Sunday, March 21, 2010

Copying vs Inspiration

With all the recent emails I have received from other artists alerting me about my work being copied and for seeing them all first hand myself I have decided to comment on the issue.
Not only is it unethical, it's very disappointing to have people take your designs and use them as their own. I don't mean the people who are crafting for themselves for fun, they always tell me they are inspired to make them and show me. I love that! But I am speaking of the ones who copy to sell them. And to be fair, I've approached them. Some have stopped others have not.
I recently read a post titled " Why You Shouldn't Copy Us Or Anyone Else. Though the article pertains to writing software,the meaning and explanations are clear and can be applied to any form of creation. It Reads,

"Why You Shouldn't Copy Us Or Anyone Else"
By Jason Fried,

Here’s the problem with copying: Copying skips understanding. Understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is how it is. When you copy it, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath.

The article is referring to ideas and business models, but I think interface design is an example more people can relate to. Have you seen an interface (Work of Art) that was obviously copied from someone else’s interface? The copy usually lacks depth and detail. They miss the spacing, the proportions, the relationship between colors and objects and buttons and links. It’s usually pretty close, but there’s something not right about it.

Why? Shouldn’t copying something be easier than creating it? Someone else already did the work, right? The problem is that the work on the original is invisible. The copier doesn’t know why it looks the way it looks or feels the way it feels or reads the way it reads. The copied interface(Work of Art) is a faux finish.

This is why future iterations of a copied interface begin to break down quickly. The copiers don’t understand where to take it next because they don’t understand the original intention. They don’t know the original moves so they don’t understand the next move.

Look around at interfaces that were clearly copied from someone else’s UI and you’ll find a lot of inconsistencies and sore thumbs. That’s the new stuff.

While I’ve been using interface design as an example, the original article was more about business models. I think copying leads to a lack of understanding there as well. Be influenced by many, copy none.

So bottom line: Copying hurts you. You miss out on what makes something good. Instead, try to be exposed to a variety of perspectives and points of view. Take whatever you find useful and leave the rest behind. Fill in the gaps with your own ideas. In the end you have make your own way forward.
Reprinted by permission of
Jason Fried,

Obviously the copycats don't care about taking from the original creator or how it makes the original artist feel, but they really should consider what it does to their reputation.

Thanks to everyone for your support on this issue. It is comforting to know that there are so many of you who see it for what it is and feel the same way.


nollyposh said...

i think i would always spot a copy of an artist that i truly admire because they are never quite the same, no Heart... But the good thing is that people are able to look at your work and know that it belongs to you and can spot a copy when they see it... Copying will always happen and has since the beginning of time, the best thing is that You already have a respected name for your work and in the end that is all that matters, the rest is just flattery (twisted albeit)
(Ps) i ~Love~ your stuFF! X:-)

Rot said...

Wow. What a bunch of crap.
I've had my own issues with this bullshit so I really REALLY can sympathize with you.

Great post.

Glad you're calling them out on it. Your work is primo. Original and loaded with heart and style.

You're a class act and it shows in your work. In every creepy [and cute] thread and button.

oldblackcatboo said...

BRAVO! Well done!!!!!!

Gillian said...

I didn't know that had happened. It sucks doesn't it? Try not to get too angry because that will just hurt you. I think your article makes some excellent points. The copy is always inferior because it doesn't have the soul.

You should post some examples here:

In the cases you feel public shame is deserved (which will be all the ones who would not stop!)

I found the above site by looking at this which was a funny way to show the similarities in two designs. Click to play the video.

Chin up, soldier on.

Gillian : )

bean said...

Sorry you've had to deal with this. Pumpkinrot and I have had our fair share as well. It's a bummer, and it sucks to have to be disappointed in people.

suze said...

Amen! Can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. One time at a show, the woman in the booth next to me had copied my dolls. When she heard me say OMG...she took them down. People!
I have never seen any copies of your dolls.

the messy nest said...

Unfortunately, this is the ugly underbelly of making art and publishing it. I don't know why, but when we publish it seems to give people the mindset that we're okaying it for them to make and sell too. I think people forget {or don't care} that this is how we make our living, and that a lot of heart and soul goes into our creations. I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I'm so happy to hear that you are taking a stand and contacting these people! I copied a wonderful blog post that Kelly Rae Roberts wrote onto my blog that basically spells out everything you said/feel:

At the very least, if we all spread the word that we're not going to stand for it, things may change {if even just a little bit}!


Miss Black said...

The internet has made it a very small world. If you choose to live in public, as you are, someone is bound to "get inspiration" from your work. Not only is your work published electronically you are on the cover of magazines.
Here are the hard facts you can hide and protect everything you do which narrows your viewing audience reducing recognition. Or brush it off, send a few warnings if it makes you feel better, and realize this is the life of notoriety.

October Effigies said...

