Inspiring, Imitating and Copying
So I was wondering what peoples opinions were on being inspired by someones work, using their work as a reference and trying to imitate elements of it, or simply trying to copy their style as is. I'm not talking about cutting elements out of someones previously drawn map, or tracing it verbatim, but for example thinking "I like how they draw trees/mountains" and then using the same, or at least a very similar, style.
For me this seems like an overall grey area given that there's a lot of tutorials that people do for others and by following these tutorials you are essentially replicating someone else's technique and adopting their style (albeit to probably less success than the original author). I often find myself when drawing maps thinking "how does <name> draw their tables/mountains/coastlines" and then loading their art up an then imitating it, or am I simply copying it?
I've only had my graphics tablet for 4 months, have never done hand drawn maps ever, and so I feel I'm still trying to find my own style and technique and in the mean time am using other peoples until I find my own way, but I still can't help but feel that maybe it's bad etiquette.
So what about you? Do you find yourself using other peoples work for your own maps? How would you feel about people trying to replicate your own style; flattered or furious?