I just finished this great little book by Austin Kleon called How To Steal Like An Artist. This little read will put aside any worries you might have about someone copying your work or you copying another artist. In fact, copying is the way we learn. We all learned to write by copying, yet everyone has a unique handwriting style. When learning a skill, it is important to copy at first. Check out as many books as possible, copy pictures from the internet, look at other people's works and try to figure out how they made it. "Art is Theft" according to Picasso, so steal from as many artists as you can. If you are like most creative people , you will bore with imitating other people's work and will very shortly develop your own style. Transforming others work into something that is truly your own is how you add to the world. Thanks Kleon for that wonderful thought.
While there are many insights and great tips in this book, I also really like the chapter "The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it with People." Kleon recommends sharing tips with other people which I totally respect. I love it when I talk to other vendors at shows and they give me a tip. I have a friend who has been a silver smith for thirty years, is amazingly talented and she is a valuable resource to me. One afternoon, she was lamenting about having to polish up all this jewelry for a show. Turns out she didn't know about using a rock tumbler with stainless steel shot to polish her silver. I told her about it and was able to save her hours. I learned the tumbler technique for my work with Art Clay and I use the thing constantly. I sometimes tumble items instead of filing them because it works and filing is not my forte'. This also frees me up to work on something else.
The insights in this little book are many so you really should check it out. Read it, collect ideas, and then go make stuff.