Wednesday, December 10, 2003

a word about originality and creativity
as you're working on designs to submit to Knitty, here's something to think about. there seems to be a misconception running about the internet. people seem to think that a design can only exist in one form in publication.

that is absolutely incorrect, from both a legal and moral standpoint.

to get some perspective, i wrote to a respected, well-known friend in the knitting publishing world and asked for her take on this issue. she had a lot to say, which i'll summarize, with her permission, below.

it is NOT common practice for knitting publications to seek out another instance of a design that's submitted for publication. they have neither time nor need to do so. knitting magazines request original designs and the onus is on the designer to assure the publication that their design is their own work. not that it's the only version of a particular item in existence.

read this again: it must be their own work. that's all.

are you considering googling for similar designs before you submit to knitty? don't do it. that is a waste of your time and energy. the most eloquent portion of my friend's message to me: "I think if someone comes up with a design, they're obligated to themselves to do it. To carry it out in their own way. Why should they look to see if someone else beat them to the punch? That takes all the joy out of personal and artistic discovery. Beauty, in the broadest sense, is more important, I think, than originality. And originality, if you can ever really and truly find it, isn't necessarily beautiful in any sense."

i understand that it can be frustrating to see a similar design to one you've created published somewhere else. but it is the nature of the business, and of the creative process, that this will happen.

the most essential thing to realize is this: if that person's pattern is not virtually identical to yours [and that means in terms of the pattern's language, construction methods and techniques, not just how it looks as a finished item], and you have no proof that the other designer actually accessed and copied your design, you must accept it graciously.

as knitters, we learn from each other. we see things, we get ideas and we try to do it our own way. and that is just fine.