A while ago I found this amazing store on etsy that makes these fun and funky pieces of shower art out of resin, glitter, and suction cups. My roommate and I bought several of their pieces, but as any DIY-er, I wanted to try making them myself! I love working with resin and glitter and I wanted to come up with some of my own funny sayings to make them personal. Obviously, the ones in the store look better than mine turned out, but they are professionals and I’m just doing this for fun. I’ll show you how I made this one and give you some tips and tricks I learned along the way. Let’s get started!
This tutorial threw Rosalie Gale into a tailspin last week. That Etsy shop? It’s hers.
Rosalie and Doug Gale have spent years perfecting a signature product – Shower Art. They developed the concept, made prototype after prototype, perfected the product, and built a thriving business selling it for over a decade.
And then someone made an online tutorial showing how to make their product. After a very emotional day, Rosalie’s thought process began to shift. She came through the experience in a way that I found fascinating.
I read about Rosalie’s story as it unfolded in a Facebook discussion last week and I invited her to share it with us today. Anyone who has shown original work online (which is, I think, almost all of us) will in some way be able to connect to what happened here.
Rosalie, take it away. (Moxie Lieberman helped Rosalie edit her story. Thanks, Moxie!)
My name is Rosalie Gale and my husband, Douglas Gale, and I invented Shower Art: waterproof art you can hang in your shower with a suction cup. We have been making Shower Art since 2005, counting the 18-months it took us to create and refine the process. One of my favorite things about Shower Art is that people often marvel at its uniqueness. “How did you think of this?” “I’ve never seen anything like this!” It’s a point of pride for me that we somehow managed to come up with something that really hasn’t been done before.
I make and sell Shower Art full time. That’s my job. It’s how I make money to live. Outside of creating, I spend a lot of time getting Shower Art out into the world. Every once in awhile my efforts pay off and somebody cool features our work (Thanks Buzzfeed! I’ll never forget you!) and I wake up to find crazy amounts of email love, web hits and, if I’m lucky, orders! It feels like a fun mystery. Where are these people coming from? Who sent them? What do they want from me? Okay, maybe not the last one.
About a week ago I had just such a morning. I checked my stats, and realized that I had a tons of hits coming from Instructables.com. I’ve written Instructable tutorials in the past, so I thought maybe they were featuring one somewhere and it was sending traffic to my shop. When I visited the site, I saw – right on the front page – A photo of something that looked like my art, but was not, and a tutorial to make “Resin Shower Art.” WHAT!? Someone else wrote a tutorial on how to make our art? Why?
Long ago, we expanded our line to include shirts, stickers, postcards, prints, buttons, magnets, cross stitch kits, embroidery floss holders — all kinds of other stuff. If something is a popular Shower Art theme, we turn it into lots of other things. In the past we’ve had issues with people stealing our shirts — but we’ve never had the kind of time, energy or money to deal with them. Normally we just mention it online, our friends and fans go crazy and eventually the shirts get removed. We’re used to that kind of thing, but THIS? This felt different. My heart sank.
I read through the tutorial. Although the author credits our Shower Art as being the inspiration for the tutorial (proof to me that she’s not trying to do anything crappy to me and my business — but had good intentions), I wasn’t contacted in advance and it describes materials and a process that we don’t use. I felt all the feelings there are all at the same time. At first I couldn’t decide – which is worse? Someone giving away my trade secrets? Or someone telling people that I make Shower Art in a way – and out of materials – that I don’t actually use? Does this person not realize the effect that their tutorial could potentially have on my business? If you like my art so much, make it yourself — sure — but why write a tutorial for others to follow? Why copy my style so directly?
I didn’t know what to do, and I was too flustered to make a good decision in the moment. The friends I texted were initially shocked and baffled and pissed off by the tutorial. I was mad. They were mad. I wanted to write an angry letter to the Instructables author, but stopped myself so I could mull it over more. I got home that night and talked to Doug, thinking he’d be angry too, but then this happened: he had no problem with it at all. None. He loved that it was out there and I think his exact words were, “I knew this day would come.” He seemed happy. Excited. Huh? I guess, it does lend some credibility to this weird art form we’ve dedicated the last 10 years to creating. Maybe there was more to think about than just my initial gut-reaction.
