* * *the post below is purely my opinion. It's not meant to provoke or start any arguements. I just thought I'd share my point of view with you all since I was asked to do so. My intention is not offend or anger anyone-just to look at some different sides of the issue that I feel aren't being discussed. I am not speaking for anyone but myself here. I hope it doesn't sound too ranty.I will be back to regular, normal, happy blogging tomorrow .
So this is a post I really did not want to write.
It would be easiest to just shy away from the topic, keep posting photos and move on. You know, most of me would like to do that.
But this weekend I received an email from Jan of Poppytalk and she asked me to post about this issue (You can read Poppytalk's response here.).
(editied 5/31/11 at 3:15pm-hey guys. Just wanted to make it clear that this post is mine-a different side of the issue than what is discussed on the Poppytalk blog. These are my opinions regarding the events that transpired, not neccessarily a rebuttal to their post. Jan and Earl did not say they support or not support a boycott, it was general masses of people on twitter, facebook, blogs and the article I link to below speaks of boycott.)
So what is this all about? Well, by now if you read blogs or have a twitter account you’ve probably heard all the hullabaloo about Urban Outfitter’s stealing a design from this etsy maker.
On the surface- a boycott of Urban Outfitters seems like something I’d be willing to jump behind. First of all, I’ve shopped there only a handful of times and have mostly ended up with poorly made goods I felt I paid too much for. To me, shopping at a store that specializes in on trend merchandise seems pointless. I don’t have a lot of cash-but I’d rather spend it on quality goods that I know will last. Also, I’m pushing thirty and I feel like most of their goods are made for teenagers. So it wouldn’t be that hard for me to boycott them, I don’t really shop there anyway.
But you know, everything is not so simple, so black or white so right or wrong. What giant, big box store (JC Penny, Wal Mart, Target, Kohl’s, Gap, Forever 21, Payless Shoes, etc, etc) doesn’t take trends they see and use them to create products? Isn’t that the point of most of these stores? They see trends on runways/ from designers/ in street fashion and make super cheap versions for the general American public to consume…isn’t that what they do? I’m not saying it’s right, to the contrary-I’m just saying that I thought this was their business model. They knock off designs and have products made with cheap overseas labor and hawk it to the general public. I feel like most people don’t have a problem with shopping at places like this-they want a trendy piece for a bargain. And you know-that may not always be my personal point of view-but a huge majority of American consumers are ok with this model-and they have a right to their opinion. Do American consumers really not know by now that most of these stores steal designs and use a lot of sweat shop labor?
To me, it’s not really a shocker to see a giant corporation like Urban Outfitter’s selling goods that look similar to popular, trendy etsy items. But does it mean that a designer who made that necklace for Urban “Stole” it from Truche? I’m not entirely sure of it. I am sure that if I were Truche, I would be bummed when I saw the necklace at Urban.
I’ve had instances where I’ve seen blog readers/flickr friends take almost an *exact* copy of a photo I’ve taken and it makes my stomach burn…But I also know that there is something called collective consciousness and those photos I may see that look similar to mine are probably just because we like the same style and go to the same types of places. I’ve taken a photo only to notice later a contact of mine may have taken a similar one years ago. Did I steal it from them? No…maybe we just both like taking photos of coffee cups.
In fashion trends come and go. You’ll see the same type of striped tee at Gap, Urban, American Eagle, Forever 21 all at the same time. These things happen. So when I saw this regretsy post-it made a lot of sense to me. Personally, I don’t think that someone can “own” a state charm design with a heart in it. That is just the way that I see it. The design is very simple and I really do not believe that all these designers were stealing from one another.
If I were to buy one of these-I would love to buy it from Truche; she’s an awesome gal (she was one of my very first blog sponsors years ago). I think her necklaces are the best looking and I know she takes pride in what she makes.
Now there are cases where illustrators and artists have had their exact designs lifted and used for goods with several different big box retailers. Of course I am against blatant copyright infringement. I recently had a friend who went through this issue with Free People and you know what? Once Free People realized that one of their designers stole from my friend-they removed the design, apologized and made good with my friend. I gotta say, that’s pretty admirable.
You know, I won’t fully support an Urban Outfitter’s boycott because-believe it or not-to me, they do a lot of GOOD for “the handmade community”. They’ve bought artwork from several independent artists who started out on etsy (or are still there). Artists like Lisa Congdon, Ashley G, Leah Duncan, Laura Lombardi, Erica Weiner and many, many more. What does it mean for a small indie artist when Urban buys their work? I’m guessing a decent paycheck and a large amount of exposure nation wide. And I am thinking that that is pretty darn cool. I know what it’s like to quit your day job and try to sell your art to support yourself. It is really, really, REALLY tough sometimes. So I am SO glad for these artists that they were able to get deals and exposure through this national store. Does it mean that I need to go and buy stuff at Urban? No. But do I think it’s cool that some 18 year old who is decorating their dorm room can by a big piece of Leah Duncan’s art for an affordable price from Urban? Yeah, I think that is pretty dang neat. Do I think these are "token" artists the corporation uses to save face? No, I really and truly don't. If you believe that-that's fine. You have the right to believe that. Hopefully some of the people who buy these artisan goods will google the artist that made it and maybe find out for the first time about this hand made world so many of us bloggers are lucky enough to be a part of. Is that all bad? Not to me.
