The Sidetrack Cafe No. 4: A New Magic (Part III)

Hold On to Your Dreams by Creative Thursday

Please read Part I first and then Part II before reading this.

Hi from both of us; this we're hoping will be the last (for awhile) on the subject of magic, copying, etc., but we just wanted to tie a few loose ends up this week and tell you our plans with respect to all of it.

We spoke up, because we felt it needed to be done. And thank you to the community for all of the support. That was magical to see your response. Those of you who wrote, commented, tweeted; thank you for restoring the magic and keeping it real. It's an issue we are going to take forward in a more stronger sense in the months to come in some sort of capacity - the definitions just haven't worked themselves out yet.

Our take on copying goes like this. If you are making something for yourself, a friend, your mother, then D.I.Y. away. If you have the skills and love creating, that's your business if it's for personal use only. But if you're going to sell it, then that's where it crosses the line. You're going to loose credibility fast and not only is it uncool, it just can't make you feel good.

With respect to copying our business model. What we were speaking to was more about the unfairness to the handmade community versus copying our idea. To be fair to the community, a market like ours needs the readership from an established blog like ours to send traffic to it. Some started a blog with the launch of their market or perhaps 2 months before. As well, the poor ethics in which some of these markets were created. (e.g. first by participating in ours to see how it worked, and then by offering our vendors free space to create a false sense of a successful market to others visiting. Then others would then join, and so on and so on). That was the clincher and what we were talking about. What we are saying is, "buyer beware".

With respect to newbie's teaching e-courses on blogging and marketing that have no credentials, also, buyer beware. It wasn't to discourage newbies, but the opposite, to empower them to not buy into these types of courses. There are alot of good courses out there by established people from the community, and we will address some of that soon (see second last paragraph about our plans).

And with respect to the newcomer. We can't stress how much we love new. Especially in this business. Because things get old fast online and we like things fresh and new. So we disagree with anyone saying it's harder for the newbie. It's not. If you have talent and are original in some way you have just as much a chance to be featured as any established artist out there. There is no elitism. Anyone who knows us ore reads this blog knows that. One of the reasons we're doing this is for the underdog. We're champions of those sorts of things and we cannot bear to see any type of unfairness, deception, or elitism.

If we haven't replied to your email, or haven't posted about your work, then there's two things at play. We haven't had time, or we haven't seen your email. We're getting at least 200 emails a day; and a lot of it goes into the junk folder, which we are currently looking into and in the meantime, try to check, but there's just some days it empties itself before we can get to it. So we're sorry for that. So try us again, and if we still don't reply, then try again and ask why. We truly will respond if we can.

And now for our plans. In the new year we are going to be offering up something "in the spirit" of the way the old internet days were. It's going to be free, and it's going to help those who feel they need help out there. We are excited about it and we hope it will start a new wave of "magic". In the meantime if you have any questions feel free to email us.

Also if you get a chance, please visit Renee of Wolfie and the Sneak on the tragic things happening with respect to design theft and Marisa of Creative Thursday who wrote a thoughtful post on Becoming an Original in responce to our posts. They're both worth the read!

Till then, we think it's time to get on with the season! Thanks again for your readership and for your support.

jan and earl

Jan Halvarson


sarah ahearn bellemare said...

jan + earl,

i'm a little late to the party here, but i wanted to be sure to pop in and say thanks so much for this post, you have said everything so eloquently, both here and in the other two posts, and it's so important that you brought it all to light. thank you.

you, my dears, are making magic everyday here on poppytalk...

you were the first blog i found supporting artists and craftspeople and i continue to look and "listen" everyday to what you are showing us here... you are truly leading the way and helping lots of folks be seen with their work.
you have created a very special place here and over on your market, and for that, i for one am forever grateful!
i owe so much to you both for helping me get my work out on the internet, as you so nicely paved the way with your market!

i hope that this conversation will continue, but i know that *much magic* will be made here in the years to come...

thank you for all you do!
xo *sarah

when skies are grey said...

I had to say that I really appreciate your posts on this whole matter, they've been so well articulated and something that needs to be addressed. And rather then discouraging for newbies, I believe they are really just helping them to create a better framework of ideas and how it all works. While there is a lot of blatant copying, it seems like there is so much stylistic copying as well. Where as I view it as obvious I wonder sometimes if the people don't even realize what they're doing. Thanks again for your thoughts :)

when skies are grey said...

^^oops! Do you mind deleting one of those, didn't think the prior had posted :) Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Reading Parts 2 & 3 fill me with both hope and sadness. I am hopeful about this new venture you mention. But I am sad that you state this is your last post on the topic.

After I read the first part, I wrote a post on ethics and creating community action. Far too often, I see a blogger take up this issue only to stir up a lot of anger and move on.

My platform is not large enough to organize bloggers and artists to act as a community. But I would love to join an effort to organize the online creative community around copycatting.

Fiona Cartolina said...

