it’s time to make some new magic

in the hour of darkness, we shine like stars by pintmeldia - click image to view more

Jan, at Poppytalk, wrote an impassioned post over at Poppytalk today about the magic missing from the handmade ‘net.

I love the spirit of the post and the underlying sadness is earnest and real: there are those that will copy artists & innovators to get ahead.

She says:

I’m reminded that in as much as the internet has helped handmade art, handmade artists and the whole handmade movement, it is also crushing the magic, the beautiful, the real handmade, the original.

I’d like to take the spirit of her words one step further. I’d like to issue a challenge.

Magic comes from innovation. Magic isn’t just something you can put out into the world and hope it lasts.

The handmade ‘net was magical because it was new. It was a new iteration of the age old tradition of gathering a community around art & craft & all things beautiful.

But magic – spirit – power doesn’t last forever.

Magic requires constant reinvention, spells cast anew.

Unfortunately, copy cats are as age old as these traditions, too. I’ve been the victim of them myself. I’ve done new things, made a name for myself, and seen those same things copied by others.

Copy cats will always exist. They will always be there to steal away bits of magic from the words, deeds, and brushstrokes of artists.

There is only one thing that keeps copy cats at bay: creating new things. As bloggers, crafters, writers, creatives, entrepreneurs, we can’t hope to return to a time of magic. If we’re the true artists, it’s our job to always be looking to create something new, innovate, discover, collaborate, inaugurate, design, develop.

Don’t give in to the copy cats but don’t let them control your life. As an artist, you are in control of the spells you cast and the magic your weave.

My challenge is to simply focus on the road ahead. On what is to come. And how you can create it.

My challenge is to never become too comfortable with what you have. Or what you’ve produced.

My challenge is to see the magic in possibility. And bring possibility to fruition.

12 thoughts on “it’s time to make some new magic

  1. Bravo! So true and so well said. I’ve had few dealings since every piece that I make is, literally, a one of a kind item made using recycled leather.

    However, I’ve had friends who have dealt with it and you’re right. Stay original and remember the old saying, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

  2. There were a few different things going on in the Poppytalk post, most of which I agree with, some of which I’m not so sure about. I’ve been involved in the “handmade ‘net” in some shape or form since 2003, first as a maker and shop owner, and now as a blogger and crafter aspiring to get back into selling. When I had a shop, I had a customer purchase one of my products, reverse engineer it and admit publicly that she’d done so before she turned around and sold it in her shop (it became her bestseller, by the way), but I’ve also had friends who have been wrongly accused of copying someone’s work, which could’ve unfairly damaged their reputations if the person making the accusations would’ve gone public.

    My increasing frustrating with topics of this nature is that there’s a massive gray area when it comes to being inspired vs. copying. And who’s deciding where the line is between the two? Sometimes it’s pretty clear cut, but much of the time it’s not.

    So, where does this leave people who are trying to innovate and keep the magic in their work? I can empathize with one of the commenters in the Poppytalk post when she said that she wants to get into blogging about her crafts but feels stymied because she creates something, only to turn around and discover that it’s been done before. If she posted her creation anyway, would she be considered a copycat, even if she didn’t know that something similar was already out there? In my opinion, no, but if someone with clout decided that she was, then what?

    I think that some of the lack of “magic” in the handmade ‘net lately has to do with people being copied to the point that it’s just not worth it for them anymore (and this is truly sad), but I also think that there are many highly talented people out there who are afraid of being accused of being copycats, even if they’re not, so they don’t bother going public with what they’re doing. And we’re all missing out as a result.

    Personally, I try to keep my head down and focus on what I’m doing and what I’m putting out there, but I still have concerns, and sometimes those concerns can take the magic away in a second.

  3. copying is so much the easy way out and jan’s original idea was such a good one that it isn’t surprising that its becoming the new model for bloggers. *but* it really sucks to see that her time and energy aren’t considered by others.

    i have a copy cat that bites my every design with her own slight spin, advertising “the hottest trends” at a lesser price (which is +/- 35% less than mine pretty much across the board). she is my shadow. infuriating and i sort of like that – it really necessitates constant movement, like a shark πŸ˜‰

    and why copy at all? sure its easier and lucrative in the short run…but who really wants to be the remora in the relationship?

