Friday, December 18, 2009

Look Familiar?

Please please someone tell me what to do about this:

I never thought it would happen, but it has.
I am kind of beside myself.

To continue after having a minute to calm down, I am devastated. When a beloved customer alerted me to the copying I thought, "Wow! This is exciting!" until I saw her work, saw that four or five design ideas had been lifted directly from my own: she had traced them somehow, perhaps via the computer screen.
Peacock Feathers.
Dog collar colorations and font.
The beloved koi.

That's the one I cannot stop crying over: that's my baby, the result of so much drawing, wishing and hoping when I first began this journey three years ago.

Do I have to give it up?
Is there nothing that can protect me?
Am I screaming into a void?


The Noisy Plume: said...

Oh sister.
Do I EVER feel your pain.
Unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it. You simply must trust that people will seek out the original and NOT support the rip off artist.

I'm really really sorry but this is the nature of Etsy -- a realm where, for the most part, people are perfectly happy re-creating the hard work of others and claiming it as their own.

It's pitiable really.
There can not be any fulfillment found in this kind of work. Feel sorry for her and then move on to bigger and brighter things, it's what I do.


Autumn2May said...

I'm so sorry honey, but your's is much pretty then theirs is! Unfortunately if you haven't copyrighted your designs, then there is nothing you can do. ~hugs~ It sucks that people stoop to coping others instead of making original pieces. I would just try to ignore it and move on. Or if it is really bothering you, you could always send them a message and see if they'll stop. Good luck! ~hugs again~

::mari:: said...

I have to say Jillian's right...

...but it also might be worth writing to this person and commenting simply but firmly that these are your designs, and she/he is clearly appropriating them as her/his own, and it's unacceptable.

You can call out the seller in a convo, at least, and then he or she will know that it's been identified.

You also might look into copyrighting your work, although I hear that's incredibly difficult to do.

I'm sorry this is happening to you, love. Your work is so good that people were bound to try to latch onto your creativity at some point. It sucks, but it is the nature of the less imaginative and less creative to try to reap the benefits of the hard working, blooming people like yourself who put the light into the world ... they just want to capture it and bottle it for their own profit.

Love to you in this tough time.

susie said...

I laughed out loud when I clicked and read in the description that the artist was inspired by a famous Chinese artist.

I know its no consolidation, but I seriously doubt she can sing, play piano, and bend silver at her will. You are a force to be reckoned with, and you do amazing work. Nothing negates that. Wishing you well (and sending you snow flurries from St. Louis). Take care.

::mari:: said...

P.S. Susie--I didn't read that! Allison, why didn't you ever tell me you were a famous Chinese artist?!

Love love and more love (and, OK, a big hearty wink to cheer you),

P.P.S. If you want to talk it out, you know you can call or write anytime. I'm here!

Jaime said...

Oh I feel your pain, I really do! Like Jillian mentioned, I often think that etsy breeds a certain amount of this. I sit down and draw and sketch out each and every piece, and it always amazes me that people out there feel they can skip this step and just "borrow" ideas. I think to myself - " how do they sleep at night?" knowing that they probably do just fine, not caring that they are sponging creatively off someone else.
keep your chin high and remember that you the ARTIST. Nothing can bring down the wonderful work you do.

Katherine said...


I'm remembering vividly how I felt when I found entire sermons of mine published on other pastors' websites.

It's not just the injustice, it's that it's such a deeply personal theft.

I did write extremely pointed emails to the plagiarizers, and they took the material down. I don't know if it would work the same way here. They are clearly copies, though as it has been mentioned, they are also clearly not as skillfully crafted as yours.

I guess the risk of contacting the person is that they could ignore or deny. You can't depend on their response to give you satisfaction; the only satisfaction you might claim is from speaking the truth. Kindly but boldly, respectfully but plainly.

Emily said...

