Monday, October 8, 2012

Creative Ethics

I have been battling to write a blog post today.   Sometimes it happens, even for someone who writes all the time and easily as I do.  Sometimes creative juices just stop flowing as words. 

I have, however, been really trying to expand my line, with fits and bursts of inspiration, muddled down with and internal dialogue that screams at every turn: "Do your homework," and "Get the house clean."  and worse yet: "How on earth are you going to fit your husband into your room when the Army finally lets him move home, now that you set up the studio in your room for comfort and ease."

Yes, my mind really does rage like that all the time.  It's hard to keep it quiet.

Now when it comes to the title of this post, I am certain you readers are like:  "What the heck is she talking about?"

No, I am not saying be creative in your ethics, I am saying, be ethical in your creativity.

My dear friend asked me about this today, she phrased it as something like: "How would you feel if someone took a piece of your jewelry and redesigned it to how they thought it should look. 

Interesting.  I am not opposed to taking apart "vintage" jewelry and redesigning it myself.  Heck, I have been known to do so even on commission, quite a few times.  And, I am certain we have all considered taking that hand me down diamond wedding ring and resetting it to suit our modern desires.

But where do we as creative individuals draw the line?  We know not to steal other designer's or srtist's ideas, and especially not to undercut them in a process somewhat similar.  But when it comes to design, when you are like me and you go for the heirloom, everlasting look and appeal -- where is it my design or public domain?  Is it in the number of wraps?  The stones I choose?   Where do I ethically say:  No, this is wholly my design and my personality and artistry are shown here?

Another dear friend of mine, from way back also, recently asked me to come up with something for his wife for the holidays.  I wanted it to be more modern, and special and unique for her.   I played around with a design, with stones I will not be using for her piece for the holidays and came up with this:

Amethyst Big Hoop Earrings by Maggie's Jewelry
There are certainly similar designs out there, but none that I have found are quite like this.  Now, what if my first dear friend had purchased these and reassembled them to say, be a mix of copper and amethyst?  Or maybe she moved the small amethyst and put them all together and dangled the briolette from the center sort of asymmetrically?

Is that ethically okay?  Can she argue that it's not my design she took apart, but just the raw materials, in order to make something really her style?    If my design as a designer is scrapped -- and that work I put into it is changed, because someone thinks they can do better, is that really okay?

I honestly don't know.

Let's look at this from another perspective.  Take a photograph I took of some of my jewelry, something I worked exceptionally hard on, because right now I am really trying to add interest by playing with bokeh in my jewelry photography.

See at the bottom of my picture where the watermark says "Maggie's Jewelry"?  Now--is it okay for another photographer to take that picture and re-edit it because they think it would look better more saturated?  I mean it's not copyrighted through any copyright offices, right?  It's just watermarked through my downloaded trial version of Adobe Lightroom.
Suppose for instance they thought what's above was more artistic, or a better rendering in the creative process of my photo?  Granted I am sure no one would go to that extreme (I added all the saturation, clarity, luminance I could on lightroom, just to make a dramatic change), but still, where would the line be drawn?

I am sure there are some thoughts out there on this subject, please respond in the comments...


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