Saturday, 30 October 2010

Lessons I've Learnt

Over the last couple of months there has been an increasing number of posts on blogs, facebook, twitter etc about people having the craft work copied.

I believe quotes along the line of 'imitation is a kind of flattery' are lame however I'm not sure that sniping and veiled comments via social media are terribly flattering either.

Here is what I have learnt:

1. There is nothing new in craft. Okay, we all want to think we are God's Creative Gift to the world but in my experience all we add is a new spin, a different interpretation to all that has gone before. Many years ago I was taught to make some flowers from paper strips and pieces.  An elderly mother of one of my clients showed me how to make them. We cut rags as part of vocational training and some of the fabric wasn't suitable so we started making tthe flowers out of fabric strips. Fast forward 25 years and somebody publishes a book on Fabric Jewellery using the same techniques. The author may very well believe that she invented the ideas  however I  continue make and sell these with a clear conscience.

2. Being aware of what your competition is doing is smart business. Focussing on what they are doing is not. While you are placing your energy in that direction you are not paying attention to your business.

3. The Copier is not going to stop doing it on the strength of your veiled comments.

4. Sniping and negativity adds nothing to your business, creative energies or reputation. You would be far better discussing the issue with the Copier privately.

5. If the Copier is stealing your Stockist then say a quiet Thank You. More than likely the Stockist isn't a good fit for you or your product.  Stockist who don't appreciate  & respect you and your work will probably end up sourcing a knockoff made from some poor half blind person sitting in the dirt somewhere in Asia. If you really feel that you have a point make directly to the Stockist. Ask them why they have chosen not to continue stocking your work, why have they chosen to buy from another. Maybe they don't undersand the ethics of handmade, maybe they are only interested in their bottom line. Either way the only way you are going to find out is to ask them.  You learn nothing while venting on Facebook etc.

6.This last point is made to the couple of Craft Artist that I know personally who have recently been affected by this sort of Copying and have vented via FB, Blogs and Twitter. However I am sure that this holds true for the  many others of you who are reading this. You are better than this. You have more class, creativity and style to indulge in these sorts of pointless comments toward people who lack the ethics to change their ways. Use it as a catalyst to develop to new creative lines and better business models.

Sometimes as Craft Artists we find oursleves believing that the business of craft is very different to other forms of business. Truly, its not. You will have all sorts of sucesses and knockbacks both creatively and financially. They will define you,  only you decide whether it is a positive or negative experience.


KateB said...

I'm just gonna say it... I agree...100%...I do not add a disclaimer on my blog nor do I ever think anyone has lifted anything I do lol...folks have been scrapbooking since the beginning; we aren't reinventing the wheel, we're just tweaking it right? If I straight copy someone even anywhere between 80-100%, I credit them...but I'm always snatching ideas here and there and everywhere and sometimes it drives me crazy when "others" in the industry think they are the ONLY ONES with that ONE just isn't how life works...there's too much talent in this industry and I think many only see it as a business instead of a passion and they get so crazed. I could only hope and pray that someone would be inspired by anything I create; I think it's a compliment. But this is just my opinion and I don't honestly know if I'd have a different opinion if my bread & butter depended on it. Kudos to you for even voicing it; I know many others think what I think and many others will disagree.

Trish Goodfield said...

Thanks Kate for your feedback. I know how heart wrenching it is when you have a design copied, it HAS happened to me. Over many years I have just developed the belief that any response says more baout me than them so I would rather that response be a positive one.

Hope I didn't come off too preachy.

KateB said...

not preachy...courageous :)

ps-to those who do copy, we won't think any less of you when you credit the originating creator *LOL* I might like your knockoff better; you never know :)

marigold jam said...

You are so right - there's nothing new under the sun and as craftspeople we are all inspired and given ideas from seeing other people's work - but it is galling to be copied I know. What ius it they say - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?!


Di's Quilting and Craft said...

Trish, Your comment here is very level headed and commonsensical. We are all inspired by other crafts people and we search the internet for such inspiration.

It becomes difficult for the small craftsperson wishing to sell a few items at a quilt show, church stall,(for instance) to come up with new and interesting items to sell, as, very often, they are not designers. We conduct a small sales table at our quilt show and I always ask the ladies to check with the maker if they wish to copy an item. Almost always we get a positive response and permission to sell a few items and/or credit them. It is not mass production.

You are very sensible not to vent your ire towards anyone on one of these social networks. I was reading a blog once where the maker was going right off about someone copying her and I must say I deleted it from my reader. Not because I disagreed with her sentiments, but I only like reading the positive. Regards Di

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Trish, this is a really good article and thank you for sending me the link. I really agree with the last point which is why I won't name the person, and if I do decide to contact them, I will do it privately.

Good advice that I've heard that I've been holding onto at the moment is that when you decide to put your work online you do need to let go of it a little.

Sadly, it does still feel a bit yucky when it happens.

DianneT said...

Great article Trish. I agree, Copiers usually will say that it is a form of flattery, and I have never agreed. I had a shop and was aware of customers who were there basically to copy, they would look at your work so intently. I used to get a little upset but I don't now, it's not worth it. You waste your creative energy, if they haven't got it and have to copy, they'll never have it. That's my view anyway. As an artist you always evolve. Taking a technique and tweaking it to your style of vision is different, artists have been doing that for centuries. Outright copying that is another thing all together but hey, you put yourself out there and you have to live with this kind of thing.

lucyloo said...

Hi Trish, thank you for this article, this is the reason I'm worried about selling my pieces! It wasn't until I had been selling to friends and family that I looked around on the net and saw that some of my pieces were very much like some others on etsy/madeit, and it worries me that someone may think ive copied them!!! It has made me feel wary. I met you today at the BrisStyle market 101. You gave such good advice, thank you for the morning.

Trish Goodfield said...

Thanks for your kind comments lucyloo. If in your heart you know your pieces are your ideas go out there,hold your head high and sell them with pride. You can't control other people's reactions and thoughts. You can only control your response to it. Don't let this stop you trying a market.