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Silence Is Not An Option December 14, 2016

Posted by Orly in Uncategorized.

image-postI’ve been sitting in ‘this’ for far too long, allowing it to make me feel small and then smaller. It’s time for it to come out. It’s about a thought that our mindsets, behaviors, attitudes which perhaps many years ago would have been considered dishonest had now become ‘normal’, blatantly justified, and completely OKAY. Behaviors that unfortunately are no longer questioned in the present time.

What we once called plagiarism, we now freely call inspiration, not discerning between the two. Yes, harsh. For someone who keeps advocating the notion that silence is not an option, it is remarkable how silent I’ve become. I could have tolerated that silence a bit longer if I haven’t witnessed more of that coming from others over the exact same tender matter.

I’ve decided that what I see happening more and more is not right by me and is not right for any of us. Generally speaking it’s not okay for people who hurt others to go forth uninterrupted and for those who are hurt to go forth, hushed. Yes, we are most certainly here to promote ideas of reciprocal inspiration, interconnectedness, love, unity, and all that good stuff. Sometimes we keep quiet to not disturb these ideas, but by doing so we achieve the opposite. By doing so we achieve divisiveness, isolation, animosity, and painful distances between humans.

It is truly so incredibly beautiful that with the widespread use of the Internet and Social Media our personal worlds and our visual expressions have opened up so vastly. Abundance of ideas, approaches to the visual language, techniques, and materials are so readily available, easily accessible to all of us at any time, anywhere. These are phenomenal sources we can use for our personal AND our collective well being or we can also abuse in the expense of individuals’ well being.

With the surge of endless possibilities: physical workshops, art retreats, E-courses, instructional books, videos, etc., we have gradually grown to be almost solely dependent on outside stimulation, instant pleasure, and quick means for the advancement of our personal, creative, and business paths. We have forgotten to go IN, put in the time, blood, sweat, and tears, into our processes and practices. We fail to engage our own stories and recall our innate capabilities to grow from the inside out.

And with these attitudes our sense of entitlement has grown unabashed. Unintentionally and unnoticeably we have developed inconsiderate and insensitive behaviors that dismiss and ignore those who express the hurt of having to be prematurely innovative again, abandon a course of action, a very specific, complex creative direction they’ve been working on for a long time because someone else just grabbed it for themselves and is now fully adapting it to fulfill their own dire needs, whatever they me be.

It’s not okay at all to take what you learned, what was shared with you by one person, to not discern, not process, not involve other sources of inspiration, and use it as it is, call it your own, make what she makes, exhibit it, teach what she teaches, have it printed in magazines and books, make money off of it. I am not talking about singular techniques like image transfer, eco dyeing, techniques that have been used for decades if not centuries, or the use of materials like carbon paper or newer inventions like clear gesso and distressed inks.

I am talking about a series of processes and combinations of materials that make for a very specific, profound, and personal and unique expression that you can’t just take.  These derive from one’s very own experiential pool. That pool is expansive, that river is long and tremendous, that source is visceral and deep rooted. It comes only from that one person and is not transferable or up for grabs. The hurt that comes from that happening is indescribable.

That hurt is real, so the dismissal of it just deepens the hurt. It makes you not want to create anything any more, cause what’s the point. It makes you not want to share anything, cause it’s just not safe. It makes you want to crawl back into that dark space where you once dwelled, long before you decided to end your screaming loneliness and open up your heart. It makes you silent, once again, wiping out all the work you’ve done to help yourself and others feel that we are here for each other.

It makes you want to make a swift irrational decision to give it all up. I am bringing it up today as another dear friend of mine expressed to me the sudden deep sadness and despair she felt when realizing that someone took her hard work and the originality of her spirit and her one of a kind soul and made it all their own in one fell swoop. I am realizing more and more that this is not only my problem. And I am breaking my long silence, not just for me, but for you too.

It is OUR problem! Keeping silent has severe consequences for me, for us, in our small community, and for all children, women and men in the world. Today more than ever. Silence was and is to blame for many injustices and occurrences since the beginning of time and every where. I am not going to be silent. I am not going to be blamed for causing division by merely expressing injustice, pointing out challenges we face, and pointing fingers to the ones who actually caused the division in the first place. I am not going to sweep even crumbs under the rug.

So please people, let’s not hurt each other. Let’s obtain many many sources of inspiration and use them as fragments of our visual language. But mostly let’s go inward, stay there most of the time, cause this is where the good stuff is, deep deep in the spaces occupied between the roots, reserved only for you. Rely on yourselves as ultimately you are the source of the greatest inspirations. Trust yourself, be gentle and be patient. Find peace within your body.

