I Got in Trouble With the Teacher :(

I take lots of classes from many fabulous teachers.  I make videos.  I make art.  I love it all.  I do it all because I love it.  I consider myself an artist, just because I create as often as I can.  Sometimes I love what I make, sometimes not.  It doesn’t matter to me.  What matters is that I’m happy doing it.  I have no desire to make money from anything I create.  If I do, it’s just a bonus.  It’s not something I set out to do.  I do like to PROFIT from my art.  By PROFIT, I mean joy…I get joy from sharing.  I get joy from inspiring (and sometimes teaching) others.  I often assume everyone else feels the same way.  Big mistake.  Where am I going with this?  Let me try to explain.

My life took an unexpected turn last May when I became ill with severe chest and back pain.  The illness and subsequent misdiagnosis, ongoing pain, and frustrating roller coaster of medical investigations and treatments consumed my life.  It took away my joy.  I wasn’t able to participate in activities that I love – including art.  It worsened my clinical depression, affected all my relationships, and prevented me from exercising and playing tennis, too.  It continues to affect me profoundly, but I am trying really, really hard to take my life back, despite the fact that I am far from recovered.  I’m not looking for sympathy here…there’s a reason I’m sharing this.  Stay with me, if you wish…

I have not felt inspired to make art at all, but lately I’ve been forcing myself to get into my studio, even if it’s just for short periods.  When I’m feeling uninspired, I often copy other artists that inspire me.  I have never considered it a problem, because I ALWAYS give credit to the original artist, AND, I am not selling my art, or making a profit in any way from it. I know not everyone agrees with me, but that’s always been my opinion.

Before all this happened, I made Youtube videos, which I also consider creating, and I quite enjoy making them, and sharing them with others.  I like to help other artists by promoting their classes with my videos, and with my blog.  Yesterday, I made a video, a time-lapse video of me creating an art journal spread, as taught by one of my favorite artists.  I gave credit, both within the video itself, and in the description.  I didn’t explain any of the techniques, but I did post the products I used on my blog (I debated even doing that, but figured I would get questions and thought it would be okay).  It took a huge amount of effort on my part – fighting through my ongoing physical pain.  (I even missed watching Gray’s Anatomy!  Don’t worry, though, I PVR’d it…) – BUT IT FELT GOOD.  I was so happy to be making art, and making a video again.  I was excited to post my video, and to inspire the other students by showing “my take” on the teacher’s work.  Although I didn’t really want to, my artwork ended up being quite similar to the teacher’s example.  I wanted to do something different, but, like I said, my creative brain isn’t working very well – so I used different colors, and some different products, but I really loved the teacher’s work, so I wanted to make one like it.  It’s in my journal…I’m not going to sell it. I’m always flattered when people copy my work. (not that it happens that often, lol) –  My intention? – was completely and entirely to inspire others, and to help promote a class that I am enjoying immensely.  I figured any “non-paying” students who viewed my video would want to know more, and may even sign up for the class!  I had no idea anyone would be offended, or that I would “get in trouble with the teacher”.  But, I was politely asked to remove my video, because other paying students had complained that I was giving away something that they had paid for.  The teacher also felt that I had “crossed a line” because my finished project was so similar to hers.  Honestly, I was crushed.  Even though I do (kind of, sort of) understand, it hurt my feelings. (Am I being too sensitive?) I will get over it, obviously, and, in future, I will ask permission before I do anything similar.  It’s weird – I’ve done this exact thing in the past without a problem.  In fact, the exact opposite – the teachers were appreciative of my efforts, and the other students seemed thrilled that I would share my process.  I was told in the past, that I helped to promote classes, and bring new students to them.  I guess this is why I figured it would be fine this time.  Please don’t get me wrong…the teacher did what she had to do, and I know I do believe she felt uncomfortable asking me to remove my video.  I think I’m just taking this way too personally.  *sigh*

So…my video has disappeared.  Yesterday’s blog post has disappeared.  *poof*  Yesterday’s joy didn’t happen.  😦

So…what are your thoughts?  I hope I don’t regret asking for opinions…be kind, please.  I don’t mind hearing opinions that differ from mine…I welcome them.  I just want to hear other perspectives, and see if I’m in the minority here.  I think I am, because so many other artists are making a living from their art.  I TOTALLY GET THAT!  Please understand, that I do get that my situation is much different for that reason.  Does anyone agree with me?


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lara
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 15:25:04



  2. mthimjon
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 16:04:16

    Awe I hear ya! I have been dealing with a few chronic illnesses and it’s no fun!
    It’s a journey let me tell you! Just feel good that you got back in the studio and created something beautiful!


