(The Chic Peach)
What’s the best way to handle other jewelers who “shop” your booth; taking pictures, asking for the names of your sources, etc. How does one gracefully handle these people?
I realize an element of this will always exist. Maybe these people haven’t learned to trust their own creative process.
I do like to look at other booths for price comparison or to admire a new technique.
However, I’d never ask such pointed questions.
It is irritating when I see these same artists at other shows and my ideas, packaging and displays have been duplicated at their booth.
Short of a verbal confrontation, not sure how to address this. Would appreciate any words of wisdom on this topic.
Just Kim etsy shop
P.S. Keep those jewelry business tips coming. They are pearls of wisdom and have been very helpful.
Dealing with Copycats
Thank you so much for your kind words, Kim! :o)
I agree – it’s upsetting and disheartening to have our original creativity stolen – whether it’s our jewelry designs, our displays, packaging, or any other aspect of our business.
Copycats think they can make a quick buck by doing exactly what you do – but it seldom works out for them.
Like you, I would never take pictures at someone else’s booth or copy what they do.
But it’s amazing what audacity some people have – especially folks who think they can copy their way to success.
I’ve been confronted by people like that many times, and I think it’s best to have your response pre-planned.
Being prepared makes the incident less upsetting because it puts you in control of the situation.
I’ve decided that for me, my first priority when I’m in any jewelry-selling situation is to appear professional and polite. So, like you, I wouldn’t get into a public confrontation with a copycat.
But here are some things you can do:
When They Ask You to
Reveal Your Sources
If you don’t want to reveal your supply sources, especially when the person asking is clearly planning to try to copy your business, you can reply politely without revealing anything – saying something like:
“Thanks for asking – I’m always sourcing new vendors for my supplies.”
“It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.”
“Try eBay – they have everything.”
“This stone is usually mined in Brazil.”
“Gosh, I get my supplies from all over. It’s hard to say where this came from.”
The point is to respond politely – but without revealing anything you’d like to keep private.
When They Take Photos
of Your Booth
If they’re taking pictures at your booth against your wishes, you can politely tell them that unauthorized photos are not permitted – and usually they’ll stop.
However, by that point they’ve probably already taken a few photos, which you can’t do much about.
I’m not sure there’s a way you can completely stop people from taking photos at your booth – especially if they’re using camera phones, which make it impossible to tell if someone’s or taking a picture or just holding up their phone while checking their messages.
And of course if you have shoppers in your booth your attention has to focus on your customers, which makes it nearly impossible to deal with any photo-takers.
However, I know one artist who takes his own pictures – of the copycats who are shooting photos at his booth.
He keeps his digital camera on hand in his booth.
When a copycat approaches and starts taking photos, this artist whips out his own camera and takes several shots of the copycat, saying “I’m just getting irrefutable proof that you’re stalking me and stealing my ideas.”
If you’re bold enough to do this (which I’m not!), it evidently makes copycats disappear quickly!
Profiting from the
People Who Want to Copy You
I know some jewelry artists who stock their booths with their jewelry creations ….
and then they also prominently display and sell printed tutorials and DVD’s of how to make their jewelry designs.
In addition, they hand out flyers for the jewelry workshops they teach.
Of course, many copycats only want to take from you, not buy.
But there are actually a lot of copycats who are interested in learning from an established jewelry artist, and you may as well make some money from them if you’re interested in teaching or creating tutorials.
The Best Solution
There isn’t much you can do to totally stop this type of copycat.
The good news is that they don’t tend to stay in business long, because copying someone else is rarely successful.
The bad news is that when one copycat drops out, a new one takes her place.
You can try to go after them, but it takes a lot of your valuable time and energy that are much better spent on channeling your creativity into your art and into your business.
I feel that the best solution is to simply keep evolving.
Keep staying ahead of the copycats, so while you’re displaying your new stuff, they’re displaying copies of what you were selling last year.
Also, aim for making your jewelry so unique that it can’t be easily copied.
Using unique components and complicated jewelry making techniques can mean that the copycats give up on you and go after easier prey to copy.
Copycats .. ugh!
TL;DR Edition: There will always be copycats. The more you worry about it, the more trouble you’re going to have. Just be yourself and nobody can take that from you. 🙂
Copycats will ALWAYS be there, no matter how much you try to detour them. It goes along the same lines as the quote ‘Make it idiot proof and they’ll make a better idiot’.