I started to sort out some of my feelings. Why do I feel like we owned that process? People get copied ALL THE TIME. That’s what a trend is. Why should we be any different? Couldn’t this actually be a GOOD sign? A sign that more and more people are learning about and maybe liking Shower Art? While we aren’t the first people to float something in resin or rubber, we ARE the first people to make art to hang in your shower that has a suction cup on the back. But that said, should we be the only people who are allowed to make it — just because we were the first?
If you want to stretch a bit, it could be argued that we invented a new art form. Georges Seurat invented pointillism. Does that mean he should be the only person who can use it? Of course not. Did Georges feel kind of crappy when someone wrote a tutorial on how to do his painting technique. I dunno. But maybe he did. Or maybe he was ecstatic to be the founding father of this cool, new thing that now everyone was suddenly doing. The more I think about it — the more I am moving into the ecstatic camp. Am I comparing us to Georges Seurat? Technically, but I am simultaneously acknowledging the ridiculousness of that — so it’s okay.
On the plus side, this situation has made me process quite a few feelings. That’s hard for me because I’m from the Midwest and we have issues with feelings and thinking and talking about feelings. In this process I felt anger, thought about the anger, talked about my feelings and decided on a solution. Just like a grown up. NOW I’M ALL FIXED! Suck it, Minnesota!
That said, there are still some things that I don’t love about that tutorial and here they are in order of importance:
- The author is telling people that I make Shower Art out of resin – which I don’t – I use rubber. It’s a different process and different material. I’m not sure why that’s my #1 beef — but it is. It bugs me that she’s telling people how to make my art — but not telling them the correct materials or process.
- Rubber is a bit squishier. It’s also odorless (which is a huge bonus if you’ve ever used resin) and it dries much clearer and without so many issues with bubbles. Resin can be brittle and if a piece fell off your wall and hit your tub, it could shatter and take out a chunk of your tub and you’ll never see your security deposit again (I speak from experience). When we first started making Shower Art, we experimented with resin and experienced all of the problems I’ve listed above. Then, through a boyfriend of a friend, we discovered rubber, were pleased with the results and started selling them.
- When you Google Shower Art – now the Instructables tutorial for how to make it yourself instead of buying mine shows up on the first page of the results. Most people won’t. 99.9% of people won’t — but I just don’t love seeing it there. It also says “Resin Shower Art” in the title — which just goes back to point #1.
People may think that the image in the tutorial is of my Shower Art. It’s a fine first attempt – I’m not knocking it – but I also don’t want people to think that is what I’m selling.
My real take away from this whole experience is inspiration. I want to share our process and materials with people who are interested in making Shower Art themselves so I’ll make my own tutorial that shows the actual materials we use and our process. Why not? People who make their own Shower Art are going to do it because it’s fun, not because they want to start a business. People who have never heard of us before will see what we do and those who have heard of us before might value our work more once they see what kind of effort goes into it. Those people will most likely want to buy Shower Art from us – not just because ours are hilarious – but because it would just be much easier.
This whole situation reminded me to keep innovating and making Shower Art better. That’s never a bad reminder.
Rosalie is working on her own Instructables tutorial to make Shower Art the right way. She says, “I hope that mine ranks higher eventually in a Google search.” It should be up by the end of May.
*Edited May 8, 2015: Instructables has changed the name of the tutorial from “Shower Art” to “Resin Suction Cup Art” on the site.
I’m really glad this story has a happy ending! With a scarcity mindset, she was threatened and scared, but by switching to an abundance mindset she was able to focus on how this situation can make her business better, which is awesome.
I gotta say, it feels better too! So glad Doug’s initial reaction gave me pause.
AMAZING. Can’t say anything else. It’s really inspiring to see how to make a bad experience into a not so bad one. And how to understand that art is out there to share and to be enjoyed. I’m really moved by the way you explain all your process from the initial anger to the reflections it triggered and I could not agree more with your final conclusions. This is an exceptional post, thanks so much for writing it.
I don’t know if she’s fond an impact on sales yet, but often people look at stuff like this and decide making their own isn’t worth it, and buy instead.
While interesting and cool, I think I’d rather buy it myself.
jess @ fushmush says
That’s what I think too. So I’d be focusing my attention on ensuring the mention in the tutorial is linked to the Etsy site.
The problem is when people start making them and selling them using the tutorial.
