Monday, October 27, 2014

On Being Robbed

I promised you this blog, because, well, many of us creatives have found ourselves in the predicament of being robbed. Not of our money, or our purse, or our house. It's worse. Its the thievery of our brilliant original ideas, the raping of our muse.

I have had this happen one time too many for my likes, and they have always been in "my backyard".

The first time- I got a phone call from someone who had seen my work. She came over and bought some of my cards, asked about how I did them and where I got my ephemera, etc. Me, being the ever eager beaver, believing in honesty and transparency, told her the how, what, whys of my work.
 Shortly she and a few other artists went into business printing up cards made out of collages. Two artists were very different than me, but one of them, guess who, made cards similar to mine. I sulked about that for a while, then moved on. And, later on, after the business folded,  she and her daughter came back to buy from me, and all ended well.

The second time someone else saw my work and decided to make similar  to sell in her shop. At least she wasn't hitting the same stores that sold my one-of-a-kind pieces. I don't think she does it anymore - and because I liked her,  I just let it go. Besides, I liked her store and to this day continue to shop there.

Then the other day a friend calls me and tells me that she thought she saw my cards in a shop where I had been selling, but she noticed they were not my cards, rather the owner was creating similar cards.  WHAT? AGAIN? IN MY OWN BACKYARD? Why does she feel the need to do this...she has a successful business and art career blah blah blah. SHE DOESN'T NEED TO DO CARDS.
I thought of boycotting the business, but I like what they have, and I need to be able to be kind to this person as our paths cross, and again, I like her. 

We create our works of art/craft, whether card, collage, painting, etc., with our hearts and souls. As artists we are also doing the hustle, juggling a lot of balls to pay the bills.  So when your precious idea is stolen, and someone else making money on what you thought was your idea, in your own backyard, it is just a little bit annoying.

But wait, IS my work original, or did I piggyback off someone else's ideas? After all, I have the story of how I came to making cards on a sticker on the bag that holds the card, and it clearly states that I was inspired by the women of the 1800s who made Valentine cards with their families! Am I really that different, as I swiped their ideas! And didn't I get the idea for sewing some of my papers from another artist? And don't great designers and chefs get "ripped off" all the time? Do they sit and sniffle about it--- or do they go and create the next great thing?!

The reality is, we all borrow/steal/imitate in some form or another. It's what we do with it that determines how creative we can be.  It's been persistence,  the love of what I do, and my business savvy that has kept me in business for 20 years.  I figure if the competition's cards look too much like mine, I will shift gears and do something else.  Because in the end, no one is like me, no one can create or think like me! And maybe that is a good thing!