Discouraged and a little miffed

I have been having a myriad of thoughts of late particularly about my presence online – the fact that I spend waaaay too much time on the internet and in front of my computer etc… In response to my unhappiness about this I have found that I don’t log on as much as I once did. A good thing, believe me! Since the past week the SAMA conference has been happening in Chicago, I found myself getting onto certain sites just to check out some pictures of friends who attended. Looks like they had loads of fun and in many ways I feel bummed that I didn’t go! One word: AUSTIN!!! I’m putting it on my agenda and I will be there next year! 🙂

Anyway, being on the site I noticed some mosaics. Let’s just say it was a mosaic of a project I had described to a past student, right down to the materials used and the substrate is was adhered to! Now I probably wouldn’t feel as bummed as I do had I not gone over the whole issue of copyright in the class, but I did. And I do. Copyright aside, isn’t it just plain rude to take someone’s idea and make it your own?! I guess in reality the whole copyright thing doesn’t necessarily enter the equation as it was just an idea I had expressed and that had been milling around in my head for some time (though I guess intellectual property is an argument). But again, isn’t it just plain rude?!

Lesson learned (the hard way): keep personal projects to myself in future, regardless of who it is.

That kinda sux because generally speaking I am an open person. Trusting, for the most part. Naive too it seems. It brings me right back to  a lot of things about being online and how people share information, how people use it and indeed misuse it too.

Discouraging because I’m in this head space right now where I’m not enjoying certain people – unconscious human beings/parasites/{insert expletive here} ;). And they’re everywhere!

Blech! It will pass and it’s always a good lesson to learn. The nice thing is that I have been feeling that creative spirit creep back into my life. She’s been sorely missed and it’s a relief to see even a glimpse…



Filed under Copyright, Rant, Uncategorized

15 responses to “Discouraged and a little miffed

  1. Kim

    I just want to clarify that I don’t think this person is a bad person, nor that my feelings have been hurt. It was a momentary feeling of having the wind knocked out of my sails. But it was momentary and as Rebecca says there’s always more… and that’s the point: there is! 🙂
    I want to emphasise that this was a lesson learned for me: What I want out of my business, where I’m heading with it, why, how I go about doing and getting these things… etc. It is important to say that I am responsible here for my actions. I feel like “stolen” and “thievery” might be a little harsh in this instance and those are not my intentions. It’s more about how I choose to relate to people.
    I don’t want to be less open, and I don’t think I will be but I will be much more selective about what I say. I don’t think that is less open, it is (as Kelley so very eloquently points out) about balance, defining boundaries and then expressing those boundaries.
    I’m also not really against copying per se but I have, I suppose, conditions upon that. Copy things that are not protected by copyright, copy things out of books that are there for that purpose, credit the person that you are copying if you have to put it out there and always question why you feel the need to copy. To an extent I do think that some people learn from copying and frankly there can be a lot gained from it. Where I think that goes wrong is if people are taking it like it is their own and/or making money from it.
    I’m certainly guilty of having made a couple mosaics out of those how-to mosaic books when I first started and to an extent it’s arguable that I still do as I get alot of inspiration from symbology and patterns that have been around for thousands of years. However, for those two pieces I copied, I didn’t feel the same zing afterwards that I did from making something wholly my own. It did teach me how to fondle the tesserae though and at that early stage I think maybe that’s what I needed. I also sincerely hope that I have taken the inspiration I get from around the world and churned it out into something I can call my own…
    Great to think and talk about all this… It’s one of those chase-your-own-tail kinda topics, no?!

