Monday, September 15, 2008

Imitation or Inspiration

Inspiration or Imitation, and why I care.

The battle rages, and among beaders, no less. Is it kosher to copy someone's design if they see it as a tutorial project someplace, and recreate that project, then sell it? I'm not talking about the whole "Who invented peyote?", which everyone knows is not the point. I am talking about using someone else's exact design and making a profit from it, without permission from the original creator. Sometimes there is a very distinct line between inspiration and imitation, as in my case.

This is my original O-ring design, first sold online in my own site, then published in Step by Step Beads and referenced on Beading Daily. I sell many versions of this, and people recognize it as one of my signature designs, especially the use of the rubber ring and rubber cord, and the prominent inclusion of the thread as part of the design.

These other pendants were found online, on the same art-for-sale Web site where I sell my work. Let me ask, inspiration or imitation? Should I care? They were underselling me, too.
My blog, my rant. One artist was nice enough in their reply to my request to stop selling my design, the other didn't at all understand why I was angry and was actually quite spiteful.

Go figure. You'd think we beaders would look out for each other in a world where overseas producers are ripping off artists left and right!


  1. Imitation. Clearly. I have no issue with people copying others work; it is when they try to compete for profit with the originator. If they want to make their own copies to wear, I would be ok with that, but once money starts to change hands, no dice. All money for an original design should go to the originator.

  2. Leslie, At every show we see porcelain which someone copied from us; the worse case is when pieces are made in multiples and sold for pennies.This dilemma is made more difficult by the internet and of course etsy where everything is lol free. The artist trying to make a living is clearly challenged.

    Your designs are very unique and recognizable as your brand. Good Luck. Joan Tucker Off Center

  3. Hi Leslie;

    I've just been reading about this on the BD forums, which brought me to your blog. I've had my designs copied without permission and like you, when I approached the person, I got a spiteful (vitriolic would be a better word!) reply - hmmmm, maybe she felt guilty? I like to think I am a fair minded and generous beader, but unfortunately it's not always a two way street :0(

    Kerrie :0)

  4. I often worry about selling pieces I've made that use techniques I learned from beading mags. But I can't imagine trying to sell something that was so obviously identical. There's a BIG difference between inspiration and imitation.

  5. Yes, quite clearly imitation. Colour and beads identical. Many times I have used mag articles as inspiration and fully admit to it, but would never use exactly the same beads and techniques and pass it off as my own.
    Even when using the inspiration with different components, I try to ask the person I was inspired by whether they are happy with me using the design.