That peace can not be found in the noise outside your body. And if you are overwhelmed and have doubts about the use of sources outside of you, examine these, and listen to your findings. In the end, no one really intends to cause such harm on any one else. We mostly cause it to ourselves and to others when we deny, dismiss, ignore, and perpetuate. If someone actually expresses to you that you have hurt them this way, you are super lucky. You have the great opportunity of not having to guess. Respect, acknowledge, be loving.


1. Vanessa kiki - December 14, 2016

Thank you … big time ….Xoxoxox

2. Merry Cox - December 14, 2016


3. Jeanette - December 14, 2016

Marvellous post, Orly. I commented on Instagram but also wanted to respond here to this portion from your last paragraph: “In the end, no one really intends to cause such harm on any one else.” Sadly, I think there are clear instances when there is intent; very deliberate, deceitful and manipulative intent. For me, that’s what makes such actions utterly unforgivable.

4. shirley - December 15, 2016

I don’t feel the same. If I don’t want my methods copied I just don’t share. If I put myself out there then I know other will try my method. Everyone in the business world copies or tries to improve on another persons success. I would think their would be plenty of room for everyone to make a living.

Kristina - December 19, 2016

Shirley, there should be plenty of room, yes. But the room needs to be based on the understanding that you don’t just outright steal someone’s work wholesale.

Inspiration and theft are very, very different. Inspiration in art is taking a color, an idea for a material, an image that touches you, or a method you learned, and then making it your own. Theft is just that – wholesale taking of another artist’s process, and only using that.

For instance, if anyone just tried to outright copy and produce the iPhone, that’s theft and they’d be sued back to the stone age. However, the idea of the smartphone, that brilliant idea, opens things up to millions of possibilities and innovations.

So it is with art. No one should be afraid to put themselves out there as a teacher, and just assume “Welp, someone’s going to just steal this outright and start selling things that look exactly like mine and/or start teaching my exact class”. We’d have no art teachers, if that were the case.

We all learn from teachers. I use methods I’ve learned both online and in person in my work. And while I practice what I learn, my end product may end up looking like the teacher’s for awhile. But, once I really learn it, I can move on and perhaps incorporate it, or improve upon it, or just use bits and pieces of what I learned, or discard it completely. In other words, there’s plenty of room for me to make things my own. But I would never, in a million years, try to say “This is my process”, and then sell it. Because that’s stealing.

In Orly’s case, this wasn’t a person who ended up with a product that looked like Orly’s. This was someone who stole her class, wholesale, and started teaching it as her own. She’s also someone who doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong.

That’s why this is theft.

5. Linda - December 15, 2016

Teachers and workshops need to start including a statement that anyone caught using workshop techniques as their own for profit will be sued for all profits derived from unauthorized use of that material. And it needs to be restated in the introduction of the class for those people who refuse to read terms and conditions. It may sound harsh to some but it represents a livelihood to the teachers.

Helen - December 26, 2016

Techniques can be taught, they cannot be copyrighted – but the class notes can.
Why bother to take a class and learn a technique if you cannot then use it to improve your own work. Follow this line and you will render all Art Classes in schools, universities and studios worthless.

jacqueline Thomson - December 27, 2016

Surely though, a workshop is designed purely for the sake of teaching that technique: if it cannot be carried away, and used imaginatively by those attending, then there would be no point in going to a workshop in the first place.

6. Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd - December 15, 2016

This is an incredible first step: initiating a dialogue. it is so important. I love you for being so brave.

7. jakoziol - December 15, 2016

“We fail to engage our own stories and recall our innate capabilities to grow from the inside out.” I love these words because anything less is just a fraud to ourselves which is really a tragedy to the world.

8. Brenda Pinnick - December 15, 2016

A wonderful post and so needed. I see so much of this behavior on social media and it is indeed being normalized. I feel sad when I see beginners feel the need for instant validation and recognition. An artist cannot possibly have their own visual voice without putting in the necessary work. And by work, I mean hours and hours of failed attempts. I’m a painter and in 5 years, have painted well over 500 paintings. I just now feel certain my voice is authentic, finally. The social media platform has become our best friend and our worst enemy in this regard. If you’re going to be an artist, BE AN ARTIST. (Shouting not intended, just emphasis)

9. bevlangby - December 15, 2016

I do agree with you ….what Shirley said is true but I feel we should take inspiration from teachers not blatantly copy their style and make it our own…what Linda said is just not doable once something is out there it’s open slather…I just wish more people would make a stand by naming and shaming why are we so scared to stand up and defend ourselves …I know who has or has not opted to use your style and I think it’s wrong along with many others who admire your work , I applaud your post but don’t think it achieves anything sadly…..

