Monday, February 27, 2012

Sharing the Wealth

The idea of sharing what one does creatively is extremely unnerving to some and even crippling to others. Sharing our work, our art, is a very intimate and revealing experience. The number of people I have known who were amazingly talented creatives who didn't feel comfortable sharing their paintings, drawings, poems and songs is in the hundreds. Even people I knew for years. . . suddenly one day I find out they are oil painters or poets with so much beauty hidden away in under the seams of their ordinary lives.

Of course, once we make the decision to share and to offer it up to the universe, there is a whole new set of concerns. It seems, with the advent of e-commerce, the problematic issue of "copying" has hit an epidemic proportion. And I am not so sure it is an epidemic in terms of the reality of it as much as the perceptions many people hold as to what copying is.

Back in the days of craft shows and art festivals, which I did many of with friends who were not as comfortable in the public eye talking up their work as I was, I heard this line all the time:

"Oh, I could make that!"

And I bet that those words are now uttered tens of thousands of times a day in the privacy of browsing from our e-homes. Everything is more visible. More accessible.

Even in those days it was infuriating to some to think that people would come to these fairs, look through their work and then go home and try to copy what they had seen.

It never bothered me. Of course, it wasn't MY work they were going to try and copy but, if my years and wealth of human experience in the service and coffeehouse industries have taught me nothing else. There are two types of people, those who talk about what they are going to do and those who actually do what they say they are going to do. The latter is definitely the minority.

I believe in sharing what I do and yes, I am trying to carve out a living doing it, but that has only served to make me less concerned about the copiers. Most of whom have no idea how, or no intention of, making a living with their art (or mine).

I believe in sharing my creations because I know deep down that I have brought incredibly original work into this world that is very hard to replicate. Even if the techniques are there, the materials and the desire, without the SOUL that went into it there is no way they will succeed.

And, if someone wants to try, I am truly not bothered by it. That said I will flip out if I see someone copying another artist I admire or know personally. Go figure! Just as I have sent my share of "Have you seen this?" emails to sellers who have had their work "borrowed" I would expect that I would receive the same in return.

I am at a loss often to understand what some people think is copying. With my work, I feel that I cannot copyright French country buildings or surreal landscapes or Egyptian statues or Fairy houses or even the shape, color and composition of these things individually.

I believe the true originality is in the whole package. The story I create with many of them. The presentation and the style that evolves over hundreds of attempts, successes and failures.

My shops have developed, I feel, a style reflective of my soul.
No one, in my opinion, can touch that.

And if someone tries to copy THAT, oh I will definitely be in touch with them.  
But not over a pattern or a color scheme or a title or a tag or a theme.
I didn't invent any of that. It was already out there.
As are 99.9% of the things we deem to be a part of our own art.

It's what we create with it, from within, that gives it uniqueness.

And isn't it better to put the time and focus into making what we do better?
Growing it beyond a pattern or a technique?

I, personally, would rather spend my hours sharing that with the world. . .  freely. . .  and hopefully having it touch and inspire others inside as well.

Thanks for reading. . .


Another view on Sharing by fellow etsian artist Viktoria can be found here:


  1. Really enjoyed to read your thoughts! Thanks for "Sharing"

  2. I too enjoyed this post very much! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. I especially appreciated where you say you were at a loss as to what some people consider copying. Sometimes, people will be upset saying another artist has copied their work and when I see the offending piece I'm just not sure what they are talking about. To me, part of our experiences as artists is learning from one another. If someone came up with a piece that was nearly identical to one of yours, then I would question it.

    While I hesitate to use the too-oft used phrase "nothing is original," I would say that we certainly build on the experiences, styles, and techniques of our predecessors and peers.

    Thanks so much for sharing this thoughtful article!

  4. Copycats piss me off but I let that experience stew within me for only about ten minutes and then move on. I often think of the potter Shoji Hamada. When asked if he worried that others copied his work he said, "no, in a hundred years, my worst pots will be mistaken for theirs, and their best pots will be mistaken for mine." The dude just believed in himself and found peace, and he is probably right, too. So that's what I do.