Thursday, April 15, 2010


i recently joined an etsy team called the snow leopard network.
the quality of the work on that team is fantastic!

have a gawk:
snow leopard network
i am honored that i was invited to be a part of it.

anyway, once a month, this team has a talk about blog. people on the team write on a chosen topic and list the links of the others' blogs too. i think that's called a blog carnival. (i'm learning?!)
it's really interesting to hear what everybody has to say.

this is my first attempt...

and it's about copying!
(just the word copying gets my undies in a twist.)

besides being a member of the snow leopard network, i've been on etsy's plush team for a few years,
since it started, really.
copying has happened to me, and MANY of the other plush makers.
we discuss the problems surrounding this often!
surfing around the innerwebs, you hear about it DAILY!!!
it is heartbreaking.

i have been to many a craft show where you hear someone say "i could make that".
you probably have heard that too.
it takes all that i have in me not to punch them.

what is really baffling is how many people don't understand that it's NOT OK!!!!!

artists and craftspeople work hard to come up with original ideas, learn how to make it work, and work their butts off to get it out in the world....usually with the intention of making a living off of what they are good at.

when someone comes along and just takes this end's stealing.

you know when you watch a dvd, and it says all that stuff about not using anything in it for personal or monetary reasons, or you will be fined eight gazillion dollars?
well, it's the same thing.
but there are people who use the stuff anyway :(
there's always gotta be "those people".

i wish i could say that everyone who made stuff was creative and imaginative and put their heart into what they did, but that wouldn't be true.
some people know how to make stuff, but they can't come up with ideas, so they just take somebody else's.

and the worst of these people.
the worst of them ALL!!!!
are the ones who will deny they copied and refuse to stop selling the idea that rightfully belongs to somebody else.
they will actually FIGHT over it!

do they think no one will notice???

these people do not understand how absolutely horrible it feels for the original artist because they don't know what it's like to have created something original.
they don't know because they can't do it...
...or they are too lazy to try.

there are so many books out in the world to tell you how to make things!
there are tutorials all over youtube.
there are many workshops and classes you can take.

but to take an artists work and try to pull it off as your own is wrong and immoral.
if there are still people in the world who truly don't realize this, then i think it's our responsibility, as artists, to spread the word.

which is why i agreed to write about this topic.

copiers!!! listen up!!!
it is hard enough to get by as an artist. please stick to your day jobs and leave our territories alone!
you will never be consistent enough with your work if you are only following someone else's finished product. you will always fail taking the shortcut.
it takes time! it takes years and years to develop an art!!!! it takes experiences, it takes patience, it takes failures and successes. it takes blood, shit and tears! it needs a heart and a soul.
don't try take that away from an artist and their work.
you can't.
and your copy will be absolutely lifeless if you try.
i can promise you that.

please see what the other snow leopard peeps think about all this...

ArtJewel designs
Andes Cruz
Jewelry by Natsuko
Beth Cyr
Tosca Teran
Tamra Gentry
alisa miller
Mary Spencer
Thomasin Durgin


sassypackrat said...

Excellent post! Copiers have to go jump off a big cliff! I work so hard creating my own designs that I would be devastated if they were stolen! It breaks my heart to hear about it happening or to come across a copy of obviously another artists work during a search. It's piracy plain and simple and not the fun kind with Johnny Depp!

I was once accused of stealing a design when I drew a pineapple for a note card. The other person complained it looked too much like theirs (theirs was purchased clip art not their own design!). I told them to see my other drawings to see my style and that several other people were using the exact same purchased art that they were and mine was original. She finally agreed I didn't steal from her. People really don't understand copyrights. Major drama over something that wasn't even hers! This was 4 years ago and I'm still paranoid every time I come out with a new design.

Tamra said...

I absolutely LOVE your post, Susan. You know I agree. 100%. 1000%.

Jan said...

I appreciate your passion and your thoughts, Susan...very well put! This is such a complex issue. Every artist has to come to terms with copying...there's no escape.

After years of dealing with copiers, I find myself choosing to concentrate my energies on my own work and leave the copiers to "reap what they sow". They injure themselves more than anybody else!

yoborobo said...

Copiers make me nuts. I see it with plushies all over etsy. One thing I can say is that if you are an artist, and you work at your craft, your own 'look' will develop, but you should keep in the loop, and look at other work, just to make sure you are not accidentally making something that is too similar to work already out there. It's the same with writing. Before I start a book, I spend DAYS on google and Amazon and the Library of Congress making sure I'm not writing something that already exists. I mean, it's one thing to accidentally make something that is a little similar to something else (you could argue that it just happens sometimes), but it's another thing all together when you see people actually copying someone else's style EXACTLY! ARRRRRGH!!! Ok, blood pressure going up. :) xo Pam

QuirkynBerkeley said...


Andes Cruz said...

Susan, absolutely wonderful post. Excellent. I love that you come straight from the heart. And why shouldn't we all be passionate about this? as many of us have expressed, the morality of the right/wrongness of copying- when done maliciously. Agreed.

My favorite part of all the posts today was this : "it takes all that i have in me not to punch them." kudos! lol, xoxox

susarto said...

when it happened to me,it was a blatant copy. i was bombarded by convos from other etsians who had my back. i really appreciated that.

it is hard to be objective about this topic, i think. especially if you have experienced it, or you know someone it has happened to.

jan, i agree. keep on truckin! but when the topic comes up, i can't help myself ;)

pam, i check around first too! it is so easy to be influenced by something and not even REALIZE it, but when it's blatant. stitch for stitch, brush stroke for brush's just obvious.

and ande! i just went back and threw that bit in there at the end! lol! it's true though :D

RosyRevolver said...

