Thursday, September 29, 2011

Should you sell jewelry you learn from a published project or in a class?

This is the real hot button topic, isn't it? I've been engaged in a very lively discussion with Cindy,  a new fellow beader. She's agreed to allow me to share our exchange thus far, and we'd both be interested to hear opinions and possible solutions to this and related issues.

Cindy was making things she learned from a book, being somewhat new and not ready to forge her own designs yet. During one convo she said she thought that she could sell her work as long as she mentioned the original artist.

I said: It is generally considered acceptable to make and sell pieces not your own design but only in limited quantities. For instance, at your own home show, local craft fair, to private clients, or giving as gifts. But I've had my own designs being re-created and sold on Etsy where I sell my own work--the same design, and for less money than I asked for my piece. I did not like it but the beader doing it took great umbrage when I asked her to stop selling it on Etsy. She felt that once a design has been published it is totally up for grabs. So it's an ethical question that continues to be a discussion. What do you think? You made the piece so you should be able to sell what you made, right?

Cindy said:  I totally understand how recreating someone else's work and selling it would be upsetting. I have very mixed feelings about it but of course at this time I haven't created something of my own to be copied so have a limited view and feeling on this matter at this time. It is confusing because you buy a book, magazine or etc. to learn how to create items but then not being able to sell them after you make it is disappointing. I guess the feeling might be if you don't want it copied then don't produce instructions on how to make it. It is a very complex situation that I'm not sure there is a clear answer to. When I become more adventurous and confident in my beading perhaps I will then be able to come up with my own creations but until then I need all the help I can get.

I said: You are among many jewelry-makers who don't make up their own designs but want to sell their efforts. I get it completely. It is a fine line--for all of us. Designers realize that people want to make our projects. It's why we teach and sell to magazines. That's how we earn a great part of our living. But we also sell our finished work. So when students (classroom or magazine followers) take our designs and mass produce them for sale, it takes away from our livelihood. It's the "making money from another person's design"  that's the bugaboo, and not one easily resolved. All magazines ask that readers be sensitive to the authors rights and not take advantage. OF COURSE people want to sell what they learn to make. But is it okay, or when is it okay?

If someone learns to make my original bracelet from a magazine, should they make and sell it over and over on Etsy?  Many artists don't publish tutorials for this very reason, and that's sad for students who could learn so much from those pros.

How about at their neighborhood craft shows? I say sure if it's not in my home town.
On their own web site? HM, maybe. So ask me. But don't you want to make your own originals?

On Etsy?  I say this overlaps my market, so I'm not gonna like it. Shouldn't I get a commission as if it was a licensed product? If you want to make and sell my designs, please contact me today! We'll make some sort of contract where I get a small percentage of your sales and you can make and sell as much of my work as you like.

And speaking of licensing... I have Disney jewelry I made for myself to wear when I go to Disney World. I DO NOT and WILL NOT EVER make them to sell or even to give as gifts! Even tho' the form of my jewelry and the use of materials is quite unique, it is not my mouse. So I walk the walk, beady peeps. (But anyone from Disney can contact me about officially designing for them. My designs are definitely Mouse Couture.)

If someone takes my class, can they now go and teach that project in classes of their own?
Only with my permission.

Should someone buy my tutorial once for $10 and then charge other people $25 to learn that project from them in their bead shop?
That takes bread from my table, unless they buy my tutorial for each student and THEN tack on their fee as an instructor.

Who invented peyote stitch, anyway?
I hear this a lot. It's "just" peyote  stitch. You didn't invent that. True, but chances are the published project in question is more than just peyote.

I think seed beading is different from other jewelry making. The materials are similar, while other jewelry designs can switch out types of beads, chain, or wire, and become much more original even if the same technique is used. It is not as easy to invent something new in a seed bead work. Perhaps this is why beaders appear much more proprietary.

What do you think?
Can't wait to hear what you all say.