I wasn’t sure how to start this post today. Originally, I was going to start off by talking about how wonderful this holiday season was for Life with Tigers. Craft fair sales have been excellent, new ideas are brewing and new opportunities to expand our little furry empire are on the horizon. In general, it’s exciting to start planning projects and products for the upcoming year, and the thought of making more of my tried and true favorites makes me very happy. New doll designs, on the way, severed legs-a-plenty in the works, and lovely new topiary designs have made their way from paper into production. And then this is where I got stuck, because I recently found something that stopped me in my tracks.
Somebody on Etsy has copied one of my products, spec by spec, and has begun to sell them as her own.
Now, I won’t say what item, and I certainly won’t draw any attention to this person by name for what she is doing, but it brought me into the ever growing world of creatives dealing with copyright violations, trademark infringement and the unpleasant taste of unscrupulous folks who have no respect for the creative process and what goes into making something from concept to completion. I was quite aware of the incidents involving major retail chains stealing ideas from small online businesses like those that appear on Etsy or BigCartel, and there is even a blog called You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice that chronicles incidents where independent artists and designers work has been blatantly ripped off. It is the risk creatives take when presenting their work to the world. And while the internet has made it super easy to steal somebody else’s ideas, it happens at art fairs, craft fairs, shops and galleries too.
Strangely though, when it happened to me this week, it wasn’t anger that welled up inside me, it was sadness. Anger is what happened when my bike was stolen from outside the laundromat. Sadness is when somebody takes something that was born from your imagination, brought into the world through your own pin-pricked fingers, and shared with other like-minded folks who then shared it again with people they love through gift giving.
And while there are things that can and will be done about it, my only small consolation is that the copies are quite ugly. I don’t think I have to worry about swimming against her bad imitations of my work in the Olympic-sized pool of the market place. As long as I keep creating, keep being innovative, original and keep producing items of the highest quality possible, I feel I will only have to swim against myself.