Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lesson Learned

Sorry for the poor quality photo. It was taken with a cell phone. Read on...

Does this textile design look familiar to you? If you've read my blog for awhile, it should. The picture above was taken in March 2010, by Tomory at a store, (that's me off to the side) and the garments pictured were not produced by myself, but by another "designer."

Here's the story: About a month ago, Tomory and I were at the aforementioned to -remain- unnamed store shopping for a shirt for his London opening. We came across the pictured garments from a designer's (that shall also remain unnamed) Spring 2010 line.
Roughly half of the garments featured a print that was strikingly similar to one of my original textile designs, that I initially created back in May of 2008. Even the colorways were similar to those I had designed. I first posted this design on my blog back in October & November of 2008, when my blog began. I did not register the copyright of this design. The unnamed store was/ is selling these garments for $300- $700 each.

Let's face it folks: There is fair use, and then there is "lazy" design, and then there are just a lot of plain bad designers out there. I'm still angry about it. Angry at this other "designer." Angry at myself for not registering the copyright. Angry because I trusted that people would do the right thing and not use my designs without my permission. But at least I know now what I need to do to protect my work, and know that my work is good enough to be sold at a certain high-end store (I'm really trying to find a sliver lining in all of this) !

If you are an artist or designer let this post be a warning to you. A PSA of sorts, even if at first, like me, you are producing work purely for your own enjoyment.
Here is some advice: Copyright your designs. It costs about $35 per design. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

A note to any "lazy" designers out there who may be reading this (doubtful that you've read this far...too lazy!) : Don't try to profit unfairly off of other people's hard work -it's bad karma, unethical, and eventually people will realize what you are up to and you'll have to face the consequences.

Rely on your own creativity. Don't sell yourself short. Do the right thing. Please note: Unless otherwise stated: All original textile designs and photographs © Jennifer Parry Dodge 2008- 2010


Jennifer said...

Jen, that SO sucks! I am saddened and amazed every time I hear of an artisan's experience with someone knocking off their designs. The people who copy must think the internet is anonymous enough that they can get away with it, but they should realize that the web is also filled with honest people who look out for one another and will report any such violation to the original artist if possible. They will be found out in the end.

Finding inspiration for your designs in others' work is one thing, and totally fine. Blatantly stealing their ideas is, as you say, lazy, and does a disservice to not only the violated but also the violator (who should find his/her own creative voice).

Thank you for reminding us all of something that I haven't given enough thought to as I go forward offering my creations through my blog and shop.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your support Jen. It means a lot. I hope this experience will help other people. I never thought this would happen to me. It's been really hard to hold this all inside.

cheryl cambras said...

This makes me so angry! I'm so sorry it happened to you. You're strong to look for the silver lining. I think I'd rip that designer's head off.

Always know how much you inspire everyone who visits and please never stop sharing your amazing creativity. xoxo

Jocy said...

"Strikingly similar" is stating it kindly. I'm so sorry. Like you, I like to believe that most people are good-hearted and well-intentioned. My risk averse side tells me otherwise. Don't stop creating and sharing. Don't stop believing in the goodness of people, but protect your art. (And maybe sell your work to that boutique!) This makes me angry.

Jennifer said...

Thanks. Yeah, I wanted to be careful with my wording. Believe me, I have many other words I'd like to use.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Cheryl. Love you. xo

kelley said...

Things like this are so upsetting. It seems like this has happened to many independent designers, and I don't think it's coincidental. You're right though. At the very least, it's lazy, but it's also just plain heartless.

There are wonderful, creative people out there that actually appreciate independent artists and their work...I hope this doesn't stop you from sharing with those of us who do!

Jennifer said...

Kelly, thank-you. I hate to say it but this has made me less trusting. More cautious. I will be filing for copyright with all of the new designs prior to posting them here/anywhere.

That's why @ Easter I said I'd unfortunately be showing fewer (or no) WIP shots.

Megan Taylor said...

WOW, lesson definitely learned. I'm sorry you had to experience that. Not cool. Not cozy. It never feels good to be taken advantage of. yuck :(

jenny gordy said...

other designers have stolen my designs as well. it pisses me off! i'm sorry it happened to you. dang, that sucks. since i don't design prints though, does it make sense to copyright my work? i wasn't aware that clothing designs could be copyrighted.

Jennifer said...

Jenny, that's true: not certain of that. I know you can for clothing patterns? Some of your patterns are fairly dinstinctive. Did you register the copyright for your skirt pattern that was published?
Thanks for your support.

Shayna said...

That is a complete and total bummer. As a fellow designer I have to say that's one of the most frustrating/confusing aspects of sharing work before it's "official". Good for you for calling it out and good luck.

ps- If it's any solace, I prefer your original prints!

a57czlion said...

I am so sorry that happend to you. I was in Harrod's and they caught me snapping a Lady Gaga mannequin in flimsy lingerie. Now being a gay man, who was also trying to improve his fashion sense, it was a lesson learned. They assumed I was a copycat.I was merely taking the picture as an art form/souvenir of London!

Jennifer said...

See, one good thing came out of this: M. you are the sweetest. I never would have heard your Lady Gaga/Harrod's story if this hadn't happened!!

UNIFORM Studio said...

I don't understand why people do this. they almost always get caught.
I'm so sorry this happened to you jennifer.
I guess I should get busy and copyright the few fabric patterns I've done. It never even occured to me to do so.

Katie said...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (it just occurred to me how outdated that phrase is!), I'm sorry this happened to you, Jennifer. What an absolute bummer.... I always want to give the benefit of the doubt in situations like these but the similarities to your designs are impossibly hard to ignore.

Keep making excellent work, Jennifer.

janis said...

I would have been physically sick coming across this... I am so sorry this happened to you Jennifer. The idea of someone ripping off our designs from the internet is something I have been very concerned about - and now here it is - again. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth having a shop (or blog) online for this reason... so sad by this.

Jennifer said...

I was almost physically sick when we found out. I was SO angry. There was little else I could think or talk about that day. Directly after it happened, we had to stop by Tomory's L.A. gallery to drop off some artwork. It was such a bizarre obsessive feeling, being that angry. It was mid-afternoon, but one of the gallery owners offered me a drink because I was so upset!

I took him up on his offer ;)

I have wondered, too if it's all worth it and come to the conclusion that it is. The wonderful people that I have encountered via the internet,like yourself, far outweigh the bad experiences with negative people out there.

VANESSA said...

wow, i'm so sorry to read this! my teacher at otis just told us a similar horror story about how a "friend" designer did this to her early in her career as her line was getting good press and was copying and selling her designs out of his storefront for mega profit. she had already copyrighted and so she was able to go to him immediately with her paperwork and say "expect a call from my lawyer"... needless to say it was gone that day.

i'm really sorry to hear that this happened to you, but thank you for educating and letting everyone know to watch their work and stand up for themselves!

beyond the copycat thing, i get so sick about all of the materials, product and energy that is wasted. i read in the times that knockoff designer wear is sent to a warehouse in nyc that incinerates the garments... how much pollution and waste is that! so sad!