Bird In The Hand Primitives

Primitive Folk Art Designs and Finished Items
By: Robin Leuschen

" Who you are is God's gift to you........ What you do, is your gift to God !"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As Fall nears, I am struggling with some things.....

I have been involved and creating and designing primitive dolls, stitcheries, wool projects and now my drawings are used for punch needle and rug hooking,oh....I have had a few painters use my designs to paint on wood also, going at it since 2002.
I've never gotten rich doing this, and partly because I can't get myself to charge upwards of $7 - $11 and more per pattern.I've been scolded for giving away so many freebie drawings, that they could be being sold for profit. But my fun has always been to make some folks happy to have a freebie design to make and possibly sell so they can make a few bucks for themselves.Is that bad business ?
Other things are nagging at me. One , is the copy cat scandals. Thankfully, I haven't had a problem with this getting too serious, but...I have seen plenty of copying of my designs , too many times to keep track of, and I sit back and complain about it, get it off my chest , then drop it. Once again, bad business ?
I don't know how many of you remember me from my old Store and website " Me My Shelf & I Designs" ?....I mostly made one of a kind designs by me and sold alot of dolls, santas, angels, ornies you name it, and even my finished items I sold at about 25% -40%
less than what most other doll makers were selling theirs for. Most of them were'nt award winning creations, but many were unique, quality original and made with much care. I started to come into my own and eventually became popular for my unique style, others would comment that they knew a doll was made by me because my dolls had that certain look. it didn't take long and soon I noticed alot of creations looking so much like my own, it couldnt be mistaken, but these folks did their design into a pattern and voila, i felt like the copycat.
I have designs I've come out with going back to 2003 and can look today and see " new" patterns coming out that look almost exactly like my older designs,....I wont go to the person/persons and confront about it, is that bad business ? dilemma is this, there are only so many ways a pumpkin or a cat or a crow or a scarecrow or flowers and wording can be drawn and eventually, you've come up with something that resembles another persons design, totally subconciously.Is that copying ??
I would love to be creative once again and come up with some new designs for fall, but I am so afraid that they will come out looking like the other 1,000 jack o' lanterns , cats, fall foliage etc out there and I will feel sick inside as though someone will take me for a copycat.
I've thought about not doing designing anymore, and while I will enjoy creating projects from others patterns, I will always have a pit in my stomach wondering if I could have furthered myself, been recognized and asked to design for a company ( which has been my dream )....With all the wonderful talented ladies out there that are prim famous for their work, I know I don't hold a light to them, but what if ???
I am sooo torn about this and guess I wanted to vent and maybe get some feed back...if you do comment, please, be honest. Dont be afraid of hurting my feelings, but speak honestly.....
Here are some past creations of mine that ended up as free projects in a magazine ( I was accused of copying, yet I made and sold my doll on ebay 4 years earlier....I even had a lady on FB comment that oh, I must have made it using the pattern from the can I? it was made 4 years before this particular issue came

Belsnickle Santa Ornie I designed in 2008 and made a pattern of last year.

This is a one of a kind hallween stocking I made and sold years ago and someone came out with the pattern for one very similar last year.

Here is one of my patterns I just came out with 2 years ago, and I just saw in the newest newsletter PatternMart, another pattern designer has come up with her own that looks so much like this, my husband thought it was my pattern...

I could go on and on.... but do you see my frustration? do I continue to create my own designs and either risk making something someone else can claim as thier ow, I wiuld be so embarassed, and would never do it intentionally, or constantly see my designs being copied and shut sit back as I've done and just hush.....
I just want to have fun and be creative, but I am worrying over this all the time. I want my designs to be unique and fun, but I would die if I were to step on anyone elses toes and create something that is similar to theirs.....


Wool-Stitches said...

It's a funny thing that you have posted about this subject. This has been on my mind as well. I am certainly not in your league of design but I am starting to wonder if I should be blogging and sharing my ideas online. I worried about my latest project. Could there be another? (most likely) but they certainly don't hook like I do. Your blog is filled with wonderful freebies but how many are actually purchasing your patterns? Your prices are very reasonable. Maybe you need to limit the freebies. You have already given sooo much! I don't think you should give up something that you love. Unfortunately with the web someone is always bound to use your ideas. Wishing you the best! Elaine

The Cinnamon Stick said...