I personally have a lot of trouble with copycats with my items – When people are taking pictures, as mentioned: I snap a picture right away myself. You can always tell from their reaction who’s out to try to steal your glory. When people ask, I simply tell them that it’s copyright insurance. Those that I have to explain that to usually are just snapping pictures of neat things – not copycats. Post a sign in your area stating something like “Please, No Photos. Violators will be photographed.” This will help to detour real copycats. Most want to stay anonymous. Being branded as a copy can’t be good for business.
Secondly, I know that my items are always superior than cheap knockoffs. I don’t just assume this .. I’ve heard it first hand many times. My pieces are much more sturdy and durable due to the process I use to make them – knockoffs aren’t, and fall apart quickly. I frequently hear at shows “Oh, makes these!” to which I ask “How quickly before they fall apart?” I know it sounds brash, but the answer is always some form of “Quickly” … I’m also a lot more outspoken than some which to be. 🙂
Lastly, I also photograph all of my items, with a date stamp for legal “poor man’s copyright” as it seems to be known. It’s always possible that someone, on their own, came up with a very similar piece to yours … but when they suddenly have 50% of your products as knockoffs, there’s an issue. At least this way, you’re protected if they try to come after YOU as the copycat.
Take copycats with a grain of salt. They do always say – imitation is the highest form of flattery. 😉
I love it at shows when people admire my booth displays. That’s why I put a lot of thought and effort into it, clients remember it from year to year. Recently though, I went to an event and someone that I have seen around had literally copied my whole set up. Originally I was upset, but I’ve moved on and redid my booth for a new and improved look. The thing I didn’t like was that clients would first think it was me. Luckily, the “copycat’s” work doesn’t hold a candle!
Taking Photos Inside My Booth
I have worked hard at finding just the right display for my creations, and have found that simple, straight lines and neatly placed items always look the best. This past weekend I was at a busy show and just happened to notice a woman taking a close up pic of one of my most creative pieces. Unfortunately, I was helping another customer and didn’t realize what she was doing until after the fact. Not only did I feel annoyed, I felt like my creativity was being stolen. From now on, I am going to place a sign that says “No Photos, Please”…
I used to get upset when seeing someone imitating what I had made or mumbling that they could do the same. Instead of feeling angry, I know that what I do is unique for me because I made it myself and all of my items are different. I know that quality and customer service are important to me and that is what my clients receive. I also know the time and monetary investment I have in my jewelry which someone off the street does not have. I certainly do not give away any resources but I’ve decided to take the attitude that there is enough for everyone. I want to support other artists that truly share the same values as me and I know deep down that there is enough for everyone. If someone is being sneaky or undermining, I feel what goes around comes around. Otherwise, I take it as a compliment that someone would want to imitate my work and good luck to them!
Yes, it is frustrating – the best (worst?) example I have of this – it’s actually pretty funny -at a show a woman came into my booth and started looking very closely at a bracelet of Bali silve and pearls. I noted she was “counting” the bali beads, so I asked her if I could help her and she replied “just looking”. So then I said, so- you make jewelry! She slowly replied, “yes”, so then I said, I could tell, you are counting my pattern. She kind of mumbled and said, “well, you could find any pattern on line or in a book” and I said, True, but then you wouldn’t be coping it in front of the artist! At that point she dropped the piece and left my booth! It was pretty funny actually.
Copy Cats: Why Sweat the Small Stuff?
by: Sirona Jewelry
I have to disagree with my jewelry colleagues. Here’s why.
If another jewelry artist takes pics of your jewelry, it’s probably because they lack considerable creativity. Then, there’s the actual act of making the piece. Think about it for a minute. If this person has so little creativity so that she/he reverts to copying, how do you think their work will actually show? My guess is pretty poorly!
After all, two cooks can create the same recipe and both dishes will look and taste different from one other.
Lastly, our business names can be trademarked and subsequently registered, but our individual jewelry designs aren’t protected. Even Swarovski sells their products so you and I can make jewelry.
If someone takes pics of your jewelry, take it as a great compliment! Enjoy what you make. We all stand on our own merits.
Row your boat
by: Barbara herndon
I’m with Pauline. There is such an entry level of quality and creativity among these copycats, that they’re hardly a threat. Most realise soon enough that it wasn’t really their thing. On the other hand, a genuine seeker deserves a hand-up sometimes, and who am I to hold her back, right? I’m okay with something I’ve done provoking another artist. I’m often provoked by someone else’s work, and take it to my own place. I’ll keep doing what makes me happy. Someone else’s theft doesn’t quash my God-given creativity anyway. We’re all in this together.
How to Handle Copycats in My Booth
by: Steve@BlackHawk Creations
Boy, the copy catting sure gets tiresome. My wife and I do mostly Native American events with our carved and engraved jewelry and the idea theft is rampant there.
I love the heads up on taking pics of the picture takers, that will be in my strategy repetoire from now on….also the time date stamp photography idea.
We had one guy that just copy catted everyone ,if he thought an idea was selling well. We made some hideous necklaces, and when we saw him coming we put them out.( this was a slow show we had a commitment to do)He remarked how yoogly they were , and we countered with” But they sell soooo well!”
we of course removed them the minute he left.
Each time we saw him coming back around, we put out a few less…till finally we just didnt put any out, and told him we were sold out.
Long short……next show, his booth was absolutely chock full of these hideous necklaces, and some variants on the theme that were even worse than the originals. After making almost no money at the large show he did his yoogly necklace debut at………that was the very last time he copied from us!
Thanks for sharing all this great input here, everyone – and Steve, I laughed out loud at your creative way of putting the copycat out of business! :o) Great solution! :o)
not everyone is copying you!
just wanted to point out that sometimes people get lost in admiration and “taken in” by the spender of your work. So it may look as though they are memorizing your tactics but are not.
I recently was getting completely entranced by an artists work, who makes a vastly different style then me. There was a lot to look at and I was enjoying myself and moving slowly. All the sudden she comes over, tells me not to touch them and has me step back several feet to look from afar. I was so offended, felt uncomfortable and just left.
So before you take a plunge of voicing your opinion about copy cats really take note if they truly are. Of course if they are taking photos…maybe they are! But at least you know you have more experience!
First, I’d like to thank Steve for the best belly laugh I’ve had in days! That whole scenario was playing in my head as I read. I pictured that guy scurrying home like a mad professor, pulling all the yoogly elements together to make these “fabulous sellers”…just too hilarious!
You know? It’s funny…I’ve done so many shows over the past twenty years, and never really gave the people with cameras much thought! I am split on this one…half of me would like to throttle them, since my brain doesn’t work as quickly as it used to, so my ideas are really valuable to me (haha). On the other hand, I feel a little bit more “validated” every time it happens!
I agree with the camera idea…I usually bring mine to every show anyway, in case I see a good lighting opportunity to take a pic of something of my own (outdoor shows only). I love the comment to the copycat for why we’re taking their pic…to ensure copyright protection.
All in all, I don’t believe one should be combative, but we work hard on our design concepts (at least this old brain does), and although we’re all “unique” and there’s “room enough for all”, it’s a matter of tact and decorum. If someone is just starting out, they may need some of us to get their own ball rolling. I am more than happy to help a fledgling artisan. But, unfortunately, most of the time it is not the fledgling that is picking at our bounty. It is the vulture!
I’m pretty outspoken, as a couple of you already know 😉 so I don’t have a problem with standing up for my design ownership. I’ve also gotten quite good at nipping in the bud the rampant children that like to pull, twist, throw, and otherwise beat up your things while their parent stands there and watches (or is nowhere to be seen). Anyone interested in how that situation gets handled now, let me know and I’ll give you a good laugh with the story of how I handled it last summer at a show!
Personally, I think it would be a hoot to tackle the copycats, wrestle the camera from their hands, and crush the SD card. However, it probably wouldn’t be conducive to getting invited back to the show! Polite and professional, polite and professional…I have to keep repeating this mantra for the “next time”!!!
the truth can be a good deterent
by: Ann Nolen
When I developed my current jewelry line, I was surprised how many artists asked me details that would make it easier to copy. I had spent three month experimenting and didn’t appreciate the obvious ploy. I finally decided to tell them the “truth” of the matter and that was most of my success was due to practice, practice, and more practice… not only did the copycats loose interest, but a few of them have seen the value in my work and have become good customers. A win-win for everyone.
