DEAR HARRIETTE: I am an artist, and I have been working on a collection of paintings for several years now. I have another artist friend who I visit with my family every year. I have shown him my work as it has been evolving, and he often has great input. Well, fast forward to last week. My friend had an art show, and my wife and I attended. I have to tell you I was a little bit taken aback when I saw his work. While it wasn't a direct copy of mine, it definitely was majorly derivative. I'm not sure how I should deal with this. I feel like it was more than inspiration. I really feel like he kind of copied me without ever saying anything. I don't want to sue him or anything, but I feel violated. What should I do about this? Should I say anything? -- Duped, Detroit
DEAR DUPED: Given that you say that you and this man are good friends, you can have a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Congratulate him on his show, and tell him that you were very surprised to see a collection that felt highly reminiscent of the work you have been creating and sharing with him. The best you are going to get from him is an apology -- if you get that.
The lesson here is that it's best to create your work and present it when it's ready as opposed to revealing it to others -- even those who are close to you -- along the way. Even when people don't mean to be influenced by your work, it can easily happen with no mal intent.