The DIY Ethic: More Like Rip Off The Original Artist

A recent rash of posts have been going around the internet
about DIY and knock offs. Perhaps my favorite is DIY is not Duplicate It
.  Anyone who has been selling on
the internet has come into this, a less inspired and far less ethical person
will come along, order one of your items and start reproducing them. It happens
all the time especially in the craft world, many etsy sellers have made a living off this.

My first battle with this was in 2002 when I was selling my
original and handmade journals on eBay. I won’t go into the design or what not,
but I did some research online and found NOTHING like them at all. I was also
one of the first bookbinders to sell on eBay. A fellow craftsperson ordered one
of my books. Shortly after, I found my designs being sold on her website. I
also found that she was teaching people how to make my design. No credit was
given. I sent her a brief and friendly email asking her to stop teaching it or
to at least give me credit. The response? A terse “Great minds think alike.”
Apparently, especially so after you purchase one of my items and replicate it.

I have been asked on numerous occasions if I’ll replicate
someone else’s book design. I don’t and I won’t. I’ll make something similar
but in my own style but I will not copy someone else’s work. I had someone
email me a link to a very well known maker of leather journals and ask me how
much it would cost if I made them the exact same journal. My response? Double the price. I’m sure that they eventually found someone out there to
undercut the price, but I found it pretty sleazy that they would ask me to do
it in the first place. This happens so often to me that I no longer accept
custom orders. It’s not worth the aggravation.

So that brings me to my most recent issue. Does anyone know
who first started selling “Jotter” notebooks on Etsy? No, well it was me. Yep.
Look through the history of my sales and those of other bookbinders. I did a
lot of research on words that meant notebook but weren’t currently used. I wanted a term
that differentiated my item from everyone else’s. No one else on etsy used the term
until it was noticed that my little jotters were selling. When I complained
about it, I was told by several other crafters to quit my whining and get over
it. Really, from a group of crafters I got that, you know why I got that response?
Because I put the hard work into getting the name established, I busted my hump
pushing my product, sending samples to bloggers and getting positive response.
Then every bookbinder on Etsy was suddenly calling every small pocket sized
notebook a Jotter. Thanks crafters of Etsy, thanks. Sales bottomed out as Etsy was
now flooded with Jotters, my original notebook was lost among everyone else’s

Three years later the term Jotter is used by so many
crafters on Etsy I’ve considered changing the name but like I Was able to do with
my leather journals I get to say I’m the first and original.

The final point I wanted to make on this subject is how this
sort of thing affects me emotionally. Obviously I’m a little angry about people
using a term that I researched and put a lot of hard work into promoting. I
spent a lot of time and money making sure that my little notebooks were known
as jotters. I networked with the GTD community, sent samples out and managed to
guerilla market my notebooks as high quality, inexpensive and interesting. So,
yes, I was angry. I was even more angered but the “Get over it” response by the
crafting community.  I was told “It’s a common
word.” I was asked “Did you trademark it?” And worse yet, “I’m using it and I’m
not stopping.”

So it’s frustrating, angering and hurtful to have something
I worked so hard to create absorbed by the community and told to get over
it.  I’ve come to the conclusion that as
long as one is an innovator, has more ideas and creativity than the others in
their community they will be ripped off, co-opted and ideas will be stolen. It
hurt my wallet when people started to use the term jotter after I’d worked hard
to establish it.  People don’t realize
that when they use someone else’s idea they are stealing from them. They stole
from me all the research and hard work I’d done and hoped to cash in on.

So just remember, when you use  a design or an idea from another artist or
designer, you are stealing .

 *I will say that my little notebooks are not all that original. It's just a small pocket sized notebook, cut to fit in a back jeans pocket. And the covers are recycled.