10. Marylyn Barnett - December 15, 2016

Orly: I wholeheartedly agree with you on this point. It is become necessary to copy write, legally and formally, your work. I agree with an earlier posted comment that artists may now need to have a disclaimer regarding unauthorized use of an artist’s work. Orly, you need not stop producing because of what others do–fight back with grace and dignity but with a willingness to stop the theft. You will have far more people supporting you and other artists (Michelle Ward, Lynn Perrella, come to mind) who also had to stand up and stop plagiarism of their work. Your art is too beautiful, powerful and important to all who support you and enjoy your work.

11. tomitierneytomi - December 15, 2016

I’m really confused here about what exactly is being done. Is someone actually copying your art? Or are they using a technique that you taught to them in a class that they paid for? I have taken many courses, paid to learn techniques – but truly when I put paint to canvas – my work never comes out looking like someone else’s. But I need to input and inspiration of different techniques in order to grow as an artist.

12. Sidney Sward - December 15, 2016

Hi Orly, I have been “ripped” off by several “so-called” friends through the years. It stings like hell, but I didn’t have the confidence to speak up. I believe in “Karma”, and one of the people who stole from me had a fire in her studio and lost everything. Pay back time,,,,,hmmmm, I don’t know, but I do believe that there is usually a Universal pay-back scenario. I am facing another situation, and friends have told me about how a “friend’s work”, looked like mine. It’s not only hurtful, but it really pisses me off. I even asked this person, if she thought our work was starting to look similar,,,,,and she said, “not really”. I appreciate all the info out there. But if you want to be a “national star artist”,,,,,stick to honoring your own creative voice. After reading your words,,,,I will no longer remain silent, when I notice an obvious copy of something. I’ve even considered making a t-shirt with the words,,,,”Originality Rocks”,,,,,,thanks for letting me share, cheers, Lynne Sward PS My granddaughter will get in touch with you after her check clears the bank. I’ll let you know,,,,,thanks


13. Lynne Sward - December 15, 2016

I agree with Linda, and totally not with Shirley. In my cases which I private emailed to you (you can post it to the group), I feel my soul has been attacked. I used to teach art to kids, and when I noticed a student copying another, I made a big deal out of it. Children are very impressionable, and teachers should explain and teach how to be as original as possible.

14. Grace Morgan - December 15, 2016

*RESPECT* Orly!!!! X

15. Sherry Meneley - December 15, 2016

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. It has sickened me to watch another teacher glean ideas from my students work that they learned from me in my classes. I strive so hard to create new and original content… and then to see it copied by another who loudly claims it’s okay to “steal like an artist” just hurts. And I’ve stayed silent because to speak up, I fear, would appear small. My only solace lately is that others are starting to notice. But it still hurts. I’ve considered not teaching anymore because of this very thing. I try to believe in karma, and that what comes around goes around. Anyhooooo thank you for saying this. I just wish it would make others stop and consider what they are doing when they “steal like a thief” and call themselves a great teacher and artist….

16. Donna Papenhausen - December 15, 2016

When I share a process with others I intend for them to take and use it. I hope and ask for them to give me credit, as I give credit to those whose processes I use. Even if the process is one I’ve shared, the work is their own and no copy. IMHO

17. CarolWiebe - December 15, 2016

Orly, I have already taken you into my heart through previous posts and now you are entering my soul space with your fiercely loving call to action, feeling and love. No, we must not allow what you have described to happen to us–it demeans and depletes all of us. Those who would steal from others do not seem to realize how they are stealing from their own souls, and the “communities” they create are based on falsehood, which is sand. Mere sand. Ready to wash away. I hope you feel my arms around you, and my tears on your cheek. And thank you, thank you for speaking out.

18. Tara Morris - December 16, 2016

Sister Orly! It’s Tara, your photographer from your workshop in Ireland! What an incredibly beautiful, honest, and strong post. This in itself is a work of art! You are an original in every breath you breathe, and I know only good will come from this. I’m sorry your heart has been hurt and I wish you a wellspring of inspiration always. LOVE!!! love love love, tara

19. Lauren Rader - December 16, 2016

I feel the same way, as a teacher. It’s tricky to find the fine line between giving and giving more that I want because I feel I should. Also people just taking the ideas I worked long and hard to create and using them for their own advancement. But it is difficult to know what’s right – where sharing ends and stealing begins. I’m grateful you’ve brought this up.

20. Meo - December 16, 2016

Brava, Sister! Brilliantly articulated! I feel it in my bones! A thousand thanks for your courage, grace, and the inspiration of your Truth Telling!

21. Cindy Dunn - December 16, 2016

As an artist and educator I find that (especially in teenagers) that they struggle to originate material on their own and go directly to the Internet for ideas. All artistic work on the Internet should include some disclaimer that “borrowing” is not allowed. But what should educators being doing differently to encourage the development of original ideas and work. I think perhaps, drawing and sketching of images, ideas to support a final work. What do others think? What other methods can be used to encourage artists to develop organically? I realize that all artist are inspired by those that have gone before us but there should be some principles that we teach as children develop to internally?

