Tuesday , 25 June 2019
Some handmade artisans are afraid of people copying their work and stealing their ideas, but I prefer to thank imitators in appreciation for the sincerest form of flattery: imitation.

Don’t Be Afraid of Copycats

Guest Article by: Jenny Hoople

Some handmade artisans are afraid of people copying their work and stealing their ideas (which is something that happens, I know!) but I prefer to thank imitators in appreciation for the sincerest form of flattery: imitation. There are a three main reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid of copycats and can freely share your techniques and inspiration with others. 1) No two true artists will produce exactly the same work. 2) You’re always coming up with new designs and ideas because creativity bubbles out of you! and 3) The more you give, the more you get!

No two true artists produce exactly the same work!

You may be thinking “Yeah, but you can’t just ignore that there are copy-cat crafters out there on Etsy.” And you’re right! But, that doesn’t mean we need to be afraid of them :D Which is why I say that no two TRUE artists will create exactly the same work even if they’re using the same materials and techniques. Take these examples:

I create (some of my) river rock jewelry with exactly the same stones as Rhonda of Stone Studios, because I buy them from her! And, yet, our jewelry is really different :)

AuthenticStone by Jenny Hoople on Etsy


StoneStudios by Rhonda on EtsyStoneStudios by Rhonda on Etsy

Also, take Jennifer of Quercus Designs and Romina of Miles Of Light. They both photograph collections of found nature objects, but their work is so different (and so awesome!)

Quercus Designs by Jennifer on EtsyQuercus Designs by Jennifer on Etsy


Miles of Light by Romina on EtsyMiles of Light by Romina on Etsy

When a person is a true copycat who is exactly copying your handmade designs and even using your own pictures to sell them (terrible, but I’ve seen it happen!) then you should go ahead and rat them out, but don’t live in fear of them in the meantime! Why not? Let me tell you!

You’re a creative soul!

As a creative soul, you’re constantly coming up with new designs and ideas, they just bubble right out of you because you can’t help it. You encourage the flow of creativity because when your work is constantly fresh and new, your customers get excited and buy more! Now this creativity that comes naturally to you is what means you don’t have to be afraid of copycat artisans. The people who are true copycats will never be able to come up with new ideas on their own. They have no creativity or else they wouldn’t be stealing designs and pictures, they’d come up with their own! You, on the other hand, are filled with creative energy, so you’ll always be ahead of the curve. You define the curve!

You need to empty your cup in order to fill it!

It’s a universal truth that the more open and giving you are, the more will come back to you in unexpected ways. That’s why I tell everyone who wants to know (and even people who don’t!) how to drill their own beach stones. That’s also why I freely share my source for the naturally colorful, pre-drilled stones that I use in some of my river rock jewelry. That’s why I love helping other people set up Etsy shops and start selling their own work. Not because I expect something in return for these favors, but because I feel free and open and happier when I give them, and because I’ve found that it’s really true that the more you let go of grasping, the more is given to you. (And I don’t just mean that in a philosophical way, I really have found that the more I let go, the more tangible, real-life rewards come back to me!)

I hope this little article has set your mind at ease from worrying about copycat artisans. I bet some of you will disagree with me, and I’d love to chat with you about it down in the comments! (Heck, we can chat in the comments if you agree, too!) In any case, many warm and fuzzy hugs of creativity to all of you! We make amazing art and the world’s a better place for it!!



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  1. Seriously Tim?!? You put this in the best perspective ever! reading this was so something I needed. Definitely sharing tomorrow, because I know a lot of fellow artisans that feel the same way! Thank you sososo much!

  2. Thanks for this important perspective. I agree! Creativity is to be shared.

  3. Spot on, well-written article! I absolutely love this perspective; you’re talking my language. Keep creating and all the best <3

  4. I couldn’t agree more!!

    Thank you for expressing this perspective so eloquently – i will be sharing this blog post! :)

  5. Thanks for affirming what I wanted to believe. It’s easy to get discouraged. It can also sap your energy if you focus on it too much.

  6. Thanks for your perspective on this issue. An etsy shop owner copied my design just a few days ago, and I chose to do nothing but fave her work. I realized that focusing too much on the issue would do nothing but drain me. Also, she doesn’t hurt anyone except herself by being a copycat.

