Monthly Archives: January 2012

Weighing in on Plagiarism, Loyalty & Migraines

Two Working For Yourself posts in a row? Aren’t you honoured! This one’s a little texty, sorry!

I’ve been thinking about broaching this subject for a while now, it is, unfortunately, something that a lot of us creative types have to deal with on an almost weekly basis. The big P word, Plagiarism.

Not only are we faced with the occasional gut-wrench when we see someone selling a direct copy of a design, but it’s that constant niggling feeling of ‘oh god, I hope I haven’t dragged this new design out of my subconscious inspiration bank verbatim’ (I google the hell out of anything new that I make, just in case..!).

Yesterday something happened that jolted me to write this post, but I would like to preface this by saying that the situation has been dealt with amicably, it’ll be going no further, and I’ve already called off the hounds.

I was just settling down to watch BBC Stargazing Live (did you see it? it was pretty cool!) when I stumbled upon a blog post of a crafter who had one of my necklaces. The post itself was about copying, and where you draw the line. Unfortunately the crafter had decided that tracing my necklace and applying the design to other items was on the okay side of the line (it isn’t), and that selling these items on folksy was also okay (it’s not). They didn’t know the exact maker of the necklace as it’d been a gift, but that doesn’t give free reign to duplicate the work and produce commercial items on the back of it. I whole heartedly believe that this was just an unfortunate, naive mistake and I know they felt awful about it. Lessons have been learned, and that’s the end of that.

(Here is a photo of a cat to break up the text a bit)

One thing that did strike me last night though, was the complete and utter support that I had from my twitter followers and (most of) my facebook friends, all rallying around leaving comments and suggestions. You guys are awesome.

Plagiarism sucks the big one, it really does, but with websites like You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice, and a reactive online community of creative people, things do seem to feel a little better.

There are a few people who seem to suffer from this A LOT, Gemma Correll has had SO many people & companies copy her pugs not drugs design that it’s almost turned into an internet meme. Kate Wilson‘s lovely illustrations seem to be something they teach the plagiarists in their first class at plagiarist school! It’s not just the act of copying an item to sell, either, let’s not forget the case of the kid who managed to plagiarise her way through an illustration degree… words fail.

So, what do you do if you find someone’s copied you?

  • Breath, stay calm, don’t fly off the handle! The first couple of times this happened to me I was red-in-the-face mad about it, and ended up firing off incohesive, unproductive and sweary emails. It’s no fun for anyone involved, you’ll be wanting to attack this with grace and sophistication!
  • Share it, get other opinions and consider what you’re going to do. Having the outside opinion of others is invaluable when making the judgement of plagiarism/inspiration. Don’t get nasty and start firing off accusations all over the place, though, you really don’t want to get into the realms of slander! Just post the link and ask people’s thoughts… Having a community of creatives behind you also makes things feel a bit less scary, you’re not in it alone! People will offer advice and help, take it.
  • Take the high horse, it’s your design after all! Start drafting an email, comment or response. Again, get someone else to check it before you send it off if possible (you might have missed something, or not explained something correctly). Opening up the lines of communication is the first step to resolution, chances are that as soon as you send your first email the item/s will be removed. People get really scared when they know they’ve been found out!
  • Can you prove that you’re the original designer? Find your sketches, files, online publications etc.
  • Keep a record of all correspondence, you might need it later.
  • Take it further if you have to. I haven’t had to do this yet (and fingers crossed I won’t), but get in touch with a copyright lawyer if you feel you want to take it further (and can afford to do so).
  • Consider registering your designs if you can take the cost, consider how you’d feel if it was stolen – would it be a ‘meh’ or a super angry face?
  • Continue creating, improving and making awesome work. Plagiarists gonna plagiarise, sometimes you need to take it on the chin. I’m not saying ignore it, no, I’m saying don’t let it break your flow!
  • Support your fellow creative folk! If you spot something that looks like a copy of someone’s work then you absolutely must alert them to it. This is how it works. Support is an awesome thing, and it means the world to people.