I have been a storekeeper for 27 years and can't even remember when I didn't create. Inspiration comes from everywhere - like you said a Pumpkin is a Pumpkin etc. When young - (64 now) I would see something I drew with my very own hands at a craft show and really get all "upset" and then after awhile it dawned on me...why should I care. (I never fell for that "flattery" crap though)!! I am dealing with a situation right now (something different) and I know how hard it is to keep your mouth closed and not say "hey I was there first" !! However those that YOU care about KNOW the truth and those that want to believe otherwise - can go stuff it! (boy I am tough this morning-(big smile)...But you asked for honesty...I was told by a very smart person..'DON'T LET ANYONE TAKE YOUR "JOY" AWAY FROM YOU"...and I will "copy" her words and tell you NOT TO LET ANYONE TAKE YOUR JOY AWAY FROM YOU !! You are a very talented artist and how sad it would be to stop doing what you love - and how in the world would the others be able to create if they couldn't steal your creativity!! Don't let the uncreative souls in the world take your JOY and the JOY of the people who love your creations!! Sorry I rambled but I could go on and on and on !!!

Kathy (woolfind) said...

Wow Robin, you can tell your heart was in your post. You have been given a gift and you are using it, that is the most important. You are also sharing it with your freebies so generously, and you will be Blessed for that. It really is hard in ths world to come up with something different, unique. It's very evident that if the items you have seen are that similar to yours, then you know they got "their inspiration" from seeing yours. I highly doubt that 2 minds would be gifted with the same idea. we are all inpsired by seeing things we like. I often worry that I am duplicating someone elses work. On a daily basis, we see so many things. To deliberatley copy someone else's work "and" claim it as their own is unthinkable to me.
I wish I had a solution for you, but I don't know what to say. Other than to keep on creating. Pray about it and perhaps you'll know in time what the next direction you should go. You are aware of it, and it's heavy on your heart. The answer will come. Just don't stop what you are doing :)

Wendy @ Ravenwood Whimzies said...

I read your post with interest...I think the problem lies in that you are such a lovely, nice person that to stand up for your rights is difficult....and unfortunately there are people who can/will take advantage of that. I think you need to decide in your mind if you want to use your wonderful talent as a business or if you want to continue doing as you have been.
We all love freebies, but as others suggested, perhaps you should provide less of those and turn the rest into patterns to sell. There is nothing wrong with that and none of us would think less of you for doing so.
You are so talented that you deserve credit for all you do, and there really is nothing wrong with getting paid for that talent.
It would be a terrible shame to give up doing what you simply need to be more firm in your rights as a designer, and don't let others steal your ideas. Not sure if this helped...but sending hugs your way.

peggy said...

dear Robin, we all take from each other, ideas and subjects, but you have a unique gift and you should not worry for one minute what someone else says or writes. They are just wasting valuable time.

I thank you for the spirit in which your patterns are made, putting a price on them with consideration and love for others. If someone takes advantage, it is a loss to their own spirit that will show up in their work.

I have some patterns of yours that I love and was glad to see a post because now I see some more I like..the Thanksgiving ones!

I am 76 years old, have been doing dolls since 1974. I haven't made much money but since I stopped worrying about how others conducted themselves, it has been a great satisfaction. It is always better to err on God's side.

I hope I haven't rambled too much. I was just touched by your post. Blessings. Peggy

*Kountry*Porch*Primitives* said...

Robin, I felt every word that you said!! I too as a designer often worry that some of my designs look similar to someone elses work. I have a couple of samplers that I've designed and I'll be looking at patterns online etc and see something and think wow...that looks like mine..or does mine look like hers?? In the primitive crafting business you hit the nail on the head that there are only so many different pumpkins etc that can be designed in different ways. I guess it all has to come down to integrity and KNOWING that it is YOUR work. I would NEVER copy a design from someone and call it my own as I know that hard work that goes into designing. Your work is beautiful girl!! Giving free patterns is your choice, how could anyone put you down for that?? Keep those fires burning and do what feels good & right. As long as you know the truth that's all that matters!! As for the copycats, shame on them if they are truly copying! Maybe like us it's an uh oh moment if they stumble upon yours at a later way to ever know. Please don't let this take your joy. Do it for YOU. ~Kriss~

Lee Hill Primitives said...

I remembered that the same occurred with someone two years ago and the blog lady send a letter to eBay explaining the situation and showing her designs, they have dates previous the copy design. Then eBay cancel the account for the copycat person. By the way, I love your designs.

The Moonlit Stitch said...

Hi-I wanted to say real quick that I think you are extremely talented and love your prim style! I think it is possible for two people to have a "similar" idea-this is a big old world-but it's obviously possible to outright copy or "receive strong inspiration" from a designer (LOL) also. Either way...please don't let that stop you from sharing and blooming and benefitting from your natural gift! Full speed ahead, woman! ~*~Lisa

LoveThePrimLook said...

