09 September, 2011

Crafting ethics

For nearly two and half years (seven or eight if you count the years I've been thinking about it in my wee head and throw in another five for the years I spent in art college) I have been "lucky-rainbowing". My friends who know me well call my love of handmade craft "lucky-rainbowing" and think it's cute and apt for me. For what it's worth, I happen to think they are correct!

During this time I have fine tuned my style of making to that of a rustic, loose way of creating unique and custom cards. I have also built up some dedicated followers and buyers who remain loyal and come back to me time after time to request that something special for a friend or family member. This dedication I love and appreciate. Their loyalty is important to me and in many, many cases their positive word of mouth brings with it new and exciting customers. 

Behind the scenes and like others, I have tried out various methods and styles, checked out numerous blogs, watched videos, bought magazines and tested the market with all the above to see what works and what does not. I have been influenced by brilliant (and I mean brilliant) designers and creators and know that deep down some of their ideas often creep into my work, however in saying that I always try to create my own techniques by experimenting with different types of paper and materials. I do not engage in direct copy-cat techniques and believe there is a fine line between "being influenced" by someone and "directly copying" them. Often,I walk into my studio, sometimes with the intention of creating specific projects, sometimes to work on an idea I've had in my head and sometimes just to 'play'. All of it is important and all of it is therapeutic.

So, when you've put lots of effort and time into something you love or perhaps even what you consider your brand of style, what happens, when you see similar (or even exact!) techniques creep into the crafty items of someone you know? Is there a crafty code of ethics we should be all abiding by? Should we acknowledge the work of others in our own? Should it be viewed as craft-plagiarism or perhaps (and I can hear my mothers voice now...) accept it as a compliment? I'm all for taking an idea and improving it however what I am against is direct and blatant copying thus showing a lack of creativity to develop a personal style / brand.

It's very easy for someone to see you successful or good at something and think "I'll have a go of that" or my favourite "Sure I can do that!". Behind it all they fail to see that it's simply not just "making cards". It's getting to know a market, creating what people want and will buy, working into the wee small hours (for some, not always me) on your Twitter, Facebook, Etsy, blog page and website and maintaining a professional, working attitude at all times. For some of us, it's not a hobby, it's a way of life and for good friends of mine it's their livelihood.

Those who engage in copying and "Sure I'll give that a go" techniques threaten the livelihood and good intentions of those who create for the love of creating and who use their talent to pay their rent! I refer to talent in the strongest sense, anyone can purchase materials and stick them together but it takes those with said talent, creative foresight and a business acumen to really stick the market out and in the end (I hope) these will be the crafty people who are really successful and who, most importantly deserve success.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Have you ever had those moments where you see a handmade product and think "That's just like my...(fill in crafty item here)!!". Are you a little bit like me (and I feel a drop of shame admitting this) secretive in revealing how you created a certain technique or where you purchased a particular product for fear that someone will copy you or even....and dare I say it, do a better job?? I think we're all thinking about this subject and discussing it with our nearest and dearest, but with our crafty friends, it's probably a touchy subject!

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