A woman that has broken a long time friendship over issues of creativity and copying another's work quoted Picasso as saying that all good artists steal from other artists. Picasso has long been one of my favorite artists, indeed his use of dimension and viewpoints in his paintings gave me a freedom in my own work that I had not known before. To this very day GUERNICA can bring tears to my eyes and its' strength, savagery and images can make me fall to my knees with emotion.
Is it stealing to remake another's work? To use the same forms, texture and materials in the same combination of the original work that you viewed? Rather than " steal " I think a true artist needs to interpret another artist's work. If you learn something in a class or an experience with another and you reinvent that lesson in new form or new idea, stealing ( a word which I hate to have used in the context of art or craft ) moves beyond mere imitation into your own creative realm and if the teacher has inspired the student to do just this; is that not a successful relationship both among the creative parts and in the presentation of new work? Where in this does ego fit in? The teacher who has taught the student will release their ego and their ownership of technique to the student who then creates new work and sends it out to the universe with new ego attached.
We, as artists should not hide behind accusations of copying or stealing or adulterating another's work but rush ahead into new areas of exploration. Ego will survive, friendships will survive and the world will be richer for the new work created in this release of instruction and learning.