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 27, 2015 @ 17:34:51

      Thank you for your comment. Apparently mine is considered chronic now, too even though it’s only been 10 months. 😦


  3. thisoldmobile
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 16:06:31

    As someone who teaches painting, you might be surprised to find that I agree with you and not your teacher or her covetous students. Imagine being so greedy that you resent skills being given away that you paid for! Is there any of us who has not learned from someone else. Does that mean that every bit of learning we can track back must never be shared forward! How silly. If you did deliberately vary the colours in order not to mimic entirely the teacher, there must be some significant difference between her work and yours. And you did, as you say, credit her. It has always been my impression that if you aren’t selling a work, and if you credit it as ‘after Mr X’ or something to that effect, that it is fair game. Who knows what everyone else thinks. That has been s.o.p. in my world. Art on!


  4. kimmerbe
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 17:38:01

    Thanks for the support, and for your comment! The more I think about it, the more I think about it lol. I did try to change things up as much as possible, but the teacher thought it was almost an exact copy of her work. So, since it was her work, I respected her opinion. The internet IS all about sharing! But, I guess when there’s money involved, everything changes.


  5. mannwielermaggie
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 17:56:46

    I copy so many artists, they’d have a heck of a time catching up with me! I thought that was what it’s all about in the art community, inspiring others. It’s not like you posted her entire class or workshop for cryin out loud, geez, some people…anyway, I don’t remember the post you’re referring to and I’m sorry the teacher didn’t appreciate your efforts. Don’t give it another thought – art on baby!


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 27, 2015 @ 21:13:56

      I do appreciate your support, and I also think the teacher appreciated my efforts. I guess she just felt my video revealed too much. I’m just sad that I can’t post it.


  6. Emily McCrary
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 17:59:34

    I agree with you, I think the teacher should have seen this as a way to promote their course. I know, for me, a class is a huge investment and a text description and a picture or two aren’t enough for me to make the leap. And I’ve yet to see a time lapse video that I’ve been able to actually learn any specific technique from which makes it a great way to show off without giving too much away.

    Try not to let it get you down. You may not have the video or the blog post anymore, but you’ll be able to hold onto the joy you felt when you were creating.


  7. kimmerbe
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 21:16:46

    You hit the nail on the head, Emily! my thoughts exactly. I’m going to try to take your advice, and hold on to that good feeling.


  8. Angie Gladwell
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 21:32:00

    This is my new view of life. Accept it and move on. That other teacher isn’t dealing with the troubles you are so if you enjoyed doing it, accept that it brought you joy and don’t let debbie downer ruin your day, She is not worth it. You are worth it.


  9. lucydragoon
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 22:38:21

    I was really looking forward to seeing your video. I did not have time when I first saw the post and disappointed to not find it when I came back. I have only done one spread in said workshop and I really was really excited to see how another classmate came to make their spread.
    Apparently someone posted one of the teacher’s video’s somewhere (not sure how anyone who was not a member could view it) and that I do not agree with since we are paying for it but I think what you did was encouragement to those not taking the class and possible inspiration for those of us taking the class.
    Some people just like to complain. Many, many years ago a friend and I took a class from a well known instructor. My friend briefly described a few of the things we did and someone complained that she was giving away secrets we paid to learn from the teacher. This teacher was the first to admit that these were not her techniques, she did not invent them she just played with them. My friend was not giving away any secrets. They were all over the internet. Some people are just not happy unless they are complaining so please don’t fret over this. I am sure there were many many more people (from the class) that loved your video. I just wish I had seen it.


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 28, 2015 @ 14:40:16

      Hi Lucy, and thank you for your response. Sorry you missed the video. I did hear about the incident you are talking about. That was unfortunate, and I am sure it played a small part in how the teacher handled my video. People certainly do like to complain, and the internet allows “those people” to spew hateful things anonymously, without any real consequences. And, I know that many would have enjoyed my video, but it’s unfortunate that a few people ruined it for the majority. That happens far too often in life, doesn’t it? Oh well…life goes on. 🙂


      • lucydragoon
        Mar 28, 2015 @ 15:19:21

        Personally I don’t see the difference between posting photos of what a person did with the instructors video and posting the type of video you posted. They are one and the same except one is a still and one is moving.

  10. Fatima
    Mar 28, 2015 @ 00:40:30

    I saw the video yesterday, and enjoyed it very much. I came back today to reply, and found this post, instead. Sorry to hear you’re so crushed about the experience :(.

