I'm telling you this because even though I endeavor to get my inspiration purely from nature, it is impossible not to be influenced by fellow artists. I mean this in a positive way. Andy was very open with me as I looked at the shapes of his pods, excitedly mentioning what good purses they would make. I was very open with him as he saw and asked about how he could use polymer clay for little spikey parts of his organic forms. We BOTH benefited from being open about ideas and techniques.
This is a very important idea to me. You as artists and craftsmen MUST be open, sharing, and eager to help other artists/craftsmen. Believe it or not, it hurts YOU and the whole community when you are secretive about what you do. In history, there were families of potters in China and glassworkers in Egypt who kept their techniques and recipes secret and it was lost to the world when everyone in the family died with the secret. It's OK to give things away to the artistic competition because it actually keeps you on your toes and doesn't allow you to become too complacent about your work, doing the same old formulas over and over again.
This is why I teach everything I do, at least eventually. I may not teach a class on a new and exciting technique I only recently discovered and am still developing, but I will at some point. Because my work is so personal, no one else can or should want to do what I do specifically, so I do not feel threatened by teaching the techniques surrounding it. After all, wise King Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, "There is nothing new under the sun," so who am I to think that the techniques I use cannot be discovered independently by someone else, or be done even better by someone else?
It is also OK to "borrow" or get ideas from another's work, as long as you push it and move it enough to make it your own. It is also courteous to give credit to that artist when it is appropriate. But, the art we make should come from inside us -- inside our brains, inside our experience, inside our guts -- so we don't have to depend on someone else's ideas or techniques to make art.