Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your Own Vision is Your Most Valuable Resource

I feel like I should tell you before we start that this post has been in the works for a few days and it turned out a lot less angry than I originally thought it would. Okay, go on...

I really enjoy sharing things with people. I like to talk about experiences and I think we will all learn quicker if we share what we know... but there are certain things I just don't feel okay about sharing. There are certain questions I don't want to answer.

Sometimes people ask me: 
Where do I get my materials from? How do I make certain pieces? What kind of ____ do I use? Where can ___ be bought? Can you tell me how you do this so I can do it too?

I don't want to share this with people. I share a lot of various tips for selling online and specifically on Etsy on my other blog. I share a lot of information about "making" and I feel good about that - I like to do that. I enjoy empowering other people to break down their own creative barriers. But I do not like it when people ask me questions about how to do "my thing." 

It's "my thing" for a very good reason: I do this kind of stuff, my way, with my sensibility, with all my knowledge and experience behind it. 

Sure go ahead and try to figure it out yourself, that's fine*, but don't ask me how to do it... what good is that to you?

You are probably thinking: "Danielle, you rant about people copying all the time, you are obviously NOT okay with it..."

That's true, I'm not okay with it... but it happens, and if people want to reverse engineer something they see, I guess they can, but I won't respect it, I won't look at it and think "wow what a brilliant, original work." And as much as I am absolutely irked by the idea that just because I put something online means anyone can take that and run with it - I do truly and honestly believe that no one will ever be able to do my thing with the precision, articulation, attention as I do. No one will ever be able to duplicate my thing my way.

I've always believed this. No one can have my personality, my experiences, my vision, my sense of color, my hand - those things belong to me. 

I've also always believed that ideas are like pennies in a piggy bank and you should be careful who you share things with.

But I really do get annoyed when people want to know specific things about my process.

There is a reason why only like, two people know the Coca Cola recipe. 

Trade secrets exist for a reason... 

Everyone has influences and outside inspiration - duh. It's impossible not to... but everyone has, in some capacity, their own creative vision. And everyone should take advantage of that - of their own creativity.

Take what you see, feel inspired, twist it around with your ideas and make something that is unique to you. 

I always welcome questions, but I prefer them to be questions about experiences or conversation starters... I like to help people, I really do, but I don't like to feel all weird in my stomach over questions that are followed by the claim that "I'll never sell your work, I just want to know how you make it." (Look, I wasn't born yesterday, and I'm sorry internet person who I have never spoken to before but, geez, my best friends don't even know half this stuff...)

So please, don't ask me about how I do my thing, ask me why I do it, or what I like about it, or where I make it, or what inspires me, but don't ask me the technical stuff... I can't transfer that over anyway, it's all just in me somewhere... or out there somewhere for anyone who can find it to buy it. Let's talk about real things, things that aren't about parts and labor.

When I win the handmade-grammy award for best original work on fabric, this will be part of my speech... after I thank mom and dad of course...
*raises handmade grammy trophy award, smiles widely
"You don't get to this point by being dishonest or deceitful. Your own vision is your most valuable resource and I thank the people who supported and nurtured that in me, and of course, the academy..."


Shenee said...

Agreed! On all accounts! It is so hard when the web world is a total free-for-all. Especially when the diy community is so focused on tips and tricks and I think you are doing the awesome thing by focusing on "creation and empowerment" and not on how the work is created. I am trying to do that too but people are always trying to get you to tell them how to do something step-by-step and we are expected to do it. Oh well.

Erin said...

Well put. :)

By the Book Paper said...

Very good rant! :) You are 100% correct and you shouldn't feel badly not wanting to let your formula out. People just want to know because your work is very, very cool. I'd say imitation is flattery, but I always hated that when someone would say that to me.

Erika said...

First, you are funny and a breath of fresh air. Love the honesty.

Second, I agree with this post. Are there other people that use hoops and thread for their work? Yes. But after a while the essence of a person's work tends to shine through and you are then able to recognize the work without reading the label. I feel that way about your wall art. I love embroidery--I like Aimee Ray and Watterrose--all three of you use the same medium but entirely unique and recognizable ways. Everyone ought to strive for that in their work.

Kristi said...

Brilliant, my dear! And well stated! We have every right to keep "our thing" OUR thing.

itsmemary said...

OH MY GOD I am going to post links to this post all over the internet!!! Someone emailed that exact line to me the other day, "I'll never sell your work, I just want to know how you make it." I am SO HAPPY I didn't give away my YEARS of learning how to do what I do to some random stranger. Thank you for making me feel 100% secure with that decision!

balanced. said...

Love this post!
very well said.

I got one of these inquiries just yesterday. I returned by asking them a question and never heard back from them.

craftedbylindy said...

Fantastic post! Now I want to know whatcha gonna wear when you win your handmade-grammy award? You're the best! This post is wonderful. Very well put! :)

Mayi Carles said...

This is brilliant speech making. No orchestra will ever cut you of with this one :)

The fact that we are a "do it yourself" community of loving hearts + hands doesn't mean it's OK to "copy it yourself" + "borrow it yourself" + "slightly alter it yourself", specially if it's for commercial use.

It is not cool to take designs + text + images or anything else for that matter from anywhere else on the internet + beyond. A wise friend once said "EVERYTHING belongs to SOMEONE + everything requires explicit permission before altering it or using it for your own benefit." And I agree! 

Danielle said...

im so happy to see support for this! its always nice to know that others can appreciate and agree with an idea like this. I think everyone has something they consider their own and its troubling when others try to make it theirs. stay positive and keep on doing your thing!

April Starr said...

Excellent points, and so well put.

Megan V said...

This is so spot on. It's so totally gross when someone asks details about work that we WORKED, basically our whole lives, to make!! All my education and experiences lead me to this point to make these things... um, no you can't pay $8 for this thing and expect me to give you the pattern so you can make it yourself. (yeah that happened). Shocking that people have balls like that - ISN'T IT!?
I'm glad we're in this together :)
xooxoxoxox meg

chelcie said...

Thank you for this post and everyone for all the comments! It's reassuring to hear others express frustrations I have had - but also usually feel guilty for having. I see genuine self expression as the ultimate goal of creative work - it can be fun to experiment with others styles or techniques as a learning exercise - but at the end of the day if I'm not doing my work in a way that is genuinely mine I feel dissatisfied. It seems there are people who don't have this internal regulation and they drive me craazay!! c: