Thursday, August 7, 2008

Do your own thing... please.

Is there anyone out there with their own imagination in proper working order? I mean, is it possible for people to come up with their own creative ideas, their own designs, their own means of carrying out an idea?

Not on Etsy.

I just spent the past few days in Sunapee, New Hampshire at the N.H. Artist's Guild's 75th annual craft fair. The level of artistry and craftsmanship on display was nothing short of breathtaking. I walked aisle after aisle through booths belonging to craftspeople who clearly have their medium so under their control that it is like breathing to them. It was refreshing in see such a high level of skill gathered in one place. It was depressing to come home, log on to Etsy and see, well...

There are many very talented people on Etsy, that is true. Unfortunately there seem to be even more people who lack creativity and a thinking brain of their own. Just because someone has technical skill doesn't mean that they have creative skills and Esty seems to be the perfect free-for-all atmosphere for such individuals. Yes, I am talking about copying.

Copying is the dreaded topic in the Etsy forums, usually greeted with loud moans and the usual "if you think you are being copied report it to admin" rhetoric. The truth is that very rarely is someone actually being copied. There are such things as coincidences and rarely has anyone invented something completely unique. However, those who really and truly know that they have been copied know for very specific reasons. For example: not only does someone copy your exact style but they copy your style of photography AND they even copy your style of writing, often just switching a few words around. Yep. Uh huh.

I guess they think that know one will notice. But they do.

What can you do about it? Well, after you complete a voodoo doll in what you imagine to be their likeness, try to move on from it. It's hard. It's discouraging (especially when Etsy often heaps praise and attention on these copycats over the original artist). But it is possible. Do what you do more, do it better and stock up on pins for that voodoo doll.


Lorelei said...

Oh my.
Interesting post.
Now I'm paranoid. I wonder if I'm being copied.
In my humble opinion, I think Etsy should work kind of like works. Where you submit your work and then get accepted.
I've seen everything under the sun on Etsy, including a 2002 issue of Martha Stewart magazine.
Come on people! It's a place for buying HANDMADE! HELLO???

Round Rabbit said...

Etsy has certainly lost some of its grip on the whole handmade concept, that is for sure. It might help if it were a juried site but that means that they would have to hire some experienced people with knowledge of fine craft and they don't seem too interested in doing that. It would be nice if they did a little research before promoting people, though, just to see if they are in fact the originators of their style of craft.

Lorelei said...

Hi N
I'm definitely going to come to syracuse tomorrow to check out the Regional market. I'm excited to meet you in person. Can you send me an email and tell me how to get there?

Gaea said...

It's funny. Or not. Every time my husband sees me adding items on a site like etsy or uploading photos to Flickr, the first words out of his mouth are "Oh, another place for people to see what you do and copy it." I think that could be said of walking down the street. Hopefully people are so inspired by your work that it is a spring board for their own creativity and not a "steal". We are not reinventing the wheel, that is for sure. I do like the added vintage items to esty. I had a customer email me asking if I was selling press molds of my work on ebay. Uh. NO! She then directed me to a page where a customer in Canada was using my pieces to make press molds to sell on ebay!!! I let her know that was illegal and tried to report it. She still has a shop filled with press molds. Who knows how many are her own designs. Thanks for a great post.

kim* said...

yep :)

cserdan said...

Hey roundrabbit, I found your blog through lorelei's beautiful blog.

So well-said! I've been wanting to write about this topic myself but haven't for fear of sounding whine-y and paranoid. Maybe I will now take the time to sort out my own thoughts on this touchy subject.

I sincerely hope this hasn't been happening to you. Your work is truly amazing.


The Noisy Plume: said...

Le sigh.
I just blogged about this very thing this past week HERE:
I feel your pain sister.
Keep the faith.


thewindhover said...

Dear Rabbit,
I found your blog via the very talented and beautiful Noisy Plume, but it was a little coincidental because I was in your little etsy shop last night favouriting pieces; trying to decide which one I wanted (perhaps them all?). Still, I know how you feel. As an artist you are already giving so much of yourself freely to public eye; there will always be those who would rather take other people's ideas that sit down and develop their own; and I don't think its because they "lack creativity" it seems to be about making sales and that's sad. I've been on etsy for some time and I haven't sold a great deal but I am glad to belong to a community of so many talented souls... so keep heart friend.

Highland Fairy said...

I think it's crap that people feel they have to copy others, just because they have no imagination of their own! I've experienced this before and it's very annoying...
It's a compliment in some ways, but if they take the credit for the designs, when they didn't come up with the's pretty lame!
But sometimes I think....'no-one could make exactly the same as me, they might try...but they don't know my techniques, my colours, etc...
I'd really hate to see one of my designs on a T shirt though...I've seen this happen to some other designers..without them knowing about it!

Anonymous said...

The internet is very much a double edged sword regarding creativity and art. On the one hand it's so easy to share your creations or photos, yet on the other this makes it easy for those who don't have one ounce of originality to steal your ideas. So with ease of sharing comes more difficulty to stand out. I think after some time though, the fakers will eventually fade away. On Flickr as you know it's the same. A pretty face can be regarded as an "awesome photographer" even though all they do is copy everyone else. I've stopped getting irritated by all that as I know it will never change as long as there is an audience for mediocre art. Sad world, only getting sadder.