I had a vendor email me repeatedly asking for my silver source. I finally gave her just any silver supplier that I could find online and not the one I really use. I figure she could spend some of her time finding suppliers just like I do.
Never allow photos!
by: Jackie Klish
An artist’s work is their intellectual property. I never allow photos, and I’ve had some sneaky people taking pictures of the park or their children suddenly aim at my table! I even put my hand across the lens of one guys camera. If you were in a coffee shop, working on a book you were writing, would you let other patrons get out their phones to take copies of what you are writing or the book outline? It is stealing and you should be politely firm. I will say “I’m flattered that you like my work, and I hope it will inspire you to create something of your own. We are all inspired by other artists. To copy wouldn’t be ethical and you would do yourself an injustice.” I did tell one man he could not take pictures (after I checked to see if he was from local press covering the event). He left and came back again trying to take pics, and I told him I was calling the police. He really left then. It’s not that hard to sort out the jewelry making folks from the copycats. I’ve also used humor and told them I put a spell on anyone who copies my designs. It’s not too threatening, a little bit silly and they get the message. After all, if they really thought what they were doing was OK, wouldn’t they ask permission first? If you wouldn’t give away the piece of jewelry, why give away the design?
Copt cats have access to the internet
Hi all, Some great reading about copycats?
I post my designs on my blog and this is available for all to see. I would never know who is copying my designs as they are available to whoever comes accross my page.
With regards to giving out where you get your supplies, I decided to keep my suppliers secret , i just reply that I get them on the internet or beadshops when i am travelling.
I try not to worry about copy cats as I find it takes up to much of my energy which i would rather use on my designs.
photos, suppliers & copycats
by: Cloud Hale Design
If I see someone taking photos in my booth I take a friendly approach & start a conversation, and ask why they are taking a picture. I’ve had a photography buff just trying to improve his skills – we all know how difficult it is to photo jewelry. I asked for him to email me the picture because I would love to see it. I’ve also had a guy who was taking pictures on his cell phone & sending it to his girlfriend because she was sick & couldn’t come. After she saw the pic, he bought the jewelry. Remember people who have a good experience will share it, and people who have a negative experience will share it even more! How badly could have that turned out if I had assumed he had bad intentions? I make only one of a kind pieces & photo each piece before I try to sell it – so I have proof against copycats. I think that if someone tried to copy my stuff, it would still look different. I use the best quality materials & take my time on my PMC pieces, copycats don’t – it will show!
For the source questions, I either send them to a local bead shop (I can’t afford to pay retail for my supplies, but I want bead shops to stay in business), generically say “online”, or say at bead shows because “I like to personally handpick the most unique & quality beads I can find”.
I’ve had so many fellow artists positively comment on my booth design that I’ve considered a second business in booth design. My first career was as a commercial interior designer. I think more beautiful & professional booth designs just enhance the overall quality of the art show.
I Agree : Not Everyone Is Copying!
As per the post above, I also had a bad experience at a show. I was admiring the lampwork beads of a fairly well-known artist. She had some that were electroformed. I had never seen this technique before at the time, and I asked her how it was done. She shut me down then and there, and I was left feeling like I had done something wrong (I don’t even make lampwork!). I didn’t make a purchase from her, and I”m afraid I never will.
So if you do need to get rid of copycats, do it subtly, because not only is there a possibility they aren’t actually copycats, you may have other customers at the stall who will judge you on your treatment of them.
by: Terri Wlaschin
Cat and Steve – LMAO – too funny. I either don’t do enough shows or my work isn’t worth copying because I have not experienced anyone trying to take photos. That would be a little unsettling depending on why they were doing it. Funny thing about supplies, I am always willing to share that info because I love promoting people even if it is to fellow jewelry artists and possible competitors. I suppose if I was on to something really unique and special (not just general bead or silver supplies), I might be more secretive. For example, those vintage pieces for one. The thing I like best about being at shows is meeting other artists and seeing their work. Now, after hearing these stories, I am a little frightened I’ll get yelled at if I admire too much!!!:):)
I am glad that this question was asked. I have to say that I have been on both sides of this question.