22. KrisR - December 17, 2016

My first thought was ‘name and shame’. Bevlangby got to that first. 🙂

We have a ‘local’ artist who is now published – and although I don’t know the exact history, apparently her success is built on copying another artists work pretty darn specifically. Who knows….perhaps we’re talking the same artist/copier as I get both of your feeds on IG and I always think how much they resemble.

23. wendy lee lynds - December 19, 2016

xoxoxoxo love to you and the one(s) hurt. oxoxoxox

24. kathleenbotsford - December 26, 2016

I had a trunk show of my one of a kind jewelry at the Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago a few years back. A woman came up and started asking me lots of questions about my sources, my inspiration, etc. We chatted pleasantly for a half hour and then she said ” I am taking all of your ideas and sources and using them for myself. I am your competition!” She was very surprised with my answer.
“I don’t believe in competition. You can take these exact stones and artifacts and create them exactly as I have and it will not be the same. My soul and spirit have animated these pieces. They are the art of MY heart. You soul longs to come forth through your work. You are doing YOURSELF a disservice by blocking the flow of YOUR creativity. Your piece will feel heavy and dead. The light and energy you feel from my pieces will not be with yours.”

There are no original ideas. How these ideas come forth through the artist is unique and original. There is more than enough abundance in this world for all of us if we stay true to our selves. I feel sad for the people that do not bring forth what is in themselves. They can never be you Orly. You are a unique and beautiful artist and healer. They can only be a second rate copy.

25. Jennifer Carrasco - December 26, 2016

I see a reluctance on the part of many students and workshop attendees to take the time to do the deep work….to learn to draw, to go beyond the surface and spend the time to find their authentic art. Their grasp of process and meaning in making art is fundamentally shallow. One of the reasons I have backed off from some teaching gigs…..is because it’s disheartening to work with students who don’t want to spend the time and effort to produce their true expressions and acquire real skills. Workshop upon workshop for most of them just seems to produce, at best, one shot products that look good to post on their Etsy Shop …..a knock off from their last teacher. You are right. It’s inherently disrespectful of not only the individual artist, but of what art should be.

26. denise stensland - February 6, 2017

“So please people, let’s not hurt each other. Let’s obtain many many sources of inspiration and use them as fragments of our visual language. But mostly let’s go inward, stay there most of the time, cause this is where the good stuff is, deep deep in the spaces occupied between the roots, reserved only for you. Rely on yourselves as ultimately you are the source of the greatest inspirations. Trust yourself, be gentle and be patient. Find peace within your body.”

Dear Orly~ This paragraph reached into my heart and tugged the blood around! I am a lucky one…I won a golden ticket to learn from you in person next month in Portland. ( with FLORA!!) TRUST came when I hit the send button to see if I would get a spot for this dream come true. Every cell of my body knew this journey from my New Jersey home to Portland IS possible and WILL happen. Got my spot~was told I lost my spot~got my spot back~ saved my money~ booked my flight~saved some more cash~now I have an air bnb close by so I can walk to the studio. I am making this happen! “find peace within your body” Rely on myself~??? I have and I will! I look forward to making art with you and Flora~I am Sharing this today because I would like you to know how much this means to one little soul on the east coast. One who was patient and waited for something to open and who is making this dream trip come true. Thank you for everything YOU share and write and create. Touch the soul~~ Sending love and light. Denise Stensland

27. mutabilia - February 14, 2017

I have to teach and write in order to pay the bills. There isn’t a partner in the background to pick up the pieces when I trip.

I always hope that students will take what I teach them and incorporate the philosophies and techniques in their work. It brings me great joy when they do that, using their own “hand”.

But when people (whose professed art practices are quite different to mine) pretend to my face that they are my friend and then teach my workshops just to make a quick buck (feeling entitled, I suppose, having organised previously for me to teach in their region) or produce a sideline of ecoprint garments/accessories (again, completely separate to their own “public” work) for sale, I feel slapped.

Then there are others who have simply copied workshop ideas from my. blog, right down to making visuals of their students wearing ecoprint garments in the sea ….just like we did. And the occasional former student who cheerfully uses my words and concepts verbatim in a “new” workshop.

‘e-courses’ and ‘how-to videos are another interesting can of worms. people have even written to me asking me to endorse their offerings. Remarkable.

and of course those who advertise their classes (or work for sale) with the appellation “trained with India Flint”, or “worked with”. there’s a curious tendency especially in the USA for the latter. as far as I am concerned, taking a class does not mean you have “worked with” me. it means I have taught something and you have been present. and for the record, I haven’t “trained” anyone. that would require an apprenticeship of some kind…and I’m sorry but I haven’t the time. too busy trying to make a living.

I know I am late to the party in terms of commenting, but I thought long and hard before writing. maybe not long enough, but it’s done now.

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