18 April 2014

To be {you}, or not to be

My foray into selling one of my prints was shortlived, my friends. The other day, I opened the Felt homepage and my heart sank when I saw some alphabet art featured using a very similar typeface to my Be You print. To say I was horrified is beyond an understatement. When I first started toying with the idea of creating alphabet art to sell, I considered making a 'Hi' print, but I had a feeling that I had seen it before. A quick google search yielded several versions of the idea, so I opted for my phrase instead.

It is a terrible feeling to think that someone else has stolen your idea. Feeling very dismayed, I clicked on this seller's listing and noticed that the print has been advertised for some time, judging by the number of views it had amassed. It is quite obvious that my version arrived on the market later. So, now it looks like I'm the copycat. Hand on heart, it was purely coincidental. Even though the highlighted words are different, the similarities between my version and theirs were just too hard to ignore.  I may rework my design using a different font at some point, but to me, it was an easy decision to withdraw my listing. I would absolutely hate to be labelled as a plagiarist and if the situation was reversed and I discovered that someone else was 'borrowing' my ideas, I would hope that they too would take the matter seriously.

This whole issue around copyright is such a murky beast. The internet is in turns an amazing place to seek inspiration but it also makes it so much more difficult for people to protect their ideas and creations. How many ideas pass into people's subconscious, and without realising it, get passed off as their own with no credit to the source? Who could ever possibly know where the original idea came from in the first place? I use Pinterest very rarely for the reason that I may become too overly-influenced by others' work, as you can probably tell by how few pins my page has.

Copyright breaches are not limited to occurring between small players either. It has been a long-held belief in creative circles that large companies take ideas from independent designers, the most recent example being the newly-launched bedding and decor range in a well-known Antipodean chain store. How much of it is accidental or blatant copying with little regard for the owners of the original designs remains to be seen, but it is certainly the talk of social media at the moment and could be quite damaging to the store's reputation. Have a look at two products on the left that I pulled from the website in question and judge for yourselves:

The raindrop cushion on the right is made by ZΓΌ, a French label.
The bear and triangle fabric on the right is an Andrea Lauren design.

Eye-opening isn't it? I don't know about you but it has certainly changed my view of this particular retailer. There will always be demand for cute, well-made products and often it is the price point that will determine whether someone buys it. I accept that not everyone can afford or wants to pay for designer labels. However, would it not be prudent for large companies to pay independent designers and work with them instead of taking the idea and designs without credit or compensation? Or do they assume that consumers won't notice, or don't care?


  1. I am sorry that you had to decide to withdraw your alphabet art but I do understand. I am creating sock patterns for my own enjoyment and my blog readers but would be too worried to market the patterns because I am sure whatever I do is already out there. I don't use Pinterest at all. Enjoy your Easter weekend. I am sure you have plenty of creative ideas up your sleeve. xx

  2. Its a sad fact of the big companies yet again monopolising the market....they really make it impossible for little ma and pa company's to make their mark and compete especially when its hard for our psyche to resist a bargain.

  3. Oh Poo Bums! Heartbreaking but phew, good for you pulling your product. I am sure you will succeed being so full of awesome ideas and beautifully executed. Copyright and people stealing ideas on purpose is a nasty business... Tricky tricky. Happy Easter to you and yours x