Yeehaw, sista! Glad to be standing with you.

PS- Might need to be plucking me a plush from your shop. The Monkey just turned 3. :)

susarto said...

happy birthday monkey!!!!
that's too funny.
the monkey is what was copied! lol!

Martha Bright said...

While I can understand your anger at being copied (and I'm an artist too, so I understand it on a visceral level) I have some other views on the situation.

First, copying the work of other artists to learn their technique has been practiced for centuries. Trying on different styles in writing (imitating Faulkner or Hemingway, for example) can help a writer explore these voices. Ultimately the artist should be developing his or her own style, but copying can be a step towards that. We all learn most things in life by copying! Like good manners, how to play baseball, and what to eat.

As an anthropologist I also see another side to this issue that has specifically to do with American (and European culture). We tend to have a very defined sense of "ownership" of ideas and stories and products. In other cultures authorship in the sense of ownership just isn't as important. For example, many of the stories in Indian folklore have been passed down through generations and retold by different "authors." Retelling these stories is not considered stealing. In fact, when I used to teach I would have to explain plagiarism very carefully to some international students because it just wasn't something they understood very well.

I'm not saying it's right to copy someone's idea for a stuffed animal and sell it. I'm just trying to get people to think more critically about these ideas, beyond the personal. Let's face it--just about everything has probably been done before. There isn't much we can do to prevent someone from taking our original ideas, or ideas we consider original. Getting upset about it and calling people names and wishing them harm isn't going to make it go away. Understanding the phenomenon with respect to cultural attitudes might make it seem less like a personal violation and outrage.

susarto said...

hi martha. thanks for your comment.
i appreciate what you are trying to say. and i understand about learning from other artists and even copying what they've done *to learn*. but these are things that you do for personal use and knowledge...meant to be kept on the back burner, not out in the open flames.

it's people who try to make a buck off of somebody else's hard work that i'm talking about.

and i'm not talking about subtle similarities. i'm talking about blatant copying.

i do not believe that everything has been done before because our world is always changing and we change along with it.

one of the team members put it nicely on their blog fact, it was rosyrevolver who commented here just before you.
here's her link

teachers ALWAYS teach about plagarism in writing, but almost NEVER about copyright in other arts.
it's a pity, because it IS "ownership" just the same as it is with books.

we couldn't go around re-writing an exact copy of a book and trying to sell it as our own...

people patent ideas for inventions so that other people can't claim it as "their own".

and stories that are passed down are exactly that. they are told, in the teller's own style, and probably altered a whole lot to their own tastes.

and most times, you will hear somebody say, "oh, i've heard that story before".

just like jokes that circulate around.

it *is* a personal violation and an outrage when that person is from *your same culture* and knowing full well that what they are doing isn't right.

it's not like i sit around being angry all day about this, and i don't think, as far as i can recall, i've called anybody names.
but this is a discussion topic and i am discussing it from my own experiences.

Andes Cruz said...

I'd like to add another thought.... Just because in the past/history; it was common, or "acceptable " top copy a style or works..... well, that doesn't mean it is now.

Which is why we have copyright laws, patents, intellectual property rights, and the such.....

and as you pointed out Susan; not acceptable in school to use a book as your assay... plagiarism. and you get a fail.

I believe we are taught that although we see, read, imitate to learn, it is a learning tool, but to do so as a functioning adult in the working world, we must find our own path, voice, and creations.

it is NOT ok to copy .

susarto said...

well said, ande!

Martha Bright said...

Susarto--I didn't mean to suggest that you were calling anybody names--your post was thoughtful and has generated interesting debate. But not all people are so circumspect. Any discussion of religion or politics proves that.

And yes, I agree that plagiarism should be taught in other disciplines, not just in writing. I wish I could say that students always get an "F" for plagiarizing. The fact is; they don't. The internet has complicated matters a lot. Proving plagiarism can be a real hassle. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's very very hard, and when you have a pile of 96 portfolios on your desk...well, you can imagine the conversations you have with yourself over that one paper, after you've spent two hours looking for the source...

We've seen a number of high-profile cases in which writing has been plagiarized (or accusations have been made), as in the writings of Steven Ambrose, Michael Bolton, and even Barack Obama! And just in trawling the web I've seen sites with identical passages.

This may seem to be straying from the point regarding the arts. But just yesterday I saw the work of two doll artists that was startlingly similar. They are also both from Argentina. Have they seen each other's work or have they both been inspired by something else? I don't know. But I think that we are starting to see a post-author/artist culture, where intellectual property is being challenged from all directions, and I doubt that we'll be able to keep the definition of it static, or protect it the way we tried to do.

helveticaneue said...

thank you for this post sus!! it has been brought to my attention I have a (LOCAL!!) construct copier and it really rubs me the wrong way. I always wish there was a way to nip it in the bud but I still feel helpless.

susarto said...

helv! lettmeattem!!!! did you contact the person?

martha, thanks for your response.
i'm not going to lose hope.
i think the more people speak up and call out the people copying, the less it will happen.
like i said, i think some people just don't know any better.
we need to educate them!

helveticaneue said...

hahah no I haven't contacted her. one of my friends saw them at a local craft fair this weekend, though I've been aware of her for a few months. Honestly they are such bad knockoffs, mostly I can laugh, but it still makes me boil to know she makes sales off the concept so poorly executed.

susarto said...

knockoffs are usually always bad :/
i'll go to the craft shows with ya. we'll hunt her down, and announce at her table that they are poor imitations of a great artists work!

we need a bullhorn, btw.

helveticaneue said...

in-person confrontation of a copycatter is even more terrifying a thought! I'd so want to say something but I imagine I'd more likely barf from the anger hahahaha. I am such a non-warrior!