  4. Tara,

    You created this wonderful call to action that inspires me to continue doing what I do and push forward rather than wallowing. I was very close to wallowing about ten minutes ago after reading the post on Poppytalk. After reading your post, I do believe that there is hope and more magic for me to create.

    Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much for this response to the Poppytalk post. It is my feelings about this exactly. There is no way to remain “original” or “unique” in a world of constant reinvention where we are ALL influenced by everything that we see in one way or another.

    It is a necessity for all artists to keep on creating new work to stay relevant in any creative field. The handmade market is booming now, and I am so happy that more people, especially women, are going back to making things, for ourselves, and for others. I’m so sick of reading elitist comments about stealing ideas around the net. There is no way that certain artists were the first to create handmade dolls using vintage scraps of fabric in HISTORY, ect…ect…ect…the first to use glitter in resin jewelry, the first to knit fingerless gloves…ect…ect…ect…

    I can’t even believe that when it comes to handmade crafts, attorneys will invest their time and energy in fighting for the so-called “original”. My grandma never complained about others copying her style.

    It’s different than claiming to be the artist of a truly original piece that was created by someone else, I mean the EXACT piece that was made by someone else, and trying to sell it as your own…

    I know it must be upsetting for an businesswoman who is very comfy selling her stuff for good money seeing cheaper replicas selling better, but that is the nature of the business.

    Buyers have their favorite sellers and will continue to buy from certain artists because of their own personal reasons. That is the beauty of a handmade piece.

  6. Thank you for this Tara! I can totally understand the pain & frustration felt that led to the Poppytalk post. But, I also feel a sense of sadness myself. These posts are meant to raise awareness (always a good thing), but I always sense a divide forming. I’m a newbie blogger, so will I automatically be looked on with suspicion? I would love to have more readers, so I’ve started marketing myself & my blog. Will that be looked on with suspicion?

    I don’t know. But, I do know I’m going to keep on trekking along. But, maybe I need to quit reading any post that’s mourning the loss of that magic….

    Like you say, make new magic…

  7. You put that so well…. I read poppytalks post to … and it makes you think and it drives you on… as a new seller on Etsy I see the drive needed and you post just gave me a little bit more drive ..thank you for sharing.

  8. Exactly! Love this post. Amy of Pikaland wrote something with a similar message some time ago and it’s always stuck with me. It’s annoying and frustrating, but being creative and innovative isn’t a goal or end point, it’s a way of life. And if this is the life you’ve chosen, then copycats are your signal that the coffee break is over, and it’s time to get back to work creating and innovating.

    (I also like to believe that copycats and those seeking to profit off the work of others will have their own circle in hell where they have their words repeated back to them like that annoying little brother for all of eternity!) πŸ˜‰

  9. I agree with Terri. Sometimes I too get the feeling that the ‘blogger club’ is closed? Although I’ve been a blogger for years and years, I’ve recently started a blog where I talk about the people and products that inspire me (as you know). Of course I was influenced by lovely blogs like Poppytalk (and many others) to make this step. Doesn’t mean that I don’t absolutely LOVE blogging or that I’m doing this just to make money. Sure I want to promote myself and I would hope that some day I can look back and see my blog has grown and thrived like the blogs of those that inspire me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. There’s enough space on the web for all of us and I think authenticity speaks louder than anything else because of it. So thank you Tara, for this post.

  10. So very true. I had a case of being copied again not that long ago and it was advice along these lines that really made me see perspective. It keeps me moving, keeps my work fresh so that I can stay one step ahead. It’s also given me a drive to further my skills so that there will be less people with an ability to copy what I create.

    I’m a daily reader, but a lazy commenter, so while I’m here, I’d love to say thank you for your amazing posts!

  11. I hope magic can continue to exist in the individuality and hopefully the persistent passion will pull artisans through whatever challenges come along….might mean totally changing direction for a short time.

    I’ve been an online artisan since 1996 and have a great variety of experiences of copying and blatant “rip-offs”. I refuse to cave in and will continue to pursue my passion! (even through the frustration and legal fights!)

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