Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Artist, Beware!

Last week, my friend Jen asked me to tea so she could pick my brain about getting into the artist biz. I immediately said "Yes, buy me a Starbuck's and I will tell you anything you want to know!" I believe strongly in mentoring. What good is having success in life if you can't pass on what you know to someone else?

Besides which, I think that success is always a shared thing-no one gets where they are without the help of others, whether it's someone who supports your decision to express yourself, or the person who gives you good advice, the person who helps you with the grunt work or someone who inspires you to follow your dreams. No one gets where they are without support-look at any of the big time awards shows-there's always a long-winded thank you speech that comes after a win!

Anyway, Jen and I spent quite some time talking about various aspects of the biz and one thing I talked about was branding. Alot of what I know about branding I learned from my pal Deb Trotter. Deb's done a ton of research on what artists should know about building a name for themselves. What I know, I passed on to Jen. Still following me? Okay now I'll get to the crux of this post:

It's come to my attention that someone out there on the world wide web has decided to take the name "Tattered Edge" and start a blog.

On Sunday, I emailed her and politely explained that I had spent a long time building my business and my name. It's out there in the world-I've taught, designed and published under this name. I gave her the benefit of the doubt that being new to blogging (her blog was just started this year) she probably didn't know that she should have at least Googled the name to see if anyone else was using it. Had she done that, lots of hits would have clearly shown her that Tattered Edge is synonymous with Lelainia Lloyd.

When she replied, she told me that she had changed the header on her blog to read "(her name) 's Tattered Edge" and figured that would suffice. I explained that that wasn't really what I meant when I encouraged her to change her blog name. I told her that if slapping your first name in front of someone else's business name was okay, I could go around calling myself "Lelainia Starbuck's" and expect the Starbuck's company to be okay with that. We all know that's not going to fly! Well, she didn't seem to like that an made some snide remarks about me not being kind. She said she thought the art world was a friendly and welcoming place. Well it is, if you have respect for other people and don't try and take what isn't yours and try to pass it off as your own.

Thing is, I am not disputing her right to have a blog. More power to her! I just wish she'd have the good sense to stop using a name I've worked so hard to build. I've been blogging as Tattered Edge since August 2004-anyone who looks at my archives can see that as plain as day. I was blogging in the dark ages of blogging when most people didn't even really have one, much less mixed media artists! It really irks me that someone would do this, be called on it and then have the bad taste to try and make me feel like I was in the wrong.

When I shared this with friends, Jen was quick to say how ironic this was, seeing as we'd just discussed the whole concept of branding and how it works only days before. I guess I forgot to mention the part where you have to deal with this sort of thing. What I want you to know this experience is not specific to me! Sadly, I've known several friends who have fallen victim to this same sort of thing. One friend has a self portrait image swiped off her blog and used in the form of greeting cards on Etsy. It took several cease and desist emails from her and a number of her friends to get the seller to stop.

Another closed down her Typepad blog, the address of which was her name and someone stranger quickly swooped in and snapped it up. This meant that all the traffic that belonged to her-people who were looking to her blog for art-were tricked into viewing a blog bearing her name that had morphed into a site selling stuff, using her name. It had nothing whatsoever to do with art or her personally and there was nothing she could do! She frantically emailed everyone she could think of that had linked to her blog and asked them to disconnect the link, but the damage had been done.

Yet another friend has recently discovered that art is being marketed and sold bearing her trademark. She has posted info on her blog so that people can be sure the art they are buying is indeed hers so the money they are spending is not supporting the person producing the knock offs.

So yes, there are people out there that are doing these kind of things, some of them unwittingly and some of them on purpose, but it's affecting our community whether you've been aware of it or not. I honestly don't know what we can do to stop it, other than to back one another up when it does happen and to be aware ourselves so we don't inadvertantly do the same thing to someone else.

So...if you see something like this happening, please let the artist know and when you make a choice about a blog you visit, or the art you buy, when in doubt, check with the artist to make sure it really is the person you intend to be supporting. If there's no support for knock offs, (be it blogs or actual art) then hopefully it will fizzle and die on its own, as it should.

The good news is that, as my friend Penn always tells me, I've got a very distinctive style and anyone who reads my blog or sees my art knows me in an instant. What you see here is always 100% pure, authentic Tattered Edge. Accept no imitations!


Heather K Ross said...

It's so frustrating when things like this happen. And so very discouraging when you're working so very hard to make a place for yourself in the art world. It also discourages other artists from wanting to mentor. How could a fellow artist not understand how personal and individual another artist's work is? So sad to me.

Raven's Rest Studio, Jennifer Conway said...

I was just talking to someone yesterday about wanting a mentor for myself, and where does one find a mentor? This post is very relevant in my life right now, as there is someone out there that's magically making the same items as me.....to the "T". It's almost a joke at this point - we're making bets as to what she'll be copying next (my bet's on keychains!).....I'm not laughing though, and have no idea what to do about it! aaarrrggghh. Hope it works out for you, and you get your name back!

jennn said...

i just read this post today, and i take a deep breath after reading all this because i just opened my blog yesterday. :)