I would (I hope) do two things:

1) Start copyrighting your new designs. I don't think it is all that difficult/expensive. I have not heard that it is. From my understanding the difficulty comes in legal protecting a copyright-not in getting one in the first place. You could at least do it with ones that you feel are *especially* exceptional, original, just plain awesome, etc. Then, should this continue (which it probably will!) you can at the very least send a letter from a lawyer notifying them of your copyright and requesting that they cut it out. While it probably wouldn't make any sense to actually go after them it does seem like it has a good chance of being the scare they need.

2) Yes, contact them yourself! Hopefully it will be the type of person who will realize the error of their ways and seek a new path. At least they will know that you know and how you feel about it.

Hmmmm, I'm not sure what it would mean that they are not based in the US...

Anyways, you are wonderful and your work is SO much more beautiful and complete than any mere shell of the original. And all that good stuff that Jillian said... :)

I can't really imagine how you must feel. I get upset enough about it when it is other people. Oh dear.



Dave said...

My sister is married to a lawyer... she's up in the Twin Cities... I thought she worked on trademarks.

Frankly... go after them with evidence to how long you have been selling identical and have them Cease and Decist or you will have legal proceeding started.

There will be evil always... and sometimes it's called competition. At 52 working in business all my life, I feel I've been on both side and the best strategy is always to do better, differentiate, and kick their butt.


Dave said...

my thought on copywriting designs is that it's a waste of money... litigating is what counts... Without spending money on copywriting, you own the copywrite. You created it, you sold it, you published it... it will win in a court of law. Stand firm and just say, my people will talk to you.


Sunny Rising Leather said...

Amazing Women and Dave,

You have helped me see how not alone I am right now.
I wrote a respectful, pointed convo and I hope it is well-received.

It's all I can do for now. Will be in touch with a lawyer after the holidays are over.

I love you all,

liz r. said...

Just saw this post--I'm so sorry, Allison. You're not alone, for sure. Support being sent across the miles from Maryland!

Good Girls Studio said...

familiar, yes...the same NO!I was looking & her "work" & thinking that something is missing... It is definitely without your soul & passion & love & exuberance that comes from within when you create your designs! Praying you find peace in this situation. {hugs}

MrsLittleJeans said...

Wow Allison! I am so sorry. I am with Miss Plume and others that not much can be done but it would be important that you contact her. She could have easily contacted you and asked for permission, and you would have said "yes" knowing you. Then she could have acknowledged you as the source and done this the ethical way. I think you need to do this, however, detach yourself from negative emotions. The source of all wrongdoing is ignorance.

Love and light...and do smile!

Michelle - Revelate said...

Oh geez.

Been there. In that exact spot.

I always say that the person who said -imitation is a form of flattery- was in fact the imitator and not the originator.

TOO MANY times have I been faced with the ignorance and violent disrespect of a person who has stolen a precious piece of creativity that came straight from the center of my soul.

And it always makes me want to vomit.
I'm not sure I will ever understand the reason why people would think it is okay to do such a thing...

What I DO KNOW... is that creating, for me, is something that I must do to live. It is like filling my lungs with oxygen, every cell in my body dancing with delight.

So, I keep creating.
I keep creating.

I trust that the people who find what I create will feel and see the endless joy and love that I put into every piece I create.

What is genuine cannot be re-created. It just IS.


RosyRevolver said...

Just saw this. I'm so sorry, Allison. Trust me when I say this other person is copying out of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.

I agree with those who said you should contact her. IMHO, it will both show that you will stand up for your work and not take this lightly . . . and it might just help her too.

Sometimes people need to get terribly lost before they find a way home.


The Noisy Plume: said... know, the most fascinating thing to me, in all of this is that this girl is selling her work/your original ideas on Etsy as if you and your supporters would never notice it!!!?