Do you see other stores doing this? Yes, I know that Urban’s sister company Anthropologie has bought goods made by Twigs & Honey, Forestbound, Paloma’s nest, Girls Can Tell and countless others. And I know in the past Anthro was accused of copying, too. So what to say to this? Only that once again, nothing is so right or so wrong, especially when it comes to big giant corporations and business. But as for me-I’m going to be happy that those stores have given friends and colleagues the chance to make some money and gain national exposure for their brands. I’m not going to buy goods from those stores that I think are knock offs (ahem to the Cody & Foster line Anthropologie carried during the holidays) or made in sweat shops. But I do think it’s great that I could go into those big box stores and buy handmade items and support friends and colleges.
Basically I believe the most important thing we can do as “consumers” is vote with our dollars. If you want to support hand made-go do it. You probably don’t need me to tell you to boycott Urban Outfitter’s-you probably don’t go there anyway. It is very easy to say “corporations are bad” and hand made artist are good” but there are corporations trying to do good and plenty of etsy sellers who just knock off designer goods, too. So, as we “vote with our dollars” we must realize that perhaps what’s “bad” is not all bad and what’s “good” is not always good. I believe the key is making informed decisions before jumping on a bandwagon.
So what am I saying with this whole mess? Do I believe that Urban Outfitter’s and Anthropologie have lifted design aspects from indie artists before? Yes. Do I think it’s right? No. Do I think that every other major retailer in the US does the same? Yes, I do. This is why I choose to shop almost always local, hand made or thrift when I can. I'll admit it, though-sometimes I just can't afford to do so.
Do I believe that Urban Outfitter’s and Anthropologie are all bad? No, I don’t. I’m happy that they have indeed supported many indie artists. Do I believe that all etsy artists have only original ideas and never copy one another? Not for one second.
So what do I think is a solution?
Once again I think as consumers it’s our responsibility to think and research before we buy and invest in products that we believe in no matter who is selling them. I find it constructive to point these things out, talk about them in a non-hateful manner and to also look at all sides of the issue. It's easy to point fingers and play the blame game-but we must also step above that and think of solutions for how we can survive in this modern world.
You may remember several weeks ago I posted a little sneak peek into Leah Duncan's studio. I promised I'd be back with more about her and some more shots to share...well here's that post finally :)
Leah is one of those artists that can easily inspire. After working in the graphic design business, Leah picked up and moved to Austin-then taught herself how to draw, how to sew and how to design patterns. Since 2008 she has been a force to reckon with; producing countless patterns, illustrations, paintings and prints. Not only does she produce beautiful things to hang on the walls but she makes tea towels, scarves, pillows, journals, t shirts produced by Target and hopefully many more things to come.
The ground floor of her home is her dedicated studio, filled to the brim with all of her creations. It was such a dream to be in it; photographing all the goodness. When I visited Leah was hard at work designing patterns for her Surtex booth (which looks great, right?).
Thanks for letting us look around, Leah!
(p.s. if you are bored and want a peek inside some other studios that I've photographed-check this out)
Hello friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I am happy to report that we had at grand time selling (and looking and trading and buying) at The Renegade Craft Fair this weekend. Sadly I only took a couple of film photos and actually left my camera at home on day two. I did take these shots with my camera phone-so I hope you'll enjoy these little sneak peeks into the fair. I'll be posting later this week with more favorites. The shot above is part of my own display.
Here's the WonderCraft.
This is part of Leah Duncan's gorgeous set up. I want all of those pillow cases and tea towels. How can you pick just one?
Loved this bright display by Little Things Studio.
Met the lovely lady behind the beautiful jewelry line, Coatt.
My pal Miss Natalie made an awesome pallet wall for her display.
I bought the cutest little penguin from the folks behind Mr. Sogs Handmade Creatures.
Was tempted to get one of these fun necklaces from Homako.
And was floored by the mini shop booth built by the team behind Paloma's Nest. Seriously, it was like walking into a little boutique. It was so lovely.
So these phone photos may look a little funny, huh? That's because I signed up for Instagram-an iphone app that allows you to share with others and use fun filters. I adore it!
All right, I hope you've enjoyed this fun recap of the fair. Today I'm loading my bigcartel shop with leftover prints from the sale and everything will be clearanced priced from later today until June 14. After that I'll be shutting down for a bit-I'm taking a break to visit family and celebrate a special wedding.