  7. Wonderful article, I could not agree more.

  8. I have always looked at someone using my ideas as the biggest form of flattery! Other artist friends have always though I was crazy, but your article explains it perfectly. It keeps your mind fresh, gets you out of a rut. Creating something new and improved is what we do!

  9. Love this!! The “copy” comparisons are perfect! It’s true every artist puts their own touch I have 3 friends that are also silversmiths, we can create the same design and all three look different. Because I live in a remote area I had to learn my craft on my own. I watched youtube videos (with slow satelite internet – ugh), read mags and books. If it wasn’t for others willing to share their art I wouldn’t be a silversmith today. :)

  10. I always believed that the more we can learn from another the better off we’ll all be, including sharing ideas, thoughts, and dreams.

  11. Being a true artist is all about being inspired, and being inspiring. I have had many run-ins with photo theft being a tutu designer on etsy, and although this is disappointing, I have learned to take it in stride. Inspiring other designers in my field is actually an honor in contrast though. I have watched many of my designs spread accross etsy in various forms. To think this is due to my talents! And my hard work! Amazing! You are 100% right Timothy, a true artist cannot stop creating, and will always produce original pieces. It’s something to take pride in.

  12. This is a great article. I just read a discussion recently on one of my Etsy teams, about this very issue. One crafter was in turmoil, because she had seen a similar item that she makes at a craft show and wondered if she should contact her lawyer, etc, etc…. I will post this info on the discussion. No two true artist produce exactly the same work…( I copied that from above :–)

  13. How refreshing!! Thank you for this post!

  14. So thrilled you spook up and said what I have always felt. elizabeth

  15. One of the beading mags does a bead challenge where 3 people are given the exact same beads & ask to create something. They can also use some of their own beads. It’s always amazing to see how diverse the results are.Couldn’t it just be like in TV & movies that more than 1 person has the same idea?

  16. I feel exactly the same way. I have no problem telling other jewelry makers where I buy supplies, places they can get tutorials to learn the basic stitches, and offer all of the marketing tips and tricks I have figured out, usually via blog posts. When we all help each other out in a friendly, supportive manner, we all benefit exponentially.

  17. Hey :D Thanks for featuring my article, Handmadeology!! And a big thanks and hug to all of you who’ve commented :)

  18. I just love this positive attitude. Thanks, Jenny!

  19. Great piece! The right attitude is definitely the determining factor for success.

    This world is becoming more and more open, which means that it’s time for a new method of operation. Gone are the days of trying to protect your “intellectual property” by copyrighting, patenting, not letting the public see your work, etc.

    It’s time to open up and share all you have with the world! And in fact, with technology and social media (you’re right)… the more you share, the more you get back. More people will see what you’ve created, you’ll get more fans, your name will be spread far and wide…

  20. I hate when people copy my ideas, but then – there is nothing new under the sun.This being said, I always claim that if someone copies an idea of mine, it will not help to take it to heart therefore I should invent something new!

  21. Love all the points you made you hit the nail in the head.
    Thank you!

  22. I enjoyed the article and I love sharing with other artisans I love it when you find that you have the same idea but the execution is soooo different. I don’t like people though who try to copy exactly everything you do, but I love artisans that can take an idea and make it evolve and grow that is what creating is all about.

  23. Perfectly said…Thank you

  24. Thank you.. Thank you.. Thank you!!!! Really needed that :D

  25. Just keep creating, I know I will have more idea’s with my artwork. It’s all about how you put it together. . . Everyone has a different aesthetic. Loved this article, thanks so much.

    Sharon Orella

  26. fabulous article! thank you for sharing.

  27. Hmmm, I wonder why our society has laws against this and so many companies try to stop piracy of copyrights, movies, music, patents, processes, photos, art, intellectual property, etc. and sue for big $$$money over this subject???

    I tend to think “honor” should be emphasized here and that it’s wrong to encourage what amounts to “the theft” of another persons creativity that was, in many cases, inspired by their heart and soul. Teaching respect and communicating the social norms to each other should be foremost in a tight knit community like ours and should always be the standard we sensitively encouraging. Sharing should always be an option not a given…

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