Julie Green, from UpUpCreative, gave me the low down on the crafty scene in Rochester, New York. Julie is a talented graphic designer whose work is bright & bold. She’s also the brains behind the Each Penny Pretty design blog. Check her out on Twitter!
This week my post focuses on an issue that many designer-makers worry about – having designs copied. Unfortunately, it happens often and sometimes even by large retailers, making independent designers feel powerless. This is what happened to Eloise of HidenSeek and in the first of a two-post series, I talked to Eloise to learn about her experience.
In November 2009, Eloise became aware that stationery retailer Paperchase was selling a range of items, tote bags, notebooks and other paper goods, with a design that contained a girl that appeared to be traced from one of her artworks. The items were sold both in the UK and in the US and Eloise was alerted to the issue by concerned friends and fans.
“After a bit of panic, bewilderment and tea I contacted Paperchase, being sure that they wouldn’t want to have any part in copyright infringement,” Eloise explained. The company’s representatives replied that they thought the designs were substantially different and they were unwilling to take any action. “They seemed to imply that since the designs would not be reprinted after that run, it wasn’t a big deal anyway. After I explored my options and looked into hiring a lawyer, finding it impossibly expensive, I decided to just go public with my problem and seek for support from my fans and the community.”
Here’s where social media can come in extremely handy, as it enables the very fast distribution of messages to a global community. “It took innumerable complaint letters from people who read about my story, globally trending on Twitter, many newspaper articles and dozens of blog posts around the internet for things to start moving on the side of Paperchase.
“Finally, the designer that created the infringing design admitted that she had traced over the girl from my work. It should be noted that I never received any communication after the first reply for Paperchase regarding the matter and they only indirectly mentioned me in a kind of public semi-apology where they tried to set themselves up as a victim. Paperchase did remove the infringing designs from UK circulation but never offered compensation or settlement with me and they are still sitting on all the money they made from a known infringing design.”
When it came to the handmade community, Eloise explained that the vast majority of artists, designers and makers that she saw and met were very vocal about the issues. “Everyone tweeted, re-tweeted, blogged and wrote letters to Paperchase. I felt how other makers were empathising and putting themselves in my shoes, and that of course led to them speaking out in my support. It’s worth noting though that people from Etsy did write about my case and others in a personal capacity on the Etsy main blog and well done to them for taking a stand where other big names didn’t.”
“Certainly there was a lot of traffic back then and I’m still mentioned here and there when it comes to similar cases of infringement, but I wouldn’t wish anyone exposure like that because it did come with a price. The levels of stress were unbelievable. If this experience helped me at all, was because it was a crash course in real life media crises and I came out much more strong and confident.”
Check back next week when my post will feature top tips for protecting your work from infringement – and how to handle it if the worst happens.
Athens, Georgia, known for its enormous college and crazed football fans, also has an engaging artist community. One market is not enough to contain them all. Athens Farmers Market, in Athens, and Oconee Farmers Market, in nearby Watkinsville, feature fresh produce, and handmade goods from March to November each year.
Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
“Today’s crafters are no longer interested in simply cross-stitching samplers or painting floral scrolls on china. Instead, the contemporary craft movement embraces emerging artists, crafters, and designers working in traditional and nontraditional media. Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching has revolutionized the embroidery industry. Each year Nikki McClure sells thousands of her cut-paper wall calendars. Emily Kircher recycles vintage materials into purses. Stephanie Syjuco manufactures clothing under the tag line “Because Sweatshops Suck.” These are just some of the fascinating makers united in the new wave of craft capturing the attention of the nation, the Handmade Nation.
Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos. For Handmade Nation (along with the documentary film of the same name, coming in 2009) she and Cortney Heimerl have selected 24 makers and 5 essayists who work within different media and have different methodologies to provide a microcosm of the crafting community. Participants in this community share ideas and encouragement through websites, blogs, boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs. Together they have forged a new economy and lifestyle based on creativity, determination, and networking. Twenty-four artists from Olympia, Washington, to Providence, Rhode Island, and everywhere in between show their work and discuss their lives. Texts by Andrew Wagner of American Craft Magazine, Garth Johnson of Extremecraft.com, Callie Janoff of the Church of Craft, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com, and Susan Beal, author of Super Crafty, supply a critical view of the tight-knit community where ethics can overlap with creativity and art with community. Handmade Nation features photographs of the makers, their work environment, their process, their work, and discussions of how they got their start and what motivates them. Handmade Nation is a fascinating book for those who are a part of the emerging movement or just interested in sampling its wares.” → more info
The spring craft market circuit is really starting to get fired up! This is an off week for me – but I attended shows the last two weekends. Craft markets are a great way to find local crafters & designers in your area and support local tourism at the same time. So I decided to peruse craft show listings to find inspiration for this week’s Shop Local post.
The Spring Bada-Bing, in Richmond, VA really jumped out! The show is in it’s fourth year and is hosted by the Richmond Craft Mafia (a member of the Austin Craft Mafia family) – whose slogan is “rubbin’ out the massed produced.” The SBB is held at the Plant Zero Arts Center, a community center with space for studios & apartments for artists, a cafe, & exhibition space. This year’s SBB will be help on Sunday, April 19 from 11 am – 4 pm.
A member of the Richmond Craft Mafia, Tasha McKelvey is a clay artist specializing in kitchenware & ceramic jewelry. She prides herself on creating art that is meant to be used & touched. She says, “today our homes are filled with stuff stamped out by machines. When we seek out handmade art we make our surroundings a little more human.”
I’ll admit it – the skulls caught my eye on this one! Crystal J. Silk uses traditional silk painting and dying techniques but creates anything-but-traditional patterns. Her work is vibrant, graphic, and quite hip. What would the boardroom think if you paired this silk scarf with a boring blank suit? Or just dressing up a T and jeans?
Erica Vess, who created this adorable “Up, Up & Away” digital print, is the brains behind BeesKneesStudio. Erica is VA born & raised and holds a BFA in painting & printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also creates acrylic paintings, tiny watercolors, and fine art prints.
Craft is certainly alive in Richmond, VA. Do you know of an emerging craft community? Please drop me at line at tara AT handmadeinpa DOT net.