Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rinse, Repeat

How is it that I can have so much more to do on a day designated vacation. The kids were more of a handful without the daily school routine. I had thought I'd get at least least one free day while they played happily, but no it was all battles and drama. I had a great pike of things to tat, but I kept being distracted by things to clean. I don't cook for Thanksgiving, but I do host the dinner since we have the space and most of that space needs a good cleaning. So I'd tat for a spell then do laundry and then tat some more and vacuum something, then tat some more and clean something else. You know what else is sad? I get to do the whole routine over again today and tomorrow, except tomorrow I get to add the family dental appointment to the mix for good measure. I think the yawing kitten photo fits perfectly for today, don't you?

So I'm having a bit of a moral dilemma lately. My needle tatting videos on youtube and the tutorial patterns on Instructables have not only continued to be popular beyond expectations, but appear to have resulted in quite a few new tatters. What's the problem, you ask? Well the problem does not lie in more tatters, that is wonderful and completely my intention. The problem is many of them, even ones who have not gone any further than those lessons are immediately opening up shop to sell their wares. Still not a giant issue, I realize. I guess what gives me pause is the number of them requesting to sell my designs or 'modifications' of them online. I try to be friendly and remind people that I make no money sharing those patterns and helping people learn, but my job, my business is selling finished pieces and forgive me, but I really don't want to create an army of competitors for my business. So where is the line? I've even thought to go so far as to pull all my free patterns  and videos down, but I really don't want to do that either. I like that people are learning and sharing. I like that people enjoy working my patterns, but I fear that I am just setting myself up for more copycat drama. Why do so many people immediately figure they can sell what they make, when they've just learned the craft themselves? There are a wide variety of crafts I make that I would never attempt to sell and it took a long time before I decided to sell tatting. Any insights or opinions on these subjects would be greatly appreciated. Am I making a mountain of a molehill? I know there have got to be plenty of folks learning from my efforts with the simple intention of learning and sharing and I would hate to take anything away from them, ever.

Well that was a lot of unintended drama for the morning. Now off to the planned cleaning, tatting and child rearing drama that I am so used to.


Maj said...

Hi Pamela. I am grateful to you for having put your tatting tutorials on youtube. I have been wanting to learn tatting for quite a while, but only attempted it, when I realised you can tat with needles. And your tutorials are really good and easy to follow. I would hate to see them disappear from the net.
On the other hand I do follow your second thoughts... That is one of the things we have to consider as professionals, or when you are really good at something, how much do we want to share? For sure, as soon as you put something out there on the ether, some copycat will claim your idea as their own.
On the other hand, I have met so much support and generousity online, and sharing is a great big part of it, it would be sad to ignore that part, don't you think?
I guess you could try stressing the high quality and originality of your work, which is what sets your work most apart from "beginner copycats."
And it does show!
Best of luck!
Maj Carita

Tatfully Yours said...

I think that ALL tatters (new and old) need to learn not just the stitches but the whole business of taking and sell other peoples ideas and hard work! You just don`t do that! When I teach or show any one my tatted items and am quick to say who the designer is and not take credit for their work!!

Jane Eborall said...

Great minds think alike - have you seen this similar blog post?
Although I don't try to make a living with my stuff I do object strongly to people selling MY hard designed very original patterns online. OR obvious 'look alikes' of them.

Marilee Rockley said...

Well, here's my 2 cents worth on the copycat issue and newbies selling their stuff.
I figure that if they actually have talent and develop a genuine passion for the craft, they will get bored of making copies and move on to creating their own designs. If they don't have talent/passion, their stuff will look crappy, they'll get very few sales, and they'll get bored of the whole thing and move on to something else.
You've got your own unique style and flair, and that is something nobody else can really copy.

TotusMel said...

Thanks for all your comments & opinions all!

Jane- Thanks for the blog link! I hadn't seen that yet, but apparently I'm not alone in my feelings.

Yarnplayer- You are of course right and I hope this is just passing stress and time sorts it all out.