Another fab post - great job you two.
My personal beef is with the " newbie's teaching e-courses on blogging and marketing."
This infuriates me.
Especially when I see the words, "Anyone can do this, you just have to believe in yourself."
After being self employed artist for 20 years Doug and I believe that it is irresponsible and misleading to encourage anyone and everyone to be a crafter or an artist and " . . if you just sign up right here we will lead you to unfathomable successes."
I think that most people don't have the stamina to produce an original product and, after months of frustration, they reduce themselves to copying.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, a crafter or an artist but there are a lot of folk out there who promise to lead these would-be's to fame and fortune - it's the old snake oil salesmen - you gotta watch for them!

PS - I try and promote your handmade market every month - I'm a believer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jan & Earl, for being so responsive to your readers and leaving no loose ends. As a new blogger, I've felt the stress of self-promoting without being inauthentic, the tension of how to gain readership without becoming a salesman of my ideas, and the paranoia that my blog will look too similar to others out there. However, I have witnessed an incredible, unexpected community develop among bloggers and artists, with more feedback and advice than I'd dreamed, and have felt nothing but supported anytime I've connected with the Poppytalk team.
I also have NO reason or need to copy anyone, at anytime. So I'll take a breath and won't let the subject matter at hand depress me without hope. I encourage other bloggers and crafters with pure motives to do the same!

Jinnie said...

Thank you both for bringing this topic up.
It's something I've always wanted to speak up about on my own blog but haven't because I'm not so good with words. Fortunately, I haven't been ripped off (but who knows) but over the years I've read so many cases of copying that it's bogged ME down. I completely agree when you say "buyer beware" and vendors, too! I saw a local handmade store selling knock-offs and it's quite discouraging. And those who offer e-courses should include a lesson on copyrights!

Thanks again and keep it up!

Jan Halvarson said...

Sarah - Thank you so much for your kind words today. We are honoured. It means alot to us.

When Skies are Grey - I think you have a good point. I think some of them don't realize what they are doing.

Brigitte - Thank you for your passion about this. We didn't say it was the last post on this subject; we said it was the last for "awhile". It's a huge undertaking - your suggestion, and i think there are a few organizations working on these things in some capacity or another.

Fiona - i like those words you used that it is "irresponsible and misleading" to encourage anyone and everyone to be a crafter or an artist (with respect to new bloggers offering up e-courses). I really don't understand those that would buy into it either.

And thank you for all your support with our markets, you have been amazing that way.

Decorativity - wow - thank you!

Jinnie - thanks for taking the time to comment. seriously, a handmade store selling knock offs - that is discouraging!

Anonymous said...

love you guys more. thank you for all the support you've shown me since the beginning.

Mandy Behrens said...

Thank you both! Looking forward to the new year with your guidance and support. Cheers, Mandy

Hoppin' Up said...

As a "newby" in blogland, I have read all these posts and comments with a bit of a knot in my stomach. A couple of months ago I started a blog and an Etsy shop, like so many other people. And I too have been inspired by real and true artists.

I don't see myself as a designer, I am just someone with a healthy dose of craftiness and a restricted budget, selling my stuff to be able to keep creating. I don't expect to get rich, generate tons of traffic on my blog or be famous. I just want to have fun making things and if possible, make others smile with the things I make.

Sometimes, the things I make resemble stuff others have made. Most of the time, someone else has to show me that it has been done before. No bad intentions. No production in China. Just a stay at home mom trying to keep developing my skills.

Somehow your posts have given me a bad feeling about doing what I love. I know it was not directed at me personally, but it did kind of take the fun out of it.

I hope that a good night's sleep will restore my inspiration. And I hope that I am the only "newbie" who feels this way. I know you meant well and it needed to be said, but still. For us who mean well it's kind of wry.

Jan Halvarson said...

Maaike - There are trends and trends create similar things, eg, there's really only a couple ways to bind a book, but what I was saying, is obvious copying. Please don't stop creating, but if you are selling, all I am saying is try to be original. So if you're inspired by something, just get more creative and try to make it your own. Maybe something unique from the area you live (in the Netherlands) - there's so much inspiration from there. I think it gets messy when everyone is using the same fabrics etc. What is unique with you, to your area? What do you love about that area, and then bring it into your work somehow to make it unique and stand out. Trends will be trends and if you wish to do that, well, then just try to twist them somehow. My posts are only meant to empower, not flatten ones creative juiices. It can happen that two people may make similar things by chance, but it's about others that unfairly copy, that's what we are talking about.

Hoppin' Up said...

I get where you're coming from, and I do agree. I do think though that there is a difference between designing (creating something completely new) and crafting (creating something using other materials, not necessarily new). And I admit that not everything I sell is completely original, I am after all not a designer, just a stay at home mom who wants to make pretty things but can't keep them all to myself.

Even though I was a little sad when I read your reaction, I do thank you. It did push me to make new things again. It's still far from design, but I hope it may make you smile a little.

I hope you dont mind, but I posted about this discussion on my blog today. If you want I can put a link to your messages in there. Just let me know.

Have a nice weekend!