When I was first attracted to wire wrap I searched high and low for some one to teach it. The person I saw doing it was very secretive and did not want to share/teach. So it was left up to me to figure it out on my own.
What I do is unique and every one of my pieces are one of a kind. I insure this by buying small amounts of my gems.
So when someone wants to know my sources I usually give them one of two sources, Firemountain gems or Gem faire. I know that they could never produce the same thing that I have. Even I will not do the same thing with a simular item.
I have had people who do what I do stand and admire my work. I ask them if they do what I do. Most of the time they are trying to copy, but I take it as a compliment. I offer classes to them but they do not want to pay. I ask them if they have done any shows, but they lack the confidence in their own work.
So take it as a compliment. If they want to take pictures engage in conversation to find out motives. Sometimes they are texting to friends what they have found at the show. If not and just want to copy I give them my business card and explain how hard it is to photograph jewelry but it is all done for them online. Most of the time people lose cards and you will never hear from them again. But at least they went away with a good feeling and you were polite and professional.
I have to tell you one woman was asking me all kinds of questions on how to make a certain necklace. It turned out that she was a retired school teacher and had been given some beads and did not know what to do with them. I explained how to do it. She bought tools and supplies from me and I gave her my card so that if she needed help she could just call me. While I was giveing her this quick tutorial I was alone in my booth. People were just picking up my jewelry and throwing money at me. So you never assume the worst. Take it as a compliment!
by: Janine G.
Very funny stories about deterring copycats. Although I have not yet had the time or confidence to do a show this year, I hope to not have an incident in the future.
I always start up a conversation with another jewelry maker putting it right out there what I do and how I admire their work. Sometimes I get the cold shoulder and now I know why. But I would never steal directly or take pictures. I am creative enough to use their ideas as a muse and not a copy machine.
I make sure I change my designs, even if it’s from a magazine or something I just saw out there.
Nice idea about asking obvious copycats if they want to take a class and learn about what they are trying to take pics of-but you’re right they are probably too cheap to take a class.
Well the best thing it to keep professional and be the bigger person-good luck all of you!
Funny thing happened at my most recent show
by: Terri Wlaschin
Afer saying no one ever takes pictures of my booth, I had an incident last weekend. Probably because I brought my girls with me all dolled up.(mannequin heads that is, in case someone was thinking something else). I turned around from talking with someone and there was a man kneeling on one need with a professional zoom lens shooting my display, right in my booth!!! I felt like I was in that sideways world on LOST. No can i take a picture, no nothing. Can you imagine my surprise? I asked him why he was taking a picture and he said he was local press. But showed no credentials – just gave me his business card. I told him I asked because I just read a blog about people copying other peoples displays and work. Turns out from talking with him, his wife is in the jewelry business. Now really, imagine my surprise. The next time I saw him, I stood right in front of the girls and he went away. I guess he didn’t want a picture of me. Hmmm, should I be insulted??
by: Mosaic Design
I find it really interesting to read all the experiences of the various artists at shows. I’ve been making jewelry for a long time but haven’t done too many shows (I had a really bad experience at the begging of my career and only got up the guts to do one last year, which was wonderful). I’ve been selling at galleries, jewelry stores and on-line. I have noticed some really bad copies of what I sell on my Etsy site popping up now and then which kind of irks me. But then again they are not my work and if someone wants a cheep copy they are certainly not going to spend the money on my pricier items. And my work is out there for everyone to see and or copy.
I have mixed feelings about the whole issue like a lot of people here. I love jewelry and like to buy jewelry from artists who make jewelry completely different from my own. I have a reverence for really well crafted work and can’t help but want to own some of it. As a result I am alway intensely perusing other peoples jewelry, I only buy work that has a lot of heart and soul put into it and is generally finely detailed. Last summer at the show I did I was admiring a pair of earrings in another booth with a friend (a encaustic artist). We had name tags for our booths and the artist assumed that we made jewelry and were attempting to copy her work. Instead of talking to us she rudely ejected us from her booth with some snide and catty remarks. Not only did she loose two customers for life but I will be sure to let people know how rude she was to me.
I’m in agreement with everyone who thinks that tact and politeness is the way to go after being on the receiving end of what felt like an attack. After all, you never know what striking up a conversation will bring you.
by: Jessica S.
