To plagiarize is to blatantly steal the ideas, images, or words of someone else but present them as our very own new and original work. Creative people are not only told to be original, they want to be original. Yet we can do that only to a certain extent. The work we create originates from us, from our particular way of seeing the world, what we think and feel about it, and how we express that. But, as the ancient maxim tells us: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Europe did not even embrace originality as an ideal until the 18th century, especially in Romanticism. Traditionally, apprentices learned by closely imitating the masters they studied with and, once skilled enough, might execute part of the master's work. Italian painter Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520), or Raphael, provides a good example. He ran a large workshop and, despite an early death, was surprisingly prolific. I've read that the workshop carried out a great deal of his work, such as "La Perla," based on his drawings.
What do you think makes a work original?
What's original about your art, whatever medium you create in?
What artwork do you find patently derivative rather than original?