  2. Janet Althoff

    Good morning Kim….wonderful advice…and ditto ditto Kelly! This person obviously admires you and has not matured/grown to the point where she can create and come up with ideas for herself, therefore, copies the person she admires. It’s hard to accept her actions as a compliment, as what she did is really unacceptable. You are a very respected and talented mosaic artist, and teacher…glad you were able to vent and also teach her another valuable lesson!! It’s just not nice! Your name was brought up zillions of times and the girls were all missing you in Chicago. I hope to go to Austin also…and I have to meet you!!! Glad your creative juices are boiling once again…….XO

  3. Yes, Kelley DID hit hard and fast, and it’s exactly the very sound advice we all need! I’m very happy to know that you took action on this Kim. Yesterday I threw out a solicitor for the first time in my life, AFTER her very long song and dance and AFTER my trusting daughter had ordered three magazines from her, and as much as I dreaded doing it, taking the path of most resistance left me feeling so good about my ability to take a stand. We’re all reaching the age of “wisdom” and we need to start being a bit more vocal. And there’s no one wiser or sharing a bigger heart than you Kim. xx

  4. My feeling is that life is too short to let the actions of others eat you alive. It’s only natural for people to copy others that they admire. I used to get annoyed by this and my Mom told me to remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That doesn’t make it not annoying, but it can help you to understand motivations. I don’t think that anyone can do a mosaic exactly like you would. It would be unlikely for 2 people to have exactly the same tess on hand and everyone has their own little creative twist. Just remember, they thought your idea was terrific!

  5. Wow, you have gotten some unbelievable advice. Kelley really hit hard and fast and, you know, she’s absolutely right – If we choose to put it out there, there’s the risk it will be taken. I can imagine the hurt you feel, and I hope your letter makes this person feel like a total dog. I sincerely hope this experience will not jade you, just make you more cautious with whom you throw ideas! Missed meeting you in person next week!

  6. Kim, I’m sorry to hear this has happened. unfortunately, I have had a share of these happen to me as well. It is very common in the fashion industry. I have seen my work “knocked off”/copied quite a bit. I think it is important to remember that we are an endless (Yes! endless) source of ideas. New inspirations will come. Being open is important to fueling that kind of creative source, but being more selective about how much and where you disclose your ideas is also good. Keep on creating…you are brilliant!

  7. Well put, Debbie and Amber. Thanks Kim, for bringing this up. I’m learning through each new comment.

  8. Kimmers…I’m so sorry to hear that you are churning with this. It’s an awful feeling to feel used or cheated upon. I totally understand and have been there many times during my life: BTW, most of which I’ve called the person on it.
    It may not make a huge difference to them, but at least I feel that my openness and honesty have come full circle and they not only got my creativity, but they also got my response to their lack of creativity. I’ve also come across those who steal my curriculum ideas, teaching methods, art ideas/methods, etc. They can’t sustain what they didn’t create for themselves – so, it’s only a matter of time before their act is up.

    On the other side of the coin: I’ve also found artwork which was created BEFORE mine, which was hauntingly like my own — thus feeling like I copied someone’s ideas without even knowing about them. ugh. My first response is to contact them as to the uncanny similarities in our respective work. This way I know I’m being open and I hope they know I’m being sincere in my surprise to find work similar to mine. This actually happened to me this year, through FB. Strange. But, taking a direct idea and running with it…that’s not kismet or chance: That’s plainly and simply unethical.

    Kelley and ‘becca both have great takes on it…Lee Ann, too: My feeling is that there is very little out there that hasn’t been done. What uniqueness you come up with might spontaneously pop into another person’s head at a similar time. Fine. But, with that said, it’s a big difference when you lead someone (via conversation) to an idea and they run with your idea. That needs to be called on – and, like I said, treat them with the same open honesty you started with: call them on their theft and use of your idea.
    What they do with that “shame” is up to them. But, you’ll feel better that you completed the circle of honesty and that you did something on behalf of yourself.

    Sorry…I rattled on a bit, but this hits home with me, too. I’ve been the brunt of advantage being taken and it’s not a pleasant feeling. Stay strong, be creative!

  9. Debbie

    Kim, thank you for posting your open and honest thoughts. I too have had problems with this ‘open’ mindset and believing everyone is honest. I have learned to be aware of what I share and sometimes that means being quiet and not telling everything I know. I remind myself to ask more questions than give answers.

    I’m going to speak now from the professional standing. As a professional educator, I think our objective should be to guide our students to seek their level of success by showing them strategies of learning (in any subject). So to take this into the arts, it means, we share with our students a variety of methods, provide models (patterns and demonstrations) for the emerging learners, and lead them to resources. The rest is up to them to advance. It is really the biblical story of teaching them to fish. Consequences (such as yours)happens when we let our business relationships (teacher/student)become personal and ASSUME both people feel its on a personal level. When actually the other person is on the business level by taking information from you to create their own.