What’s worse than a copycat in your booth? An intensely rude copycat in your booth…
Recently my family and i were at an outdoor craft show vendoring our handcrafted jewelry. A jewelry vendor walked in, browsed for a moment, picked up a jewelry stand and proceeded to say, “Oh this is nice but no where near as nice as mine.”.
Can you believe the nerve? I mean can you honestly imagine ever being so rude to do that?
Well, even though i felt very angry, i politely asked her to leave. Instead however she proceeded to call me rude for asking her to leave!
It was then i continued to ask her to leave and explained that it was my paid for retail space for the day and i had every right to ask her to leave. Long story short i had to go ask the park rangers, securing the event to escort her out. When i got back to the booth with the rangers she had left. But not before arguing with my 9 year old about her manners. You see when the woman wouldn’t leave, my daughter (as outspoken as i am) told her she couldn’t talk to her mother that way and “By the way your jewelry isn’t better, ours is!”. The 55ish something year old lady vendor actually thought it necessary to then argue with her…
The nerve of some people.
being inspired and plain copying are very different things
I have probably not done a lot of shows to experience anyone actually taking pictures of my work, but the first piece I sold was copied to the T! I was pretty annoyed, this person worked with me and as me, she also liked doing crafts , so she actually have bought my piece so she could copied. She made a necklace exactly as mine , what is worst is that one costumer asked and she passed it as her own design! After that I only wore pieces that were very classic and not at all something that have not been everywhere for a while. She was constantly checking to see what I have own! BUT SHE CLAIMED THAT SHE HAD A LOT OF IDEAS HERSELF! uhmmmm!
In the other side of this discussion, I have stop at many booth and admired other artist’s work, It is so inspiring to see what other people can come up with that you would never think of, but everytime I come to my studio, I can only create what is my own mind! I always say the copy would never be the original but being inspired by others work is not a bad thing, but It should always stay as just that, INSPIRATION!
It’s always been my understanding that you can not “Copyright” an idea, and even taking pictures does not ensure the fact that you OWN a design. You can own a pattern, and sell it, or give classes and charge for it. The one good thing about time stamped pictures would be to prove you made it first if they tried to claim you stole their idea. I have had friends try to “copy” my work, but usually they try it once, and realize that they’d rather get it from me.
A friend of mine had someone who asked her to make one bracelet in particular that I had taught her to make. She said “Of course! If I make it it’ll cost you $300.00 If “she” does it’ll cost you $50.00″. My friend knew I could do it faster, and better.
I get inspiration from other artists and will only buy something from them that I could not make myself. I love to see what others come up with, and admire much work that I know I could never do myself. Even if I do get inspiration I will not copy it 100 percent. I have seen a pair of earrings that I “designed” on my online venue in another sellers store but in a different color. EXACTLY the same. Who knows? Maybe we just think alike. How many times have you tried to follow a complicated pattern and it turned out exactly like a photo? Now I’m not talking about simple, one strand designs. And actually if you gave several jewelry makers the same products (there is a bead magazine that does this too) none of them will make the exact same thing. Even if they tried to, I don’t believe it would be the same.
I think artists, including MYSELF, are a bit snobby, snippy, and maybe controlling, along with creative and quirky. But it sure is FUN!
It’s always interesting to hear another perspective and it seems that you’ve encountered more than your fair share of copycats. With that said, I must take issue with part of your response:
“I get inspiration from other artists and will only buy something from them that I could not make myself. I love to see what others come up with, and admire much work that I know I could never do myself. Even if I do get inspiration I will not copy it 100 percent”.
Here’s the other side of the coin. As an artist, I find it most important to be original as possible; so copying even a fraction of another person’s work poses an ethical problem. Is it legal? Maybe. Can I walk into most jewelry artist’s booths and duplicate their work? Pretty much. Should I, even if it’s a fraction? Personally, it wouldn’t feel right. I avoid going into competitor’s booths.
I do find inspiration from other artist’s work. The internet is full of resources as are books, magazines, etc. However, I make it a point to support these artist’s creative efforts by purchasing their tutorials, books, etc. Is it expensive? Yes. However, it’s a business expense and I then have reference material that I can review over and over.