I just sent you another convo and I'll say it here again, I'm thinking of you a heap this morning.

jordan said...

you're the best at what you do. no one will ever compare, even if they try their hardest. like someone else said, plagiarism always lacks the passion and drive that was involved in the creation of the original. people can see and feel that in your work. know that there's a mountain of support for you as an original, amazing, inspiring artist.
love to you from me

~Heather~ said...

I think your work on both of your shops scream originality. It shows in your work and in your blog. It is so unfortunate that this happened to you. I think sometimes people can inspire others but to totally rip off there designs is not cool. When I first started out on my metalsmith journey I realize that at one point I stepped too close to someone elses design. In all honesty, not meaning too and not even realizing that I did it. But when realized I stepped back and moved in a different direction. I felt really bad because it wasn't an intentional thing, but I learned alot from that situation. But..... this is very different. This is compltely stolen from you. This is multiple designs stolen, ideas that took lots of work on your end. I would also approach this person, stand up for your hard work and ideas. Inspiration is one thing but stealing is another. I think if this person was just truly inspired by you, they would see there mistakes, admit to them, and walk away, but with multiple copied designs, wow, I don't know, how embarrasing for them. Did they not think that these would be seen by you?!? I wish you the best out of this situation but by no means, never give up! Your customers, your blog readers, friends, etc., we admire your work, we love seeing your new posts, and your new ideas that only you could come up with. You are a strong woman with beautiful ideas, all of us on here see that and stand by your side.

P.S. 2 things... 1. Your work is way better (because it was your idea, and that shows) 2. I always look forward to reading your blogs and seeing your work :)

Corinna said...

Oh dear, Allison, I am so sorry.

First of all, I would like to say that when I wear something that you have created, it has (and always will have) a life in it that came directly from you. Directly from lovely, courageous, open, beautiful you.

Anyone who wears and appreciates art that was created in a moment of love and inspiration will feel it in the piece. And no item that was made in a factory, or made in a moment of theft and immitation will feel that way, EVER.

That being said, it's not that such pieces will not be made, sold, bought and worn. It happens all the time, in all corners of the globe, and it is what makes your work, and work like yours, like this precious breath of fresh air and hope and SALVATION in a sea of objects that have no history, no presence, no art.

What I lament most about this theft, is that it might change what you do, and I worry that your work will acquire an added layer of policing that will be taxing, and ugly, and ultimately (perhaps!) unsatisfying. If you choose to go the legal route, I wish you all the best, and sincerely hope that some sort of justice will be done. But I don't want this to hurt you more than it has.

We all think the absolute WORLD OF YOU!!


Taddyporter said...

Dearest Dear: How devastating for you to see work that has CLEARLY been copied; legal theft+ yes, bad karma+yesyes. I respect how you are handling this. Keep it clean, make your words count, be direct. Sending a note to this person is the best way to handle an utterly disappointing situation. Try to meditate a bit on finding peace(we love you so much and want your tender heart to not act up)in the matter. You are not powerless in any way, you have stood up and said your piece. Please know how much your kindness and goodness has influenced those around you(me!); sometimes others see that and greedily(and often ignorantly) want more. Do not stop being your wonderful self, you are the BEST, sweet angelgirl. Love to you on this day.

gallerydarrow said...

I'm sorry Allison. There is nothing more infuriating than having your work plagiarized by a Wallmart copycrafter. Jillian is the one to speak to she's had to endure this syndrome ad nauseam. It's really the one thing that makes me wonder if I really want to sell my work this way.
I hope you can resolve things quickly and get back to the joy of creating.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Allison, but this is karma. You've done it too. To me. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

dailycoyote said...

In a discussion of authenticity, why would the commenter above (3:03PM) post such words anonymously?

Jaime said...

dailycoyote said...
In a discussion of authenticity, why would the commenter above (3:03PM) post such words anonymously?


I was thinking the exact same thing...

jordan said...

to anonymous 3:03...if you have nothing better to do than make an already distraught, not to mention wonderful, kind and amazingly creative, person further upset, i feel sorry for you. why not come forth as who you are? this is just outright mean-spirited commentary from you and has no place here.