I’m not sure I’d make the tutorial which shows how to do it properly. You’ve got the details on how to make the superior product. I’d be emphasizing its qualities in the etsy shop.
Dara C. says
That’s what I was going to say too, that the whole thing would feel fairly ok if the tutorial said “this concept was inspired by the amazing ‘Shower Art, which you can find at http://www.etsy.com/shop/showerart...” or something similar. And I haven’t read the tutorial, so I’m not sure what the exact text is, but I’d also be very very bothered by someone claiming to know my technique AND instructing others on the incorrect one.
And yeah, the sales hit. It’s one thing to come up with your own idea, make it, and share how you did it with others. Amen to that. But to copy someone else’s idea, that’s the basis of their livelihood, and share that technique with others with complete disregard for how it might cost them? Mehh…
What a great attitude! (And yay for beating that MN feeling-stuffer!)
I used to see a thing I liked at a craft show or wherever and think, I’m not going to buy that because I can make it.. I’d venture to guess that 99.999999999% of the time I didn’t, of course. Now I just buy it if I really want it. I’ll leave it to the person who perfected the art of making said thing, thank you very much I don’t have time to be making all the things nor do I want to. I’ve even purchased things made from my own fabric designs. Because why not? My point is, i agree. This will likely have little impact on their business. I’d totally be more annoyed about the resin.
An awesome read, thank you so much for sharing this! Living on a small island, in a military community, people are so defensive about “owning” what they make, in all aspects. I’ve often thought, how would I feel if my work got copied and what would I do? I know I’m not the only person who makes what I make, but if someone copied so closely?? I love how you turned this on its head, into a fire under your butt to evolve and grow, as a business. And thank you so much for being so open about what really went through your head. A million kudos to you!
I loved reading this article–thanks, Abby and Rosalie!–and it was especially enlightening to hear how Rosalie’s husband’s reaction to the tutorial differed from hers. I think Rosalie’s happiness at seeing her product becoming trendy is enlightened and a great way to look at the situation.
That said, I do have some misgivings related to the concerns she voiced towards the end of the article. It sounds like making Rosalie’s product from resin (as the tutorial directs) rather than rubber has some serious drawbacks, and I wonder if it would be prudent to consider how this might affect her brand image. It seems like her use of the name “Shower Art” is specific enough to her product to be trademark-able, and I wonder if that might be something worth looking into in order to protect the reputation of her much-researched and -tested product. I don’t have a legal background–this is just musing–but if it were me I would want to make sure that folks knew about the quality and safety differences between my product and the tutorial product that was using the same name.
The day that this tutorial came out, there were two other instances where someone told me I should trademark something. When the tutorial came out – that was the third sign – I emailed a lawyer friend and I’m looking into it!
That’s a great idea! Hope it’s not too hard (or expensive) to do.
Shirley K says
Interesting read. I agree with another commenter who said that although she could make many of the things she sees, she rarely gets around to it. Same here, so the question for me becomes not if I can make it, but would I actually make it. If the answer is no, then I just buy it if I want it enough.
Carolyn from GlassEyesOnLine says
Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful article. Such an emotional roller coaster ride for the artist ! I am so amazed with the outcome. Making your own tutorial that shows the process is a wonderful ending. I think I would consider making and selling the DIY kits with the instructional video. Craftsy is one market for DIY videos with kits. I don’t know much about Craftsy; but it seems like your heading in an exciting direction for with your business. I wish you all the best. Carolyn from GlassEyesOnLine
very cool to see how she worked through it. tinyhands has a video on her site showing how to make one of her food charms. which wasn’t really a mystery anyway– they are made of polymer clay. it is obvious that if you want a complex design like most of her charms you are going to have to put a ton of time into perfecting your techniques.
most people are not willing or able to make their own things so there is no real detriment to the business.
it is important to keep innovating or else people can knock off your ideas.
Holly Marsh says
When I first read that this happened, I was like, “NO! Rosalie’s art is so incredibly unique…how could anyone have the gall to post a tutorial!?’
And then I read the post and felt better. Way to deal with this situation with grace, Rosalie! I’m not sure I would handle it as well.