I'm sure I'll leave what I have up, but like Jon, I might just have to be a little more thoughtful about what I do choose to share in the future.

Unknown said...

I learned from your videos and they have taught me a totally new skill that I absolutely love. I don't know if you remember our emails back when but as someone who doesn't sell anything online that isn't just junk in my closet on ebay, I believe I had promised you that I'd never compete with you on the etsy or online sales front and I asked you about it out of respect if you wouldn't mind me selling at local craft shows (which I still haven't). However from time to time I will try to figure out how you did a particular motif only to further my own skills and those little motifs go out as gifts to friends or loved ones or just get buried in my tat box. I don't sell. Period. I do buy from you still as often as I can afford it in order to help support you. I spread the word to my friends online when I can. I work full time so I'm not online too much.
Why not write some of your own patterns and sell them too? There's actually a few places you could create your own ebooks and sell them for $5-10. Upon selling the books have a only for private use agreement that goes along with it. There are knitters/crocheters out there that are going through the same thing that tatters and other crafters are going through. Don't take your free stuff down. Make some patterns that you think others would like to make and then sell the patterns. I'd buy them!!

AJ said...

When people contact you asking to sell your designs... say no. Simple as that :) It's nice that they're asking instead of just deciding they can sell it, but that doesn't mean you have to be OK with it. There is nothing wrong with politely saying that your free patterns are for personal use only. That's the standard in beading, and I'm sure it's the standard in most other crafts.

victats@gmail.com said...

While you can expect a certain amount of competition especially as more and more people find etsy I don't think you need to spoon feed your competitors. If they have the skills to sell their tatting then they can make their own designs.

Anonymous said...

OMG i had to leave comment here when I saw u are into tatting and tattoos! I have a site for both...lol I am re-learning to do tatting after learning shuttle from Nuns as a very young kid.. Only got the needle tatting 4 now. Shuttle is harder with bad left hand. My tatting site is http://tatting.me I just started it a month or 2 ago.
Love your Blogger site too btw. Theme is awesome! b4n

Jo Campbell said...

As a creative person, I love being inspired by amazing things other people have made but I would hate to copy anyone's work. I want my work to be original. I've considered the possibility that someone might like my ideas enough to steal them but I've had to decide that I can only be responsible for what I do (and I'm going to be true to who I am). I don't think you should allow the behaviour of these people to change who you are and what you do.

And, although I have yet to try tatting, it would be a shame not to have your tutorials when I do finally find time.


mickchick831 said...

Speaking for us copycats I have to say it would be a great disservice to the tatting community not to have your tutorials and patterns available to new tatters. After I had been tatting for a while I did consider selling some pieces that I make, however I quickly realized that the items I make are not near the quality of those who have been doing this for years. I also found that even the idea of selling these items took the fun out of making them. Suddenly a relaxing and often challenging hobby became work.
I lost interest in that notion pretty quickly. I find much more satisfaction blog hopping and check out others designs and try to remake them. I have since gifted several items made from others designs (always giving credit to creator).
I discovered your instructables tutorial about 2 years ago, that is how I learned. I have since taught a couple of friends how to tat and have referred them to your videos for reference.
On Thanksgiving this year I had the opportunity to teach my 12 year old cousin to make your medallion as her first project. She was so thrilled with what she had made she shared it with every family member she saw that day. She also taught (with supervision) one of her other preteen cousins to make one. Looks like they will be getting tatting supplies for Christmas from their now favorite older cousin.
So not only has your work inspired me and my crafty friends (who do not sell their items), it is inspiring a new generation of young crafters. I imaging these girls are going to go back to their homes, all of us in different states, and take their necklaces to school thus inspiring who knows how many others to go online and search for how to's and finding you videos.
Competition can be an excellent source of inspiration. Even though tatting has been around for a long time, you have taken it to a new level. You create inspiring pieces and are often recognized on a level no other tatter has reached. So while those who learn from you may be selling their items, I can not imagine that they are any true competition. They may be able to make knots in string, but to create, inspire and teach takes something most do not have. If they did have it, they come up with there own instead of being a copycat.