Copying Isn't Flattery, But Not Everything Is Copying

This post contains affiliate links

I have a serious cake copycat. The thing about this person that really boggles my mind is that she was one of the ones whose website was entirely populated by photos from other bakers. She not only stole their pictures, she also cut their watermarks off and put hers on them!

Now that's a blatant copycat. In cake circles there's a lot of discussion about what constitutes copying and when credit should be given, but the truth is that there are rarely any truly "original" cakes that I've seen.

I've seen people have an online hissy fit and remove their entire flickr account because they claim people are copying them. But the thing they claim is being copied is a copy of a famous painting or sculpture or whatever the subject matter is. So they copied it first.

So what's the right way to copy someone, if there is one? That's kind of the topic of the book Steal Like An Artist.

I loved this book because it draws a distinction between straight-up copying and using work that you admire as inspiration for your own style. It's possible to look at someone else's work and figure out how it fits into your aesthetic without just copying it. That's what a lot of people who claim to be artists don't know how to do, but it's the difference between work that's derivative and work that's inspired. Maybe I'll send a copy to my copycat...

This was a fun little read, and it packed a lot of things to consider into a small package. I'd recommend it for people who work in creative fields since we tend to run into this issue all the time. You can use my affiliate link here to find it on Amazon: Steal Like An Artist

And if you run into a copycat, the best way to handle it is to ignore them unless they're stealing your pictures and text. If they do that, go get them! Here are some tips on how to do that: Copyright violations

Edited to add:

I'm editing this to add the follow-up to Steal Like An Artist  because it's soooo good. It focuses on process vs. product, and I'm loving it. Do yourself and your creative process a favor and get Show Your Work when you get Steal Like An Artist.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Popular Posts