While I am definitely a DIYer, it has been an important lesson through my years in business to A) Support my fellow handmakers (every time I’m in a show and Ugly Baby is, too, I buy the next art installation for my shower), B) Know that yes, with trial and error, I COULD make a lot of the things fellow makers make, but I run my own handmade business and have two small children, so say it with me, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” and C) Nothing compares to the quality, the originality, and the humor of Rosalie’s creations. Seriously. She is WAY funnier than I could ever be, and way funnier than most people. Her sense of humor and her product is kismet for Ugly Baby. While many people may pin that tutorial, chances are they’ll just buy it from Rosalie, and hopefully, the people who have never heard of shower art will now and it’ll increase her sales!
I heart you Rosalie! I think teaching it the “wrong” way would bother me most as well. Who does that person think she is… assuming you use resin! “scoff!” I can’t wait to see your authentic instructables post. And I hope the author reads this article and really listens.
I think, as others have mentioned, this will only bring more sales her way. People like to think they’ll DIY it but then they run out of time or decide its too much work – and now they have a place to just buy. Great post that can be applied to discussions around lots of DIY/sewing blogs.
i am so impressed by your grace. Of course you will be angry and hurt, but you waited before you did anything. You are a phenomenal woman!
I enjoyed reading about your journey through this situation. I admire your honesty & grace.
Kristin Turberville Haffey (Treehouse Illustrator) says
Wow — Not sure I would have turned it around so fast, if it were my products. Good for you. Thanks for the inspiration! And good luck with the trademarking. 🙂
Sharon Foster says
A happy ending, indeed. The perfect example of making lemonade out of lemons, and kudos to you for having such a lovely and positive attitude. I for one will be looking forward to purchasing your tutorial.
i have been selling my clamshell necklaces on etsy for almost a decade. Last year someone asked me if mine was the same as the ones in uncommon goods. Of course it wasn’t but I went through similar feelings…anger, frustration, and also (I use an etching process and roller priming on the front of mine and they just stamped a frackin bird!) indignation. Then I got over it. It is an opportunity to make new work and use your skills to move your work forward.
Congratulations to you for being bigger than this but I do hope someone pointed out to the writer of the tutorial her misstep. She needs to be aware that her behaviour was pretty uncool.
Ahhh, I love everything about this. Yeah! What a great way to accept the inevitable when you make a really cool, interesting product. Rosalie you are so fun and positive. This is such a positive take on dealing with scarcity mentality. I also agree with what has been previously said – I often buy things because I want to support someone, and two because when you make things yourself you know it’s just the right thing to do.
Marlo M says
Incredible and truly inspiring!! I love how Doug was able to see the positive of the situation right away and how you were able to move the anger aside to see behind it! And Yay for feeling feelings! It probably would have taken me weeks to get there, if ever. Expecting to be knocked off and keeping a few steps ahead of the biters is probably one of the best things a artist can do to ensure their business keeps moving forward. But even so…when it happens, it always feels like it’s too soon. 😛 Way to take back the power! Go Ugly Baby! Long Live Shower Art!
So great Abby. I love the education you help us all achieve and the conversations you inspire (even…maybe especially… if they are only internal ones). Thank you!
This feature is so timely as I’ve been thinking a ton about this battle lately. I mean, the constant creative push and pull between: innovation, ownership, payment, progress and production.
I read your interview/article and it inspired me to go back and watch this TED talk again. I thought your readers might enjoy it if they haven’t seen it:
I’ve been deciding if I am brave enough to take on a conflicted project. A project I love. I, like Rosalie, sought advice from my husband expecting words of caution. After listening to my ranting, he didn’t say: it’s too risky. Instead, he said: find a way to make it happen. How lucky we are to have great sounding boards, right Rosalie?
Keep up the great work both of you!
Such a great story and reminder. I’m wondering if Rosalie had considered selling kits for people who want to make their own? If you’re going to do a tutorial, why not offer a kit people can buy to follow it?
Rosalie Gale says
It’s a good idea — I have just found, having put together a few craft kits recently — I like making things more than I like assembling kits. Never say never — but right now I’ve got some other things on my plate that seem like more fun.
So funny you say this. I’ve been struggling with the pull of making kits as a way to sell something other than me as a teacher – I”m not sure if it’s worth my energy as to reproduce as a kit, I’d have to be comfortable with four or more of the same quilt being out there…
Jennifer Schmidt says
I don’t want to make art for my shower – I want to go and buy the art that you made, Rosalie and Doug’s SHOWER ART tm.
