Saturday, October 24, 2015

How will Creatives Survive the New Economy?

I'm thoroughly discouraged. I have to sell my studio of 10 years because it's just too expensive and making a living selling my jewelry has become too difficult and sales have fallen off significantly over the past year. I blamed myself for a time but then, I happen upon things like this, and it reminds me it's not my fault.
BurOakStudio on Etsy - Copies my Smashed Knitting Needle Bracelets 
These bracelets sell for $10 from a casual Etsy seller, mine are $28. I can't afford to make them for $10 retail.  I know mine are better but most customers do not care, or they are not educated enough to see the difference. Price is the deciding factor, especially in this economy.

When I first put these on the market, I sold enough each month to pay the mortgage on my studio. Now I'm lucky if I sell one every other month.

Appropriation with out Consideration

This kind of appropriation happens all the time, especially from the Internet. Sites like Pinterest make it so easy to re-pin and share that the original source gets lost within a few pins, much like the original message got lost in a game of "telephone." 

What is more disheartening is the presentation by these "artists" that they just "came up with the idea". When I know they saw my work online and conveniently forgot. 

Before I started there were no "smashed knitting needle bracelets". Knitting needle jewelry existed, mostly from smaller needles like these from Sassafras Creations.

These pieces are much more professional than BurOakStudios work, shown below.

BurOakStudio misshapen needle bracelets
I was sad to see that Sassafras is closing shop soon. I wonder why? Is she having the same problem I am, that of appropriation and undercutting prices?

What do you do when you're full of ideas and others just steal them? Can you protect yourself without withdrawing and withholding completely? How is the Internet affecting creative people's (artists, writers, musicians) standard of living? 

Copyright and trademark protection is there, but only for those who can afford to register, document, keep track of and pursue infringers. Those kind of resources belong to corporations, not creatives. I put my copyright on every image I upload to the web, it seems to make no difference at all without a staff to pursue it.

I've even had an infringer copy this necklace, published in a magazine blatantly. Make 7 copies, post them on Etsy, claim them to be their work, and pay Etsy for top placement ads.

Copycat from Etsy listing 2013

Christine Marie Davis - smashed button necklace published in
Lapidary Journal Jewelry Arts magazine Dec 2012.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well they are wrong. 

I have stopped feeling motivated or safe sharing my ideas and images of my work, especially online. This greatly saddens me. I want to keep creating, I want to share, I want to inspire others but I need to make a living and not give away my time, energy, ideas and work. How is this possible?


  1. So sorry to hear you're forced to give up. Really a sad story. I've read so many like it. The joy of the internet is the opportunity to see so much more than we used to. And the curse is it's all out there to be stolen. It seems the answer is not to use the internet, but then those of us with no intention of stealing your intellectual property won't be able to see it. I hope you find a way to keep up your profession; you really are a talented artist.

    1. Thank you for your reply. I am not giving up, but I am looking for a new way of doing things. I don't know what that is yet. Time off the Internet is probably a good thing but there are less and less other options: for communication, as many print magazines are going completely digital.

  2. I don't know what to do about copycats. But, you may feel empowered and understand your rights better after taking the free online class, CopyrightX. I took it two years ago and it was a great experience. They are looking for artists to join the class. Want to apply?

  3. I understand TOTALLY ! That is why I don't have an Etsy shop, etc. If something is posted after hours(days/weeks/months) of research and planning, hours or days of execution and seen on Etsy, someone will see it and make something similar, selling it for one penny less. Then _____ (some foreign country) will see it online and sell it for 50% less. And - the pirated items don't have the "soul" of the artist in them. There ARE groups out there trying to combat this problem though, and I give highest praise to such companies as "Pixie Faire" who work to support craftsman and creators. I understand your discouragement, but I must say that this is simply an opportunity for growth. A brief break from the internet is perhaps refreshing and soul saving. However, it is here to stay and it is a tool. Like any other tool, we must just be creative in our business practices as well as our artistic pursuits and think of a way to use the internet, etc., that is helpful to artists instead of stealing their very souls. There must be a way, and we just need to find it. So sorry you are having to go through this right now. Know that you are not alone and there is a way beyond this; we just must create it.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. Sounds like you have a good understanding of the situation. Yes it's time for a change in many ways. You are right the internet is here to stay and a good tool, but maybe a break, or an intern! I'll ck out the company your suggested Pixie Faire. Take care and keep in touch.