This a fantastic post that I think everyone should read: [link]
It explains inspiration vs imitation in a much clearer and eloquent way than I could ever hope to.
It's aimed more towards design/typography, but most of the points apply to all
One of my favourite lines from it is this: "Copy all you wish in private, and once you feel confident in your skills, create your own original public work.".
I understand that copying stuff is a great way to learn, and everyone does or did it at one point in time. Hell I have a box somewhere of terrible Rika + Renamon traceovers/copies that I did over a decade ago. But that was a decade ago and they'll never see the light of the internet (and if they do it'll be with much "LOL LOOK AT THESE AWFUL THINGS I MADE ONCE"). It's not original work, it was practice, it'll never be displayed.
If you're tracing/eyeballing my or anyone's stuff to learn how to draw whatever, okay, but don't post it, because it's not original work. You learned, now do your own thing. Keep that stuff in a box somewhere, and don't let it see the light of the internet. Because most likely, if the people you used as inspiration/practice ever see it, they won't be happy (as I'm sure you've heard a million times from me already, heh).
You might not realize it - looking at reference, figuring "Oh, it's different enough"... I've often, upon catching onto something, been like "Oh, I recognize that pose, the specific way those limbs are arranged, the exact angle/lines of that bird foot (seriously)", and then found exactly what they've referenced without actually having seen the original in a long time. I dunno, does everyone remember their own poses really well or do I just have a good memory? >__>; I draw my poses from my head 99% of the time, the other 1% I'll link to stock or mention I took a photo.
Anyway yeah. I'm not bitching at anyone in particular, I just mostly wanted to share that article (which I found linked on ~bara-chan
's Tumblr). Thankfully I haven't had any issues with this stuff lately