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!