These events are that you attend are sales events unless advertised as otherwise. The price tags on the jewelry that “inspires” you represents hundreds of hours of work and thousands of dollars that have been invested in materials, training, business expenses, etc. I can guarantee you that the artist that drives distances to participate in a show, spends hours setting up the booth, with jewelry or other craft in tow, would much rather see your “inspiration” result in a purchase. This past weekend, I spent 20 hours under a tent in near 100 degree weather. Call me a mercenary, but I do it for the love of my art and to provide for my family, not to provide ideas to a competitor 🙂 Food for thought.
This response isn’t meant to be unkind, rather it’s to present another perspective. Apologies if I’ve misinterpreted your words.
Reply re: How to Handle Copycats
I think you did misinterpret my words, but that’s my own fault. What I meant with “I only buy from others what I can’t make myself” is that I realize they are better at that particular art, weaving, wire wrap, etc. and then I will buy it if I jsut can’t live without it. 🙂
I can’t feel good about spending money on things I can do myself, because I’m in business to make money, not spend it. And I never “copy” anything to sell. I don’t like it when people do that to me either. I do however, think we all get inspiration from others whether we know it or not, or admit it.
I’m also just very confused about why artists think they can OWN a design. One example is a woman I’ve been told about who thinks she invented the bent tube bracelet and tells others that they can not make them.
I DO value what work goes into certain designs, I have many of my own that I spend many hours working on. That was the point I was trying to make about my friend saying hers was $300.00, mine was $50.00 (because she had a very difficult time making it).
Use copycats as feed back
They say Imitation is the best form of flattery.
I tend to believe that, it all depends on how they go about it.
When it’s done on the sneak.The best I can do is take comfort in the fact that when when they are done with that stolen idea. that still leaves them Talentless and Unimaginative and looking for the next idea to steal. While I as a creative mind, go on to bloom new ideas and grow.
When It’s done politely, I’m happy to share information and probe for feedback or potential buisness. If they want to copy what your doing. then youre doing Something right. Find out what that is. Turn the negative into a positive.
As far as sources or supplies go. tell them you can get back to them on that at another time and take their info. If you feel generous, follow through. If not , at least you got some feedback.
copycats and copyrights
An artist cannot copyright an idea, but they can copyright a design. You might want to research copyright law to protect yourself in the future.
“What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.”
The artist that made the bent tube bracelet may very well have a legal claim. If she has copyrighted or files for a patent, she does have recourse. That could include reimbursement for legal fees, fines, and confiscation of the copies.
Taking a photograph of a piece of jewelry is called a “poor man’s copyright”. Whether or not it’s truly a copyright, the date stamp does provide proof of creation and provides valuable evidence in the event of a lawsuit.
There is also something called “moral law” which is associated with copyrighted material. It protects the integrity of a work and protects the artist. There is a very good explanation of this on Wikipedia. Moral law is more prevalent in Europe because of growing plagiarism on the internet. While enacted in the States in the 1920’s, it is not as well recognized here. I suspect that will change as plagiarism continues to grow.
Being aware of these laws is good business practice. It protects your work and gives you recourse should you find yourself being copied again. Also, you might want to reconsider copying a design even if you don’t sell the items you make. You could be opening a can of worms, so to speak.
You mentioned that “I can’t feel good about spending money on things I can do myself, because I’m in business to make money, not spend it.” As are all the other artists you encounter that “inspire” you.
Well, people can “interpret” these laws in any way that suits them. If it helps their case, they agree, if it hurts they disagree. I have read so many differing opinions on this subject lately, for jewelry artists, writers,and even musicians. Also some of the people involved in these discussions have mentioned the “Fair trade act”, that if I recall correctly, means that “I” can copy an item (or several) as long as I do not manufacture it or claim it as my own. Most of the time this was regarding fabrics and paper printed materials like invitations that use well-known characters and phrases. I, myself, would not do that. I really think this worry over copycats is getting out of hand. I had a jewelry item copied (as I stated earlier)
although I suppose we could have just dreamed them up individually and they’ll think I copied theirs, if they ever see them and didn’t copy mine. Mine have been out in the web sites for several years. Does that mean I should sue?
In the response about the legal aspects of
copying art I did not see jewelry, or anything like that listed.
I DO believe we have a “moral” duty not to copy and sell other artists work. But no one will convince me that we have a legal one.
