Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Refuse to be flattered if they copy your work!
'It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation' .. Herman Melville
Imagine the scenario ... you have an idea, you sketch and re-sketch until you think it is just right. You then spend time creating the item to see if the idea will work, you work and re-work it until you are happy with it. Then the fun begins you get to do more research looking for suitable materials to create it in a form that you think it might sell. You order the materials and get excited when they arrive. After unpacking them, checking and rechecking your sketches and patterns you take the plunge and go for it; carefully and lovingly creating the finished item. Hurrah, it looks amazing and you can't wait to see what your customers think. You work and re-work the costing of the item making sure that you have dotted the i's and crossed the t's - you are happy with the figure you finally come up with.
Then there is more planning in preparation for the launch of the new item; it needs photographing and the words writing to describe it, making sure you show it at its best. Finally you are ready to launch it via whatever sales platform you are going to use, you announce it on your Blog, Facebook Page, Website etc and you wait, a little bit afraid that nobody will like it. If you got all the planning right someone will think it is wonderful and want to buy it; then you allow yourself to sigh in relief, especially if more than one person wants to buy it!
Then it happens, something that many crafter designers dread, you are told that so & so are selling a bag, box, vase, ring or whatever your wonderful new item is on their website, Facebook page, etc you grit your teeth, try hard not to get angry and upset as you go in search of your item being sold somewhere else. There it is, maybe the colour is a little different and you are convinced the quality is no where near as good as yours BUT it is your new design in all its glory. What do you do next? If you are an emotional person you are likely to shout, maybe even scream and possible cry. After all, you put in all that hard work, for some crafter designers a new design will be years in the making, you can't believe that somebody has done this to you.
What do you do next? Some people will just brush it off and say hey its ok everyone gets copied at some time, others will prepare themselves for a battle and do everything they can to claim back their design as their own. If you want to do that, seek advice first, don't go in there all guns blazing, know exactly where you stand in the law etc. Just knowing it is your design is not enough to stop someone copying it and using it to make themselves a profit.
In the past I was told that I should be flattered that someone has copied my work. I wasn't, trust me. I was emotional, angry and weeping all over the place. I wasn't able to do anything about it at the time but I learnt from the experience. I try to make sure that photographs of my work have my mark on them ... often the company name, my name and the month/year. I have stopped sharing work in progress photos on Facebook, and I tend to only share ideas with people I trust but much of my new work never sees the light of day because I feel they are too easy to copy.
What I am trying to say here is, should you be tempted to copy anyone, stop and think before you do, think about all the hard work the designer has to put in BEFORE they created an object they considered ready to sell. After all think of what work YOU have to put in when you steal a design ... you may be able to copy the idea from photographs but you still have to figure out how the original was made; with some items it may be easy but with others you will have to buy the item and de-construct it, make a pattern and work from it. That is actually a lot of work, people, including me, have called those that copy LAZY but actually copying a design can be hard work too, the lazy part is the actual stealing the idea/concept.
Please be unique, use all the energy you have to copy in creating your own designs, give it a go you might be surprised at what you can do.