So there you go, I hope you find this helpful, but I also hope that you never have to follow any of the suggestions above.

Oh and migraines, what the hell are they about?! Half way through last night’s events I was struck down with a killer migraine. My vision went blurry, my neck was aching like crazy and my head was pounding, I have no idea what brought it on either! I don’t think I had more than my usual share of coffee for the day..!

 

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10 killer ways you can help your business RIGHT NOW

It doesn’t have to all be about massive PR campaigns, launches and creating a spiffing new product… nah, there’re a bunch of super easy, amazingly effective and even fun ways you can up the ante with your business/blog/project RIGHT NOW. Chop chop…

  1.  Write a guest post on a subject that you’re passionate about, it’s even better if it relates to your business. Most bloggers allow you to add your links & information to a blog post, it’s a great method of self promotion and everybody wins!
  2. Offer a giveaway of one of your products, services, or just a random gift. It shows appreciation, gets you some traffic and helps you meet your readers/customers!
  3. Fire out a tweet, update your facebook fan page, and comment on some articles. A whole bunch of quick, easy tasks that you can do that’ll help you out right away. Check out this post that I wrote a few months ago, “10 two minute tasks to save the world
  4. Check out last month’s figures and see what changes you can make TODAY to benefit your business. I’m all about charts, graphs and tables for Finest Imaginary. Why not see if you can seek out a cheaper supplier of a material you use a lot? Even the smallest differences add up!
  5. Figure out your next e-mail campaign and if you don’t have a mailing list, set one up right now. This isn’t the age of paper mail-outs, people, pull your finger out (and as shameless self promotion, I can totally help you out with that kinda thing, you know!). I have had direct sales from sending out an email campaign, and the conversions are sometimes within 20 minutes of hitting the send button. That got your feet twitching, didn’t it?
  6. Browse your website and figure out what you want to change, what doesn’t work, what you want to drop and how you want to improve your online presence. Hell, finestimaginary.com is getting a complete overhaul this year, there are so many niggles I have about it that I can’t even begin to list them! I only found out half of them by browsing around, I tell ya!
  7. Make a video and get out of your comfort zone. Last week I posted my first video blog, it saw a nice spike in traffic on my blog and generated lots of nice little click throughs to finestimaginary.com. I got out of my comfort zone and it paid off, why not give it a shot?
  8. Get in the ZONE, turn off all distractions and knuckle right down for an hour. And by that I mean shutdown tweetdeck, close gmail and stay the hell away from facebook. Put your most upbeat playlist on spotify and concentrate the hell out of your current project. That’s productivity 101 right there!
  9. Catch up with your stockists/partners/affiliates if you have new products that you think they’d love, tell them about it!
  10. Learn something new, for Finest Imaginary I love to learn new techniques & methods, so I’ll google, watch videos, read tutorials and then practice. There are SO many things you can learn that will do wonders for your business… identify them, list them, find them, and learn them. Blogger? Learn some basic HTML to jazz up your writing, Crafter? Learn an easier way of doing that boring repetitive task, Photographer? Learn how to do that really neat effect that you’ve seen, Shop Owner? Learn a new stock managing method… you catch my drift.

So there you go, get cracking and get improving!

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The Great Outdoors

I just realised I never posted about my new collection of items. I started working on some pieces related to ‘The Great Outdoors’ in December, and the first of them are now available in the shop. It’s inspired by, obviously, the great outdoors, especially places like Yosemite in the USA… I don’t know why, it’s years since I went but it just kept springing to mind while I was working on these. It’s also inspired by some favourite creatures on mine, including the badger (after I’d made the badger moleskine I was getting requests for a necklace..!).

I’m going to be expanding the range bit by bit, and it’ll soon include some illustrations that I’ve been working on a bit & some new moleskine designs.

 

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