look a lot like this. The idea of a doorway, or arch is generally easy. I think it’s the colors that I want to work with–both when I did the painting and now.

We are all inspired and affected by everything with which we come into contact. I’m not ever going to make a copy of something and call it my original work, but I will definitely use whatever I see as inspiration and work through it to an original interpretation/abstraction of the idea.

I don’t want to make another version of this exact image…it’s been done. I DO want to convey my impression of an arched doorway with light shining through it, using these colors. Stay tuned as I tackle this concept!

8 thoughts on “Copycatting!

  1. The biggest issue is like what was previously mentioned, you probably won’t be bothered unless your quilt wins an award and someone made a quilt “just like it” years ago. There is one quilt artist that has a reputation for suing anyone making something close to what she has done. As far as I can tell from copyright issues, if you look at the original, and look at your artwork, they have to look different, not just different colors, but enough different that it can’t be considered an exact copy,


    • And the simple way to avoid the problem is to only exhibit original work, with documentation of your process available. That’s one good reason to do a blog–the documentaiton is there. And I dare anyone to duplicate what I do…go ahead…I’m pretty sure it can’t be done!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is interesting to see this conversation going on in the art quilt world, as it has gone on for decades and more in the world of painters. I will tell you this. No one is going to show up at your doorstep to sue you unless you make tons of money when you sell it. So, when my artist friend paid 25.00 for a photo from a photographer, and it was of a cat; I asked her why she did this, as you can go to the internet and find the same picture. She was worried about copyright laws coming after her. I just laughed.


    • Totally agree! It’s one thing to put it out in a public space with lots of publicity…then it had BETTER be your own work. Anything else is just fun among friends. I actually made a copy of a painting from a picture in a book (as close as I could get it!) in fabric for a friend to give to her daughter. I truly did not think the copyright police would come to her house and then come looking for me! You learn by copying and trying ‘in the style of’ and then adapt to what you do! Just don’t call a copy your original design!

      On Sun, Dec 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM, Quirks Ltd. wrote:



  3. Not sure there is any REALLY original. We all take inspiration from others whether we know it or not. There is a hand-quilter who blogs named Tim (sorry I don’t have a link) and a few weeks ago he posted a photo of a current project. I commented that it reminded me of Michael James’ early work. (VERY much so!) He must have looked it up and then agreed but noted he had no intention of doing so. He may not even remember ever seeing MJ’s work before, but almost certainly he has. Also Gwen Marston’s liberation seems to have come after Nancy Crow’s, who was so inspired by Anna Williams’. I have 3 books home from the library now (including Nancy Crow’s) that use non-linear piecing as the primary technique. Certainly their artistic visions are different but even using the technique lends similarities to their work. What is original?

    I think as artists what we must do is lend our own interpretation. Copying can be useful for learning, just as painters copy masters to learn technique. But until those painters are expressing their own vision, they are not really artists.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic. I don’t haunt the quilt artists blogs and sites to any extent and have not seen this discussion.


    • As I age, I seem to say more often that “I’ve seen that before” in many areas! Original is hard to come by, yet it’s what we all strive for. If what we make is somehow reminiscent of the work of another, I’m going to attribute it to the fact that we all are human. Unique is at the heart of all that I do, but I’ve experienced that synchronicity of design/idea/concept before. Some people get very upset by that and make ‘copycat’ accusations…I just think “human” and move on! The exception, of course, is deliberate copyright infringement, trying to profit from and claim the design of another, and that’s a whole other topic!

      On Sun, Dec 7, 2014 at 8:31 AM, Quirks Ltd. wrote:



    • I may end up with the simpler, easy idea for this particular challenge, but I really want to spend some time in depth with this concept before I move on. I’m sure you will come up with something good…you always do!

      On Sun, Dec 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM, Quirks Ltd. wrote:



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