The main reason I would buy SHOWER ARTtm is because you made it – I’m actually more interested in buying the art directly from the source than making whatever art myself. To me, this product is even more interesting because you made it.
Rosalie Gale says
Kits! Sell kits. And make sure your website/store is clear that yours is the original shower art. You’ve probably already considered these but you know, just in case.
Very well written article and as someone who makes jewelry I love how your perspective shift turned everything around. I am so impressed and will try to put this into practice in my own life. They say you cannot change what happens to you only how you react to it. Love this mindset shift!
Brittany Bly says
Great post. I love hearing the multiple sides to the story. Now I’m going to look at your Shower Art and perhaps make a purchase sometime.
I love Ugly Baby Shower Art. The first time I saw your work on Etsy I knew I needed some, stat! I liked the idea of art in the shower, I liked the funny slogans, glitter and suspended trinkets. I bought one piece for myself and one as a gift. Years later while visiting Seattle I was in a shop and recognized your work. I was so excited. I felt like a longtime member the shower art scene.
Hats off to the O.G. Shower Art folks. Hope this bruhaha brings in more sales for you.
There are so many issues here to tie oneself in knots over and I find I have a foot in both camps. I would be annoyed if the tutorial was actually nothing like the processes used, i.e. different materials as this is false representation. I would say though that none of us know that we are the first to do anything. The world is a big big place and the internet and google search is just a part of it. I am not sure I do find a suction pad at the back of a piece of art work to be a usp which deserves much protection and respect as such. Such things are available to all and are really not rocket science in terms of a big idea. I don’t see this idea being worthy of special protection anymore than the general arena of the stuffed toy for example. For instance your elephant, my elephant. Both elephants, maybe same materials, maybe different but different in any case because we are different people. Even if our processes were to be the same. What about the whole concept of painting. Someone originally had that initial idea of putting oil paints on canvas. Were they annoyed when someone else did the same? Did they try and stop them?
Most people have competition for their products. It’s inevitable. We all only do as we do, whatever that is because of knowledge passed on. If everyone held on to it, or put a price all the information we have all benefited from then we probably wouldn’t all be able to read or operate our computers, work a sewing machine or put a pattern together in a recognisable way. It’s just that there are many things already in the public domain that we take for granted. At one time these would have been new ideas too. We just put a price on everything these days. Too much I feel. I believe that we now know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
I’ve just watched an online painting course as well as a drawing one. The drawing one especially was very proscriptive. Chances are that if people start using that info that they paid for on the course in their own work, that the tutor will get annoyed at them and want credit and will cry foul. What did they teach it for then? If they don’t want people to benefit don’t pass on the knowledge. I have seen that very thing happen several times and it annoyed me. One tutor wished to be credited, and the other wished to curtail other artist’s work – this artist accused many of copying her own style. They both accused people of copying their work. Yet no one credits their own teachers who taught them in art school and there is no difference to the concept at all, i.e. information for money changing hands. There surely is a lot of hypocrisy out there! Much of art at the moment is trend led and somewhat generic in any case.
Kim Thittichai says
many thanks for writing about this and for being so honest about how you dealt with it. I would have been incandescent with anger. Well done for turning it into a positive, it is a situation we can all learn from.
Impressed with your entire thought process. I think I”d come out swinging too but I don’t know if my way would have ended as gracefully. And, now I’m going to go check out your Etsy shop.
Ambika K Sudhakaran says
That’s a great story, honest, and I am glad you reconciled your feelings and came out stronger and more inspired!
Copying or “being inspired” happens all the time right? And I believe all artist’s should for a style that is uniquely theirs, that will find its voice in any huge crowd. And then copying doesn’t matter AT ALL.
I remember an instance of an artist who started painting on XYZs (a utensil) and it became a huge hit, making it premium-priced works of art. However a few months later, he woke up to the fact that a few others had started painting XYZs in designs similar to theirs, and selling for half the price. Heated support flared up on his blog and facebook page… “report-abuse them”, “file a complaint”, etc. etc. Was there a need to get so worked up?! He was already a known name in the industry. And painting XYZs is something ANYONE can do and sell. No one can patent that “idea”.
article aside, which I enjoyed. I m sooo buying one of these! I love them and would have otherwise maybe not come across them. My 4 year old loves them too! She wants to make one. Rosalie Gale, kids kit maybe?
Deanna McCool says
This is always a hot topic and I think she handled it well – all her feelings are very valid even if the tutorial writer didn’t really do anything “wrong” and even gave some credit. This is life in the creative fields online! I like her solution. I’m adding a link to this post in my newsletter this week.
Don’t be hating on the Midwest! Really great people! And cherish your husband – he is a keeper!
I kid! I kid about the Midwest! And I agree about Doug. People are giving me kudos but really he should get them all for having a level head and knowing what’s important from the start.
Have you thought about marketing and selling your own, DIY kits? It could be an opportunity for a new product and would be fun for kids Birthday Parties.
All the best,
I remind my husband every time we go to a craft show or visit an art studio that he is NOT to say…”you could totally make that”! Could I? Maybe…I am kind of crafty but mostly I’d rather buy the lovely handmade things we see. I’d rather support the artisans and focus my crafting on my narrow little world of the time intensive quilting projects that I love.
I second the commenters who suggest you sell kits and/or your own tutorial. I don’t know if you’ve done this or not but you might want to “comment” on the copycat tutorial post and gently inform folks that it isn’t actually an accurate representation of what you do. It might yield a product they like but it won’t be like yours.
Susan the farm quilter says
Hubby had the correct attitude, but so did you! Interesting, when googling “shower art with resin”, the links come up but the posts have been deleted. Best possible outcome…the author finally figured out that copying inaccurately a process that provides someone else with their livelihood is just not on (I have no idea if they had “help” along that path). Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
Alisa Benay says
I love the way you describe how you went through the thought process of being copied. Your shower art is adorable! If you make a tutorial, you should consider doing an in-depth tutorial that’s a paid product.
Here’s a great article from Katwise about when she broke down & started selling instructions on how to make her unique product & how it turned her business into something she never dreamed of: http://www.katwise.net/blog/?p=1488
I’m starting to release my bolero patterns for sale & my thought process behind it is that if I only MAKE boleros, I can only earn a certain capped amount of money because there are only so many hours in the day. But if I sell patterns, then those can be sold over & over again. And honestly, the finish product & the pattern are targeted at two completely different customers.
Jann from Newton Custom Interiors says
I loved reading this story. My first thought was anger for you, but then I thought maybe it would actually increase your sales because it drew attention to your product. I think that lot of people won’t want to bother making the product and will buy yours instead. Thanks for sharing!
Kate G says
It’s always fantastic to read the story behind a smart, forward-thinking business decision. Thanks, Abby and thanks to Rosalie and Doug for not getting mired in what was really fan enthusiasm. Smart folks those two.
This just shows how awesome these guys are, what a great response! I freaking love their art, by the way. I went a bit nuts in their crafty wonderland booth last year and am so happy every time I see their awesome art in my shower!
Rosalie Gale says
Oh! Thanks so much!
Kathy Howard says
When you get the tutorial up, you might want to have kits available. If you don’t want to do it yourself, find someone that could do it for you. Paying someone else might not give you much income, but the customers would like it. The employee could be a retired person who wants some additional income, or a handicapped person that needs a job.
You can copyright the written tutorial.
Some people who try your tutorial are going to find it hard to get the results you did, just because you have had to build up skill doing it. They will appreciate your product even more.
Libby Unwin says
Ooooh sister, I have to say, my stomach was in knots for you when I started reading. But what a fine and admirable way to switch gears. You have handled this so very well, and I commend you. Fist bump.
I’m thinking something along the lines of Alabama Chanin, which sells kits and books on how to make similar clothing. Now, I will be trying it myself, because their pieces are so expensive and they don’t come in my size, but I have the time to do so.
I will also be looking at the Shower Art store!
I actually think that’s a great analogy, Heidi. Alabama Chanin clothes are so special and Natalie’s technique is so unique, and yet she shares how its done in books, workshops, and online classes. I don’t think that diminishes her brand or the specialness of her originals at all. If anything, it enhances it.
This was very interesting and the “copying” was going to happen sooner than later. That’s part of competition and the marketplace. But no way would I provide a tutorial for that to happen. If your product is different, I’d just say so on the website.
