what an insult that was a child, to call someone a copy cat! of course as you get older, and when you work in a creative field you begin to realize there are very few completely original ideas. it's impossible, and probably not even advisable. we all learn and are inspired by those who work in a similar field. as our world grows, we no longer sit in sewing circles or work in artist communities perhaps as much as we once did. our communities have expanded to an online world, where boundaries of "inspiration" and "copying" often get blurred. i know of many artists who have been frustrated to see their work appear in other online shops, made by other hands. recently, however, i have seen something much worse. i visited a local shop before christmas and immediately recognized the work of two artists i admire, ashley anna brown and stephanie congdon barnes. i asked how much the shop was selling them for and was told 9 dollars!! i knew something wasn't right, so i came home and googled it and found ashley's post. sadly, someone has purchased many items from etsy in order to copy and mass produce them. apparently there is a catalog of these items sent to stores, who knowingly or i suspect most often unknowingly, purchase them wholesale for their store.
this is such a sad occurrence, because i know how many hours go into each creation. i know how little money is actually made from these endeavors. to see a company knock them off and sell them for so little, is truly disheartening. having to compete against another handmade seller is one thing, but a large seller manufacturing your work cheaply in china isa much larger issue. i could really go on and on about this, but i just wanted to help raise awareness about this. ashley is doing a lot to try and stop this company from ripping of not only her work but others as well. i appreciate her efforts. she contacted me personally to let me know the same buyer had purchased some of my work, and i know she is doing the same for others. she has hired a lawyer to help her through this process. i really hope it works out well.
i also think it is important to keep educating everyone on the difference between buying something that is handmade, and something that looks handmade. i see the "handmade" label used everywhere these days, including large chain stores. i know that the handmade movement has grown incredibly over the last few years. it is wonderful to see true handmade artistry honored, and to see artisans hopefully making some sort of a living from it. sadly though, as it gains popularity it loses everything that makes it special... it goes from buying unique hand crafted items from the artist, to a marketing concept to sell mass produced "handmade looking" knockoffs, that are made from shoddy materials, in questionable conditions, by who knows who? i am not guilt free in this, none of us are. it makes you realize how important it is to think about what you are buying and whether it better to have more for less, or less at a better quality.