I received some wonderful books over the holidays and it's high time I invest in a good book shelf. Part resource, part eye candy, my new books will keep me busy over the next few days. First up is Craft Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business. Though I've been doing letterpress and constructing a business in the last three years, the information in this book still gave me quite a bit of insight. The production, pricing plans and marketing strategy chapters were particularly helpful to me. A nice feature about the book are the interviews with notable artist such as Lotta Anderson (Lotta Jansdotter), Sharilyn Wright (Lovely Design) and Maria Vettese (port2port press).
I've recently come into conversations with other business owners and consumers of handmade crafts about copying. Among other insightful articles and blog posts on the subject, I came across this passage in Craft Inc.
When something is successful for someone else, it may be tempting to emulate that work or those techniques...imitating a pro is one way to learn certain techniques. But copying should be a stepping-stone in your developmental process, not an end product. In other words, copying should be a private exercise, not a business practice...challenge yourself to use a different set of contrasting techniques...your work should merely allude to that of other artists, not mimic it. Even though the less-than-design-literate public won't be able to differentiate the original and its appropriator, don't assume that your copying won't go unnoticed. The design and craft community is quite close-knit - word gets around fast.Copying isn't limited to products. It can be a trade dress issue where someone trespasses on your brand. The brand is an idea, not just the wordmark, logo, stationery, colours or packaging.
In addition to Ilasco's advice to those tempted into copying, she encourages the trailblazers:
...stay confident in your work and keep the creative wheels spinning...you'll always be ahead of the curve, while the people imitating you will always be steps behind.