I feel so bad for you. People wonder why we get so upset ? Its hard to come up with new ideas. We are inspired to make new exciting things that sometimes take weeks to come up with, only to have someone else come along and claim it as their idea. I am dealing with the same thing right now. This person has a strand of all my lights I have made and is now saying she came up with all these colors. It just makes me sick to my stomach. Keep your chin up sweetie. I think when this happens, its in God's hands.

Raspberry Hill Crafts said...

Copyright it's a tough one especially with all prim/folkart sellers, there's a lot of competition. At the end of the day you are business and you are competing against others. Giving away freebies is great but I really think it should be one occasionally with definite rules as to the use. As for patterns well if you stick a copyright on there but also say can be made for profit {as long as not mass produced}. Mass production are we meaning one or 100?, and if I buy a pattern, to protect myself from the © problem, say I change slightly, the size, the features and then make and it my design. This is what I truly believe happens, someone buys the pattern or sees a picture and they then change it in some way. Think when you designed and made something, how did that idea come to you, was it helped by something you'd seen at some point. I think your stuff is great, you have a talent. If you design and make something, photography is a great way to document each step of the design, and this is your proof to protect yourself especially with a date showing. You can't give up, you are a pro, a lot will copy but apart from a few, the finished result will never be as good as yours. If it was me if I seen a similar copy I would get my one on my blog/website....with the {don't buy imitations buy the real thing}..did I steal that from the coke ad...Yep babbling now

annie said...

Wading in... I have never done any of your freebies, but can't count the times I have looked at and studied your designs. I am allergic to wool, so I don't hook, etc, therein is the reason why I haven't used your freebies.

I can say I have never liked my things copied, I like one of a kind things. I don't sell anything I create. I tried that a bit, and really disliked that a lot. I gave away most of the things I created, because the joy is in the completion of the craft for me, not in keeping it afterward.

I think from reading your blog, as much as creativity is your gift, and it is. I believe your gift is also generosity and benevolence.

Base your choices on both of those aspects, and it may give you more peace as you go forward with your vocation. Someone as blessed as you are is rarely found in today's markets. So look at yourself as a gift to others, it will inspire them to be sure, but it will also help fund you financially. Don't settle and sell yourself short, go for balance in both areas.

Christine said...

Dear Robin,
You are a dear, sweet giving person...I remember you as "Me and Myshelf Designs" . I have always enjoyed your take on folkart. You are a FOLK ARTIST and have your own special way of intrepreting a pumpkin, snowman, or doll. I have purchaesed a few of your designs, printed off a few of the freebies with hopes of getting them made. I am sure I would put my own special spin on them to make them my own, but thats what we all do . I DO hope you continue to do what you do so well, I truly love your designs. All the best for you!
Hugs, christine

Farm Girl said...

I wanted to just let you know how much I love your designs. Even though I have never commented before. My kids are always after me because I don't copyright my photographs of my sunflowers and I have had a few people ask to use them in paintings and things like that. I have always felt like the flowers were God's gift to me so I would feel funny like you have felt in the past when people take your designs. That wonderful lady, Peggy said it best, she errs on God's side. I have found in my own life to just let it be. I am sure by your giving spirit, the way you have blessed others, that God always sees and I am sure as you can never out give God He will continue to bless you with your designs. Just continue being who you are and remain true to your self and keep designing. Copyright if it helps calm your mind, but I think it helps to talk about it. I never knew that people stole designs like I have learned about now. I feel the same way when I do wood myself, did I see it somewhere? How can I know it is mine?
I have rattled on but your post really touched me a lot.

quiltsbycheri said...

i think your over thinking it, a pumpkin is a pumpkin but yours do and always will have your indivual touch...i've thought that there is a creative air that goes around and even though we are not copying, designers tend to be on the same wave lenght alot of the time, so we tend to all come out with similar ideas...and we tend to be inspired by the same trends....if giving freebies makes you feel good then do it, isn't that what our creative community is far as copying of your designs, i've looked at it as a compliment, a form of flattery, must have done it well and move on to the next idea...creating is obviously in your soul and if you don't share, sell or giveaway where will you put it all...
my feelings on the subject, cheri

Jennifer @ Stitchin' Thyme said...

I agree also that a pumpkin is a pumpkin but I cannot say I have ever seen anyone who designs like you. I recognize the patterns you have shown and know of some that are fairly new that look just like them. I have used many of your freebies and thank you for your generosity. I also agree maybe less freebies is a good thing. I have even seen big designers copy designs also, so much alike there is no disputing, from other designers. It is sad, sometimes it is not on purpose but for the times it is shame on them. You are an artist who has amazing talent, never be ashamed to stand up for your art!

appleberrycottage said...