It IS almost flattering when someone copies me.
And people who know me will purchase mine, and they know it’s a quality product. If they choose to buy the copy, so be it. And I still think I haven’t gotten my point across about selling and not spending. I have, and do buy from other artists, but I also get joy in trying to make it myself and learning new things by example or “inspiration”. And now, I’m done beating this subject to death. 🙂
copycats and copyrights
“Fair Trade Act
1. Former piece of state legislation that sought to protect manufactures from unreasonable price cuts by allowing them to determine their own minimum retail prices. The act was later eliminated in 1975 by Congress.
2. Legislation enacted in 1986 that protects consumers from misleading or abusive practices by producers. The legislation covers a wide range of actions. Some of the major provisions cover misleading information and conduct, falsified information, and pyramid schemes”.
Not sure how Fair Trade Act pertains to copying other artist’s work. The law is quite clear about protecting copyright, trademarks and intellectual property. Whether or not one chooses to observe is a personal choice. As someone who has studied law I take it quite seriously. Plus, it’s made quite a few lawyers wealthy.
Personally, the people who troll art shows and consider them a source for learning new techniques/designs/whatever make my skin crawl. Just how I feel and I can’t be convinced otherwise 🙂
I agree with Pauline Salvucci.This topic has open up a lot of different opinions. Having been in the advertising business for over 30 years my thought has been” no creation is really original”. We may think it is but that idea was created by something that you have seen some where at some time but how you assembled it may be completely new. As quite a few members have said, if someone tries to copy your creations it is never as good as yours anyway so why stress out about it. Many of the blogs and web sites with active members are very willing to share where they purchased there supplies and even where to get the best price, which I appreciate very much as I have only been doing this for a couple of years and being that I am 73 I don’t have the time to wait years to find it on my own.
As far a booth set ups, I have searched the web and also on another craft & art site asked for pictures and ideas to help a set up that would work for my items and the ease of it. I had several artists that replied with photo’s and where to see additional. For the short two years that my husband and I have been doing this, this is what I loved about the business, the sharing of ideas between everyone, but after reading all the comments, maybe I was wrong. I sure hope not.
Interesting point of view. My difficulty is with the attitude of people who troll art shows with a mercenary attitude. At a recent show, a woman grilled me for nearly twenty minutes about techniques. It was frustrating and a waste of time for both of us. It took my time away from other shoppers and she walked away without the information that she felt she deserved. Another woman actually started yelling at me. Is it fair that I’m yelled at because I’m trying to run a business? These people never buy anything. The people that purchase from me aren’t concerned how a bracelet is put together or other technical aspects. They buy it because it makes them happy. There is no agenda.
Information can be traded freely, but shouldn’t it be by mutual agreement? There are forums and other settings for the exchange of ideas. Cornering an artist and interrogating them at their booth is not one of them. It is so tiresome to encounter these people with an inflated sense of entitlement. Walking away from them is not an option and direct confrontation isn’t acceptable nor good for business. “Why stress”? It’s hard not to after working 50-60 hour weeks. This doesn’t include the time spent at shows, plus financial expenditures and time away from family. If I’m paying $250+ to participate in a show, my motive is to recover that money and make a profit. Giving away sources and teaching my techniques for free won’t help me to achieve those goals. Why people think this is acceptable is beyond me. I don’t mind making these sacrifices except when I’m forced to interact with these selfish people.
Finally, with complete respect for Loretta’s comments: I do understand. I’ve struggled with chronic health problems for years. I’ve learned to cope with my limitations. Time is not guaranteed for anyone. However, is my time and energy expendable because something is too time consuming or expensive?
Guess I should have clarified myself a little more as I do agree with some of the opinions. Taking your time and drilling you at a show when you can have a sale is totally unacceptable. As far as stress, I now what that can do as my husband just dodged the bullet from a major heart attack and he is one that stresses alot. In this economy, everyone is trying very hard to make a dollar and that’s probably the reason for many of the comments about copying. Until I got into this I never even had a passing thought about the millions of different ways jewelry can be made. I do sea glass and it boggles my mind to see so many ideas and ways to create something beautiful from that recaptured, recycled gem. My thought on the subject is” life is to short and just enjoy what you are doing and creating”.