Rosalie, as soon as I read your story, I thought you just have to see this “tutorial” from Saddleback Leather — so clever and an awesome way to deal with knock-offs! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a11wlngpuSY
Thought you might find it inspirational. 😉
Linda Gillian says
Thanks for walking through the range of emotions with us. I love that you are having a happy ending to this. I had never heard of shower art but now I have. I am interested in your product and process. I will be watching for the tutorial. . . . .but I probably won’t try it myself! Just interested as a craft person.
Thanks again for walking through this with us.
Indie Craft Sampler says
We support you Rosalie 100%!!! Great article & truly finding the silver lining in a bad situation…
In the Book “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words (Hardcover) by Malka Marom” Joni says that Mary Cassatt invented Impressionism and Manet made fun of her for doing “dot dot dash dash” art. She says Manet and Seurat copied her and they’re the ones that get the credit for that art form.
Obivously, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if it’s true. Just thought it was interesting…
I think we in the creative pursuits tend to frequently misunderstand intellectual property. This is exacerbated by the fact that, generally, the dollar amounts are so small that very few of these cases ever get argued in court. Therefore, there is also no precedent.
So much of what is said and printed is just plain incorrect. And many folks claim “ownership” over aspects of design that they really have no right to. I do believe this is where the Modern Quilt Guild (and the designers pushing the issue) ran into trouble in their recent dust-up over what constitutes a “derivative” work.
I’m delighted to see Rosalie’s attitude of abundance. It reminds me a lot of what Amy Garro, of 13 Spools has to say on the subject.
It’s worth keeping in mind that while income from things you make is nice, in the long term, it might be nicer to generate more passive income. Patterns, books, online communities (like Bonnie Christine’s Roost Tribe), and similar endeavours may end up being more lucrative with less long-term effort. Embrace teaching people to do what you do!
Cindy Roth says
Rosalie, I’m impressed with how you chose to “rise above” and process the feelings, before firing off angry emails. Excellent article. I’ve worried and looked for copycats and DIY tutorials on my products before, and realized that my target customer is paying for my high quality finished product. There will always be people who say “I can do that myself” and attempt to make your item, for themself. No way around that with them trolling Etsy and Pinterest, etc. for ideas.
Here’s my question though: When an Etsy copycat shop decides to make your item and sell it for less, because so many of them don’t care if they are copying, then are you going to do something about that?
Celtic Cate says
Husbands can be infuriatingly calm and upbeat when this kind of thing happens. HA! I think sometimes the reason it hurts so much is that you’ve given birth to a new creation (you went through the sleepless nights, hardly ate decently for two years, went into labor, dished out the money to raise it, and sent it out into the world). It is your BABY. It’s like someone, even unintentionally, is saying, “Hey, look at this beautiful baby! Let’s make one just like it!” IMPOSSIBLE! But how kind of you to say, “Okay…this is how I raised my baby,” and let them give it a try. I applaud you. I’ve had a few designs ripped off too, but I don’t have a shop. I think it’s all about courtesy. If I make a gift from a free design that an artist/crafter/sewist/hooker/jewelry maker makes available on their blog, and then I give it to someone as a gift, I always credit where it’s from, especially because so many in the arts and crafts world are so generous with free designs from time to time. We just need to give credit where it’s due. I’m glad it’s working out for you. No one will ever be able to make your baby, even if they’re following your tutorial, because you’re YOUnique!!!
Weeks Ringle says
This is the identical situation we experienced in 2000 when we started seeing people copying our quilts because we weren’t selling the patterns. I went into a quilt shop and the woman saw my company credit card and said, “Oh yeah, a woman was in here with one of your catalogs wanting to copy it.” I called Bill from the parking lot and said, “We have to start selling patterns.” Because people were going to copy our quilts and we could either be part of the process and have it be profitable or just be mad about it.
I think it’s best to be part of the process. Thanks for sharing your story, Weeks.
Anna Kulcsar says
So I am trying to start a wreath making business and I have just been using pictures that I find on pinterest as the templates for my wreaths. Is that stealing or infringing? I really don’t want to do that to anybody because I get that business can be hard. How can I find inspiration without infringing? 🙂
If you’re starting a business you want your products to be unique and original to you. That way you’re starting on a solid foundation and can create a look you’ll become known for. Using an image you found on Pinterest as a template is probably not a good idea for that reason. I’m not sure exactly what you need as a wreath template, but could you take your own photo and use that? Or find an image that’s in the public domain?