What a strangely bittersweet week this has been. I am so very happy to be in our new place. This neighborhood just feels right. It's safe and easily walkable, there are lots of families around...it's perfect for us. But this week I've also been prepping for Renegade Craft Fair (I hope you'll stop by and say "hi" if you can). My heart feels a little tinge of sadness-this will be my last show before the baby is born. And this may be my last show for awhile...dare I say ever? Who knows? That's the thing, I guess. It's the uncertainty of what's to come career wise for me. I feel so lucky to have built this little business but I cannot help but wonder how I'll manage it once the baby is here. Time will tell I suppose! I'm sure it will all end up great...just not sure what that will look like. I'm trying to leave it open and have no expectations for the future. Is that crazy? Maybe it's the most sane thing I've done...
Anyway, on with five senses friday!
For those of you who are new readers (or maybe never understood what I was blabbing about) five senses friday was started years ago by my friend, Shari Altman. I use it weekly as way to sit down and reflect on what the past days have been like for me. I would love for you to play along in the comments or on your own blog.
hundreds of my prints as I get ready for this weekend's show
ripe honeydew melon
felafel from a nearby deli
heavy rain from a thunderstorm
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(Sorry I cheated and just posted a photo mosaic of some of my favorite photos I've taken over the years. Scanner set up next week, promise!)
Thanks for all the kind words about our move. We're finishing up a few bits and pieces, but for the most part we are settled in our new place and we're loving it.
One thing pregnancy has taught me to do is to slow down. At times I feel as though I've been neglecting this blog a bit, but I'm sure you all understand. I realized about two weeks ago that I've been blogging for six years! (My original blog starting over at blogspot and was very, very "primitive".) Whoa...that's quite awhile. And for the past three years (until recently when I started adding some phone pics), this blog has featured mostly film photos. As the arrival of our baby approaches, I cannot help but wonder how this blog will grow and change. We shall see! So much has changed in these past six years and I have met some amazing people through this blog. I feel like a very lucky lady. So...here's to six more years? Thank you for all of the kind comments, support, orders, emails and friendship over these years.
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This week I am busy putting together new furniture, exploring neighborhood places but mostly preparing for the Austin Renegade Craft Fair. If you are nearby, it's a show featuring 200+ artisans. It's free to attend-come on by! I metioned this before, but it's my last in person show for quite some time. I'll have new cards, bookmarks and all prints will be on sale.
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Also, for any of you reading that live in the Pacific Northwest-Lynn of Satsuma press is curating a West Elm Pop Up shop in Portland. It will be held this weekend. Lots of great artists will be there including Pigeon Toe Ceramics and my pal, Cori Kindred.
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I hope you are all having a lovely Tuesday!
So next weekend, May 21+22 is a big one, I'll be participating in the Renegade Craft Fair here in Austin, Texas. Over 200 other artists will be there selling ceramics, fine art, hand made clothing, paper goods, jewelry and so much more. My table is very close to the entrance-booth 84. I will be splitting a space with Paper Pastries. It should be lots of fun. Come by and say hi!
It is free and open to the public from 11m-7pm both Saturday and Sunday. There will be bands playing, food for sale and crafts you can participate in, too. The artists are some of the best in Austin and many others visiting from around the country.
This is my last event before I have my baby (which happens in the begining of Septmenber if all goes well). I will have all of my prints, cards and bookmarks on sale. It'll be a maternity leave blow out, ha ha! It'll be a bit bittersweet, but I'm sure after my baby's a bit older I will get back into the swing of the shows.
This weekend was mostly about moving, but on Saturday morning I got to sneak away for just a bit.
I enjoyed a lovely breakfast with a friend at Eastside Cafe. Afterward we were able to roam the cafe's gardens and the neighborhood for just a bit.
The cafe does not "grow everything they serve, but serve everything that they grow". I quite like that motto. My waffles with fresh cream and strawberries were extraordinary.
I hope I can return.
Happy Wednesday, people.
Hello out there.
I took this photo recently at my new favorite coffee shop. It also happens to be a short walk away from our new place. I am so incredibly thankful about that. I feel alive again-I cannot describe how great it feels to be in a safe, bustling neighborhood.
Our move is going great, good-but slow. We have a three week period where we have both places. I am incredibly thankful for this-it means that I can paint some in the new place and put things away each day as we slowly move loads over. The new place is on the third floor (with no elevator-yes, we are dumb) so it's been helpful to have the extra time...especially with this giant baby belly of mine.
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That being said, I must get a move on with things. But here are some links I hope you'll enjoy today:
-The Canal House Cooks Lunch Blog has such delicious sounding ideas and gorgeous photos.
-Ginger and Lime Rooibos tea over ice-a fantastic caffeine free treat. I cannot get enough of it.
Hope you all have a wonderful day!