Taddyporter said...

don't let the pettiness of others get to you babycakes, you rock our world.....

Anonymous said...

I wrote that, because it's true.

What she did to me & a few mutual friends from her past was extremely hurtful, if not downright distressing, and it seemed that all these loving, supportive comments here were going to allow her to overlook a lesson that I really wish she'd take to heart.

It's never okay to steal other people's ideas & claim them as your own.

I really didn't mean to be outright mean-spirited, but I will admit to feeling some evil satisfaction at seeing this issue come full circle. It's been eating away at me for years! So, I apologize ANONYMOUSLY to those I've offended. The gremlin inside me could not resist.

What IS mean-spirited is posting a public link to the accused offender's shop, without even giving her the chance to defend herself or right the alleged wrong in a dignified way.

Allison should give the poor girl a break, because she herself has admitted to such mistakes right here on this blog, "It took near alienation from beloved friends when I stepped too close to their designs on my epic journey to authenticity."

I agree that Allison is amazingly talented or I wouldn't still be watching her career and, despite myself, continually routing her on... anonymously.

Call it tough love. Call it sour grapes. Whichever you prefer. She should trust that her many gifts are good enough as is.

tmbarclay said...

To Anonymous…..I find your postings interesting on several points:
1) You criticize Allison for identifying, and providing a link to someone who has blatantly stolen her designs, yet you anonymously discuss her copying your work, and the work of others without proof. Without evidence, your extensive criticisms sounds merely like unfounded allegations. So, sour grapes it is……
2) Moreover, you claim it happened years ago…..apparently time does not heal all wounds. Why would you decide now to openly mock an individual that apparently harmed you years ago. That is what makes your posting so difficult to take seriously. Is it alright to come out of the wood work years later and point fingers and have people support your accusations? And to hide behind an anonymous posting makes your allegations even more difficult to take seriously.
3) Did you discuss your sentiments to Allison over the years? Did you do so privately? Or is this the venue you chose…….Again, you criticize Allison for making a public statement, and yet you do the same….on the very same blog!!!
Mistakes are made by all of us. Therefore, I always live by the adage that “it isn’t what we did, it’s what we do now”. Whatever your reasons or rationale, I wouldn’t invoke karma in case it now decides to pay you a visit……

Runs4fun said...

man alive. what the heck is wrong with people??? Allison---you are a gem. and you are the creme de la creme and you WILL rise above. i am sorry for this recent bout of trouble, and sorrier still that the 'anonymous' one---is so obviously all-too-ready to attack, and cowardly (at best). i am---terribly disenchanted by the immature and pathetic behaviours i've now seen---directed at you, AND also at dear Jillian. jealousy---is so very unattractive. and---top it off with a heaping serving of PURE and utter selfishness...and there you have it. there are so many intricacies to the world of copyright laws....i don't know what to say.

all i can do is say, that i support you and appreciate the lovely items----you so lovingly craft.

i wish i could console you, but alas---this is one of those times, i'm feeling quite inadequate.

thinking of you...

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Whoa - wow.

I spent the day with Anthony's family and came home to see this post has blown up like a volcano: I will be closing the comments down in a minute here to help resolve the tension.

I actively encourage anonymous to contact me at for a full debriefing of who they are and what I did, because I have not one iota of a clue about this whole situation.

This mysterious wave-maker did have a good point: I have taken the link down - I put it up in a moment of distress on a personal blog: a web log, if you will, and I forgot that I am widely read.

As for those of you who showed up via comments, emails, convos and phone calls I am filled beyond the brim with gratitude and love.

I was sitting with my extended family tonight playing chickenfoot and laughing uproariously about the game and our poor playing of it and I just realized over and over again that I truly the luckiest girl I know, surrounded as I am with good people who love well.

I love you all, even the ones without a name and big beef with me. May you, too find absolute peace.