    I had fun watching you create! I’m sure other viewers caught your video and enjoyed it, too. Not only that, but now that you’ve had a taste for the joy of arting and video-making again (minus the bitter aftertaste…), maybe it’ll inspire you to do it more often. Kindness is never lost Kim, even if you did have to take the video down :).

    I do think it was within the teacher’s right to ask you to remove the video. I’m not part of the class, but I recognized her style and can see how it might give away the process. She also has a ton of her old videos up for free, she’s been generous with teaching in the past, and if paying students felt it was unfair to them, I understand that it would put her in a tough spot.

    Having said that… yes, it was within the teacher’s right to ask you to remove the video, but that doesn’t make it the best move. Like others here commented, it was a process video for just one page, not the whole class, and could have been used for promotion purposes.

    There have been examples where successful artists (singers, comedians, etc.), share their work for free with the option of a donation, or sell a body of work for ridiculously cheap… and they’ve done exceptionally well, financially, through those campaigns. People respond well to acts of generosity. Again, kindness is never lost.

    Sometimes we just get so caught up in the material aspect of counting (how much we’ve paid, what we’re getting in return, etc.), and what’s fair to *us*, what *our* rights are (“I paid for it, others shouldn’t get even a small part of it for free” vs. “I’m so glad I had the resources to pay for it, and that I get to take the whole course”).

    I know it’s hard, I can tell you put a lot into the video, but try not to take it to heart. I hope you’ll continue creating and sharing, Kim, finding the joy in your own life and bringing it to others.


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 28, 2015 @ 14:32:54

      Thank you, Fatima, for taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful way. I’m moving on, and taking what I need from this experience. I am VERY happy to be creating again.


  11. Emie
    Mar 28, 2015 @ 09:13:57

    I teach jewelry classes. I understand both points of view. That said, it’s my understanding that you can’t copyright a technique, but what a person is able to copyright is their written or spoken word. So, IMHO, as long as you didn’t say or post the exact words of this teacher, I don’t see a problem. You were the bigger person in this as you took down the video when she asked. Your intentions were good, that’s important.


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 28, 2015 @ 14:29:13

      Thanks, Emie. I wasn’t concerned about copyright, really, although I do not knowingly EVER violate any copyright laws. I think, legally, I could have left my video up, but, morally, it was the right thing to do, to remove it, as the teacher requested. I really, really love this teacher. I hope my blog post didn’t imply otherwise.


  12. Angela Pearce
    Mar 28, 2015 @ 11:43:57

    I am a paid member of the class you are talking about, and saw a post by one of the students complaining about your video and that it was out there for others to copy who had not paid for the class. I did not see your video, as you have removed it.
    It’s a tricky one, on one hand we have paid for a class and you releasing a video showing the process is not fair to us paying members. But you have also paid for the class, so if you reproduce that class as your own work, you have a right to display it? There is a facebook group where we display our art. Perhaps it would have been better not to have said you got the idea from the class and no one would have been any the wiser?


    • kimmerbe
      Mar 28, 2015 @ 14:25:42

      Thank you for your thoughts, Angela. I do get what you’re saying, but I didn’t release the video as “my own”. I clearly indicated that it was based on Donna’s class, and I posted links to her website, both within the video itself, and in the description. I wouldn’t even consider trying to claim the ideas as mine, although, you are right, if I had done that, it’s probably true that no one would have known. That’s just not how I roll. Like I said, my intent was to promote Donna’s class, and to give the paid students an opportunity to see another artist’s interpretation of the class. It was a sped-up, in progress video with music – no subtitles or voice-over describing the products or the techniques. I still think it was okay, but others disagreed, so I respected those opinions, and deleted the video.


  13. justlyd
    Apr 01, 2015 @ 23:49:04

    I side with you here,if anything watching your video would probably direct people to that class-which you had links to! Stick in there though,I’m sorry to have missed this video(I’ve been out of the blogging/vlogging loop) but hope to see new ones! 🙂


  14. Victoria Bolton
    May 17, 2015 @ 14:04:42

    I got into trouble with a teacher, too, so I completely sympathize with you.
    My little blog post could have been a great advertisement for this teacher, but she asked me to take it down. I did, and it was bothering me for awhile, until I realized she was insecure in herself, her process, and her career. Now I just feel a bit sorry for her.
    Keep up this wonderful blog, please! I just stumbled across it today, and will be adding it to my Feedly feed.
    Hugs to you, and I hope you find joy every day.


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