Sunday, May 2, 2010

The dreaded "C" word.....

I try to avoid conflict at all costs. I've always been that way. If someone does something to upset me or hurt my feelings I generally don't say anything. My face has a very blank, unreadable expression on it and I get very quiet. There are some things though, that really trip my hammer and I feel compelled to speak up. I have a mental list of those things, which I won't bother going into right now, but pretty high on that list is a subject that most artists, myself included, are pretty passionate about, and that is the subject of copying. Okay, I've said it.... It's my blog so I think it should okay to tell you how I feel about the subject....
Several days ago I stumbled on the blog of another beadmaker whose work really caught my eye and made me want to give her site more that a passing glance. I could tell that her color and design sense were similar to mine and she had also done some of the same design type things I had in the past. I was seeing lots of hearts, flowers, and colorful dots, subjects I use a lot of in my own designs. So I started checking her blog everyday and really appreciating her wonderful photos and admiring her happy work. So last night, just before turning in I clicked onto her blog and lo and behold, there was a photo of a couple of my flip flop beads made into what looked to be book marks. When I clicked on the photo to get a larger view I realized those weren't my beads at all but copies of my beads. Right down to the 3 petal flower decoration and painted toes! My face immediately got hot and my heart started to beat faster. I sat and stared at the photo for what seemed an eternity. What should I do? Should I ignore it? If it would have been just a flip flop bead, without the foot and painted toes I would have been very flattered but said nothing. This though, was a blatant copy. In my mind I'm thinking, though, that if I say something, it's me that will look like the diva.
So, I shut down the computer and went to bed. But I couldn't stop thinking about those flip flop beads. I think the part that upset me the most was that they looked identical to mine. If I had set two of my flip flop beads next to the ones I saw in the photos earlier my customer wouldn't be able to tell they were from two different artists.
And that is why I got out of bed, turned on the computer, and left a comment for the blog author. Actually, I only left a link to a photo of my flip flops with severall question marks. Then I went back to bed, with sort of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach......
I've had other beadmakers copy my work before. There is an art teacher from Isreal that copies my little purses with a seed beaded handle and sells them the same place I sell mine for $7. Seven dollar???? Come on! That ticks me off too! I did email her about it and she ignored me. Yes, I said she is an ART TEACHER!
When I was selling on Ebay I came up with a focal bead design that had a cute bird on one side and flowers on the other. A short time later another beadmaker had an Ebay auction with focal beads that were blatant copies of my bird bead. Same colors, same swirl background design, same bird, same flowers. This particular artist had been known in the beadmaking community for copying anyone's beads she took a fancy to. None of the other beadmakers spoke up until I finally said something. She was justifying it by telling me she was buying beadmaking tutorials. I guess in her mind if she was paying to learn then it was okay to copy any beadmaker. I quickly pointed out that I didn't sell tutorials and I also didn't give anyone permission to copy my designs.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with learning beadmaking techniques from tutorials but they were meant to teach a technique or a set of techniques that can then, hopefully, be incorporated into a beadmakers own style.
I could go on and on but I think I've made my point. It makes me really, really happy that I inspire others in their own art. I feel such pride when I see my style influence in another artist's work but it totally hurts me when people deliberately copy the designs that I have worked so hard on. Beadmakers, go ahead and make a colorful flip flop bead, just don't put a foot in it with painted toes. Go ahead and make a cute little purse bead, just don't put a seed beaded handle and a bail on it and call it your pendant. And if you just can't resist trying to see if you can copy my beads, just to test your skills, then give it to your mother or your sister, don't take a photo of it and put it on your blog like you've just invented "the next best bead design".... or put it up for sale.......especially where I sell my work!
'Nuff said!


Rebecca Bigg said...

I am livid for you on reading your post today.
It makes my blood boil to see artists work copied and then claimed as anothers design.
This is one of the reasons I am so hesitant to post my pictures on the internet, fear of people copying my beads and jewellery designs and I find it disgusting that having read your post, my fears are again justified in seeing another designer being the victim of a copycat.
Dont hold back in your anger towards these people, let them know that they are low down copycats and need to develop some morals!

Brooke said...

Wow! The nerve of the art teacher! I mean seriously!

I'm glad you spoke up about it Vickie. People like that think they can get away with that stuff because they think no one will say anything about it (like that Ebay lady) but it's time someone did say something. You should protect yourself and your work. Have you looked into getting it copyrighted?

carlee said...

copycats are soul-less people who steel and abuse "your children" - i had the same issues with the same people.... i just ask myself why WE always feel guilty when we complain ?
hugs from germany

Silver Strands said...

UGH! Good for you for speaking up!!!

PS - love your work :)


thisamericantourist said...

I'm so sorry your work was plagiarized - they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I imagine it's hard to feel flattered when they start to make a profit off of YOUR work. (I've never been victimized like that, but a friend of mine had her custom needle-point designs copied and printed on pillows for sale by an acquaintance. She was devastated.)

I'm not familiar with the inner workings of Etsy, but surely there's some Terms of Service violation going on - is there someone you can report these copy-cats to?

Vickie Who? said...

Thank you all for your thoughts and comments they are much appreciated.
I'd like to report that the "subject" of this post emailed me to apologize right away and remove the flip flop photo from her blog. Still doesn't take the sting away completely but at least acknowleging her mistake goes a long way in repairing the damage as far as I'm concerned. Will she stop copying though is the question. Maybe she won't copy be but move on to someone else. I hope not. I would like to think she gets it.

Amanda Makepeace said...

This seems to be coming up all too often lately. Another artist recently posted on the EBSQ forums about someone copying her work. She sent lawyers after them!!

I've add this to the EBSQ Friday Five.

Groovy Pumpkin said...

Hi there,

I've just found your blog via the EBSQ Friday Five blog, and think your work is absolutely wonderful - I'm so glad you got in touch with your 'copy-cat' and that she was sorry too - I think it's really great that you did that!!

Well, I'm following your Blog now too, and love you Flickr photos - you're amazing!!

Take care,
Jane (Groovy Pumpkin) xx

Yours Truly said...

Unfortunately that kind of thing will always happen!! The only thing u can prolly do is to establish urself as a brand more & really put yourself out there so that anyone who follows bead making or glass beads will know u came out with those designs first? Stumbled across ur blog thru blogger. I don't know anything about glass bead making but your beads look amazing. Don't get discouraged! :-)