Thanks for posting about this. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this as well. Sadly Ive had to for these past years and also have been maliciously ripped off to my face by a well known artist who has been going around ripping off art and other doll artists left and right. I can't wrap my brain around the thought that these people have who copy art and change enough not to be sued and that its ok to do so even knowing the pain they are causing to the original artist. Its been such a heart breaking ordeal. Your work is so original and creative. People think its flattery its not. xoxoxo!! ~KK

The Itsy Bitsy Spill said...

Oh I just read your post and I say this, your work is yours and yours only - that means no one will have the substance, the true creativity that represents your work. Your work has heart, charm and originality. No one can't take that away from you, you own it. And the monsters speaks for itself and it says keep going because you are brilliantly talented regardless of those who copy. In all truth which I agree with Nollyposh you have already a respected name for your work. Your Catherine/Junkerjane!! Remember that!

lisavollrath said...

I feel for you, but know that your work is your work, and a copy will always be just a poor imitation.

(Also, it might be best when you're discussing this issue that you not copy an entire article written by someone else into your blog, even if it's credited. Copying work not your own applies to written work as well :)

John Rozum said...

As nollyposh says, you can usually tell a knock-off from the real thing. The problem is that if a potential buyer has not been exposed to the original, genuine article, they'll have no idea that what they are buying is an inferior replica. Not only that, but the buyer then credits, to themselves, or others, the knock off artist with being the one who came up with the idea in the first place.

It's a shame this has happened to you. It's happened to me, and I know how sick you feel about it only too well.


Hey ALL, thank you so much for the comments. I appreciate it :)

lisa, oh, btw, I did get permission first by the author :)
He said it was cool as long as i linked it .

lisavollrath said...

Ah, excellent. You might want to add "reprinted by permission of the author"---because from experience, I can tell you a lot of people don't realize that copying an article without permission is the same as copying artwork without permission.

Cara Carmina said...

just got the news... and it´s very sad... we as artist get inspired by other artist´s work... but it is pretty obvious when it goes beyond the line of inspiration and it transforms into a "bad version" of someone else´s art...

I´m a believer of inspiration... and not of copying... (stealing)... that´s not fair and if you are not going to play fair... there is no point... is it?...

We should regard other´s artist work with respect and admiration and learn from them...

(your work is so great, with such dedication and detail... that copying it is really impossible... those are bad attempts at it... and shame on them...)

I´m upset! :(

So sorry to hear about this... and you have my complete support!!!

zeropumpkin said...

always support your work! well said on the post.

Jay's Shadow said...

It is obvious that your "stuff" is a better quality than the "copies". So don't let it get you down or get you angry. Bean and Mr. Rot had the same issues and as you can see their's were a better quality also.

Just keep up the good work!

susarto said...

well said!
it's so disappointing to see copiers. and they usually are copying work that is pretty well known...i always wonder how they think someone won't notice.

some people don't realize (somehow...i don't know how they can *not know*) that it's not ok to do it and will apologize, but the worst are the ones who won't admit they did it.

so frustrating.
sorry you are going thru this. and so much! i've seen some of them myself!

you are the original.
always copied, never duplicated ;)

Anonymous said...

definitely sad that another artist has to go through this. Hopefully these copiers will all give up soon:)

WingingIt said...

catherine...this is my blog post this morning...i am eternally grateful for your inspiration...thank you!!
i got up this morning and read 'Junker Jane's' blog ( and she talks about inspiration vs. copying....this really got me to thinking. i used 'junker jane's' monsters as a starting point for my monsters. i am so grateful that she has shared her monsters with me...and the world...they are amazing!!! she has shared her monster dolls freely, and i have been able to develop my own style around those.
i get people that say...oh i could make that...all the time...i just think...well....i hope you is great fun! my monster making has turned into an evening event between my husband and i...i make the skins...he stuffs them...i embellish them....this allows me to spend time with my husband while he watches movies...i keep myself more than entertained...and i truly love his company! all you artists that share your experience, strength and hope...keep inspiring others...i hope that in some small way i might inspire another human being today...whether it is a smile at hula hooping on my breaks...or my silly little monster key fobs....keep on is soul food....but remember to be grateful for those creative people around you...that are also willing to share...
thank you junker jane/catherine...for making my life better!!!

myerscho said...

Well said!


I rarely get a chance to browse etsy's plush doll section for new doll makers on the scene but a few weeks I had like..a 5 minute break and I saw at least 2 shops that featured dolls like yours. I thought for a second..should I tell her about these shops? But then I thought maybe you were selling your patterns --- so I didnt want to look like a tattle tell douchebag or something to that effect.
I dont think you have anything to worry about!Youre work really looks well thought out and intelligently put together--and all of your characters are singularly unique with their own fabulous flavor thats distinctly junker jane.
I can almost guarantee you that this will not be the last time you experience being bitten and as a fellow doll maker who has been bitten a time or two I can offer you this advice...keep moving forward and changing and exploring new fabrics and designs. This will put you one step ahead of the people who are trying to track your every other what you do best!!xoxoxooxx

AUNIA KAHN said...

I hear this! Been there, it's hard to see your work being copied :( Great post!