Sunday, October 27, 2013

"It is better to fail

in originality than to succeed in imitation."  ~ Herman Melville

There was quite a stir in the craft world this week when one of the larger wholesale companies was accused of stealing a crafter's ideas for their own use with no regard for her.   She had done paintings of animals wearing elaborate jackets...they took those paintings and designed Christmas ornaments.
Her blog neatly details the piracy if you are interested...

Her concern is not the money but is directed at the retailers who purchase these items.  It seems like this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  The small independent artist is often unaware of what is going on as these companies cruise sites...Pinterest becomes a candy store for them, I am sure.

Interestingly, here is a direct quote from Anthro who obviously had ordered this line..."After a thorough investigation, Anthropologie has decided to sever its relationship with Cody Foster & Co, remove any current items from our site and stores and cancel plans to include the company’s products in our holiday assortment. Unfortunately it is too late for us to make changes to our catalog in which a few items appear. While visible in photographs, they will not be credited or offered for sale."

Crafters are facing new forms of competition...Pinterest, Facebook, blogs...they all put everything out there for all to admire...but also to copy.  But, it has been going on for decades...even Steve Jobs quoted Picasso on copying..."Good artists copy, great artists steal."  Guess the Cody Foster Company thought they were great.  I think though there needs to be some integrity, Picasso or not...when I used to frequent Cash & Carry wholesale shows, one would see a vendor with some truly unique items, and then at the next show, 4 or 5 vendors would have similar items. 

But, hand crafting existed first out of necessity, and then it evolved into an art form or handicraft.  Quilts were made to keep people warm; pillows were actually used on the beds; candles provided light not just aroma. Every object was made with hands, using physical human skills, creativity and patience, as there was no automation or technology available to make anything mechanically. 

According to my research, it evolved into a decorative art when the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century fulfilled the functional and utilitarian needs of man. It gave people the opportunity to pursue crafting as a hobby and as a form of art to please their senses and as an expression of their creative faculties. In the early part of the nineteenth century, craft related ideas and suggestions began to appear in women's magazines and became highly popular.
Near the turn of the twentieth century, several manuals and instruction guides on crafting had been published that took the crafting ideas and techniques.   Crafting skills began to be used for creating family scrapbooks and albums. This became a great family activity and people prepared specially crafted scrapbooks for momentous occasions in their life and as souvenirs and gifts for the loved ones...sound familiar?  But, will future generations have to depend on their I-phones for souvenirs?

This time of year finds the 21st century artisans, these crafters, at shows in school gyms, church halls, and open houses.  Perhaps this year is a good time to consider the independent crafter as he or she creates.  I am lucky to have wonderful artists to create for the shop.  For example, here are some signs as we prep for the holidays.
Not done with machines, but by hand...with glitter accents...and there are matching cards...also handcrafted...not done in a Chinese factory.

The small business is able to work with these artists and not for mass production.  For example, my talented card maker was able to design cards and tags for me with my latest favorite saying...I cannot ask Hallmark to do that!
She also created some spectacular specialty wonderful would this be with a tin of homemade cookies or brownies.
I featured some scarves from India, and, when doing some investigation for this entry, I was surprised to find that India has been crafting for thousands of years.  The traditions involved their religious beliefs, local needs of the commoners as well as patrons and royalty, and now all with an eye for foreign and domestic trade.  I thought this was an interesting quote from one site:  These craft traditions have withstood numerous foreign invasions and continue to flourish, owing to the multi-cultural, assimilative nature of Indian society and its openness to new ideas.

And, speaking of crafting, I have a new stash of repurposed sari silk, as well as silk that has been turned into embroidery thread (wound on little clothespins!), and some velvets also!

Granted, original ideas are not rolled up like that velvet above, but maybe the Cody Foster uproar will help to put people on alert...and maybe you want to buy from that small indie crafter/artist at the local show or at a small brick and mortar shop instead of off a big box shelf from a company who may have acquired that item surreptitiously.  And, remember, made in the USA prices may be a little more than the Chinese labor minimum many of you want to work a 12 hour day for an average of $1.36?
Perhaps imitation is not flattery as Charles Caleb Colton wrote in the early 1800s.  It this new age maybe Frank Lloyd Wright retooled it better...
"Imitation is always insult--not flattery.”  


Just a bed of roses said...

Great article and necessary Susan. With technology it's an epidemic we are dealing with. Each person can make choices of integrity and each company. Yeah for some big companies.

The Cinnamon Stick said...

Love your "Quote" can I "steal it" !! Kidding of course, just couldn't resist cause "you know me"...LOL!! Love the article and happy that you do the research to inform the public of the happenings in our world...XO, Judy