    Okay, maybe too much of an analysis but maybe it will help you settle things. I really agree with Rebecca, that someone can take one idea but continuing to advance on that is another thing. They haven’t learned to fish yet.

    Stand tall, you have nothing to be ashamed of; the other person has to answer for that.

  10. Kim

    Hi Everyone and thanks for chiming in. Kelley and Rebecca, you have given me a lot of food for thought. It’s been churning away all day and it’s some of the best advice I’ve received in a long time. Thank you!
    I really want to emphasise that I don’t necessarily want to make this an issue of copyright. I shouldn’t have put it in the post. I liken it more to inviting someone into your creative space for a friendly chat/cuppa/whatever and they leave with all your best china. Does that make sense? I know laws are there for good reason, but there’s just a general consensus (or so I think there should be) that you just don’t do the wrong thing by your fellow citizen.
    Yes, me and my ideals *sigh* 😉

  11. I am open to a fault and I often discuss ideas that are still in the cooker. I have been copied and borrowed from more times than I care to count. Kim, continue to be yourself. Just remember you have an unlimited well of creativity. People that try to take a drink from that well may siphon off a swallow or two, but they do not have something that runs as deep as your own personal creativity. Your well will never run dry my dear. And people that copy will never lead, you will always be 3 steps ahead.
    I can not wait to meet you in Austin Texas! I can no longer avoid the Sama conference, it is in my own backyard next year.

    • That’s a bummer Kim, and probably a good idea to talk to them about it. Unfortunately under Australian law as I understand it, you have no redress for someone ripping off an idea. The actual material work is copyright, the idea and techniques aren’t.

  12. It’s a hard way to learn that lesson, Kim, but it’s simply a fact of any biz: the only way to retain an idea through development to execution and copyright ownership is not to noise it about.

    This doesn’t conflict with being an open person…it’s about balance. Openness is an attitude of the heart, and you’ve got it in spades. It is possible – no, mandatory – to have an open attitude/heart and still protect yourself and your business.

    If you choose to give away all, then you also give away your right to complain when people take it from you. If that’s not your choice, then I’d recommend doing something about it; taking some direct action with this individual rather than this indirect commentary with others. Confront them in person or in writing. Remind them of the conversation you had with them about this idea and about copyright issues, and state clearly that you feel they have appropriated your idea. Tell them clearly what you want from them, whether it’s an apology, destruction of the piece, whatever. You might want to contact the other students in the class and find out if they remember you sharing this idea, and get corroborating statements to that effect. That might give you grounds for legal action, such as a cease-and-desist letter.

    Taking direct action – even if unsuccessful – respects your idea, your reputation, and your business. It’s also a further education to the perpetrator that there are consequences for violating copyright; her actions are not going unnoticed. And I’ll bet such action will go a long way to making you feel better. You go, girl!

    Sure missed you in Chicago last week.

  13. Cindiloo

    I totally get what you are saying about too much time one the internet. I gave up my internet service at home and am surprised at how much I can actually get done in one day! I am sorry about the rude thief…yes, thief…especially since you go over the whole copyright topic in your class!
    Looking forward to finally meeting you in Austin! And my favorite part of this post is: “The nice thing is that I have been feeling that creative spirit creep back into my life.”
    Because I sure LOVE your creative spirit and can’t wait to see what creeps out! 🙂

  14. Aw, I’m sorry Kim. I know what you mean about being an open and trusting person. I have thought a lot about that over the years, and fortunately I had resolved the issue (more or less) internally before coming to mosaics. I finally decided that I would rather occasionally be taken advantage of than to be the suspicious type. It works for me. Besides, that gives me the moral high ground, and I have no issue with making snarky comments to those who are rude (inconsiderate, lazy, thieving, etc) enough to impose on my creativity. They usually don’t expect you to be direct about it. It doesn’t help the current situation, but maybe it makes them think twice before doing it again. 🙂

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