Your post reminds me of another blogger/designer that was struggling with some of the same issues(Cathy from Cath's Pennies Designs). I think that those that will steal designs will always swipe them, and not give you credit. I say create/design if that's what you love to do. I enjoy looking at the doll patterns, but I don't sew them. I'm mainly punch needle and now rug hooking, so I would be more interested in the graphics, which are freebies. Maybe the graphics booklets would sell better if there more photos of all the graphics. You could put a watermark over the graphic so that it couldn't be copied without paying. Another idea is to include a freebie with a purchase, and to limit the freebies on the blog. I guess there's no right answer. But, I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your creations!

Roberta (Cottonwood Lane Primitives) said...

I think this happens in all areas of art. If you look back to the great painters, many founded schools where everyone learned the style, such as the Hudson River School or impressionists, etc. So I think people will follow the popular style and create what the market demands. There may be another design that looks like yours and may be derived from yours, but yours will be unique because, as you mentioned, people who are familiar with your work will be able to spot it. I agree with the others who say do what you love. Frankly, there's probably nothing legally that can be done when people steal your ideas and it would probably cause you more stress to confront them. I love your designs and will continue to purchase them, so I hope you continue to design! ~Roberta

susiedele said...

Robin...I can spot your doodles a mile away! Please don't lose any sleep over this or stop doing what you love to do. Yes, there are a lot of pumpkins out there but there's only one you. Big Hugs...Susie
ps. Buford Bunny was my favorite!

newburyarts said...

*****to put in a few thoughts:
1)at a certain level it is flattering to have someone interested in your design (s), BUT, the line is drawn when they make something for their own use or for
mass production. then it is no longer flattery!
2)would you advise any woman to just "let it go" and think that this is advancing the right of women everywhere to protect themselves?
3)confrontation isn't always pleasant but clearly you need a lawyer. find out what free legal services or perhaps a new attorney is out there and needs not only the work but the chance for representation of a cause. it's worth the search because again, YOU NEED A LAWYER!
4)don't ever be afraid to take a stand...the only thing you get from sitting on the fence is a
sore butt!

Take Joy.....Take Peace said...

Hi Robin,
I am a primitive rug hooker and just heard about your patterns in another blog. They are fantastic! If someone is copying your patterns and claiming as their own there really isn't anything you can do if you have not registered (copyrighted) each and every pattern. Doesn't matter if you have your original drawings with a date on it. There is so much of this stuff going on in the rug hooking world it isn't even funny. Like you said, a pumpkin is a pumpkin. But there are still "bad apples" in the barrel. One gal who designs patterns told me she copyrighted a couple but now just puts the copyright little circle on her patterns. It was too expensive to register each one! Talk about fraud! Hello? Now as soon as someone sees an antique rug (the copyright has ran out), instead of letting all of us draw it and enjoy an antique, someone quick draws it and gets it copyrighted once again. One lady did have a good idea. Take your original pattern and doodles (after you have made a copy for yourself) and put it in an envelope and mail it to yourself! Don't open it then, just file it away. You have a US Post marked date that no one can dispute! Isn't it sad that our world has come to this. I don't understand why someone would want to use someone else's pattern as their own. Take joy in your drawings and peace knowing you have lots of supporters cheering you on.

newburyarts said...

*****correction to a comment one can claim copyright
on antique rug designs. they are not "re-copyrighted" so please check the laws before putting this
misinformation out on the internet.
this is where a lot of problems start. thankyou.

Take Joy.....Take Peace said...

Oops! Maybe I didn't write that correctly. There are antique rugs in books and they are old enough the copyright has ran out. Whether or not it is being verified I don't know. Then a person draws the pattern, no visible changes but she does draw it the same size, etc. and then she registers it as a new pattern by her. They are NOT recopyrighting the original but to me they are "copying" someone else's original design.

Angie Berry said...

I don't rug hook or needle punch but I always enjoy looking at your fabulous designs and I marvel at your creativity! You received lots of excellent advice. Sad to say that there will always be those out there that like to ruin it for the rest of us that are in it just because we love it so. Please don't ever stop because your work comes from your heart and it most certainly shows in everything you share!

Rosemary said...

I hear you on the copy cats, its very frustrating. I used to do alot of my own samplers and sold alot of wholesale. Someone took two of my original ideas and sold them as their own to country house catalog. I was livid! I wrote to country house but i guess they didn't care. I also used to put original stuff on these folk art monthly websites and then next month would see patterns of my design put out. So i stopped designing :(