This is not a blog post about anger, resentment or bitterness; I’m writing to create awareness about a problem that blights so many creatives in this challenging age of social media. When I started using resin and learning about my craft, the most important aspect to me was to be original. Originality is paramount in the artistic and creative world.
Unfortunately I have been notified by many of my followers on social media that my designs, concepts and even my own words have been plagiarised, and more disturbingly; by fellow business women and also fellow Irish designers. It's deeply disappointing to discover this. I have worked tirelessly to create a concept and aesthetic that is my own; that is original and unique to me and my life. I get many people saying I inspire them; and this, I believe, is a huge compliment which genuinely warms my heart.
However, there are those who feel the urge to replicate my designs exactly, and use my words to describe their product. I have never felt flattered by someone copying my work. I feel a heavy sense of disappointment. I would encourage a fellow artist to view my work and be inspired to do something new, to push the boundaries and experiment with fresh ideas; their own ideas. To be inspired does not give permission to copy. It is that simple.
As an artist I've always been influenced by the natural world around me, and by fellow artists. ‘Inspiring’ means to spark the creative light deep within us all; to inspire us to create something new and wonderful that will mark us out as different and unique. True creativity is born within the artists’ mind; it’s conjured up within the imagination and filters through the hands to create a tangible object. This object is the physical entity of the imagination. It contains a part of the creator; a part of their soul. It is created for people to love, cherish, interpret and wonder over. The process of artistic creation is a personal journey the artist ventures on, therefore when it is copied, it is a direct invasion of thoughts and original ideas.
How the blue cornflower eco resin pebble pendant is imagined, designed and created.
I created Lost Forest; a jewellery line with an eco friendly approach, encapsulating natural elements collected from my local surroundings. I established a narrative and concept behind this idea, with years of research, thought, and experimentation. A definitive feature of my work is the use of metal leaf in my designs. The metallic leaf is combined in a broken manner with natural elements such as botanicals or feathers. They are original design styles I conceived, and it is so deeply frustrating to see them poached by various shops recently.
I’ve also noticed my style of photography being widely adopted. I’m originally a photographer and it was important to me in the beginning of my business to create a unique visual aesthetic for my photography which enhances the narrative of my stores concept. Once again, to see it replicated over and over is very demoralising.
I also feel the need to address the medium that I use to create my jewellery. Eco resin is a wonderful material due to its low environmental impact, sustainable nature and superior characteristics over traditional petroleum based epoxies. I have spent years researching my material, even studying the chemical bonding of polymerisation. I believe it is so important to know your material, and I have a natural urge to learn its ins and outs. I find it strange that others are directly copy-and-pasting my description of eco resin, and wrongly applying it to their own product. There is a distinct lack of knowledge and understanding about this.
A particular misconception that is being perpetuated is that eco resin is naturally clear and bubble-free. I use the term 'crystal clear resin' because my eco resin is exceptionally transparent due to the fact that I use a degassing chamber. Eco resin, like any other resin, is not naturally clear once it is mixed. It will have bubbles within, as a result of the introduction of air when mixing. These bubbles can only be successfully removed using this advanced technique of degassing. I strive for a quality finish in every piece I make and it's important to me to make sure my technique and finish are of the highest quality. Therefore, my descriptions are only applicable to me and my products and should never be copied, especially in an unknowing manner.
The uniquely designed golden Lobelia pendant from its inception to its creation.
I've always had a love of words since I was young and I have a passion for writing. I try to inject some of that into my descriptions of my pieces and in my ‘about’ section. It is worrying to me to come across shops that have copied my own words, my materials description, my policies page, even my own about section. It is deceiving to the customer who trusts you to be a genuine artist with ethics and values. Not to mention, it is lazy. It is integral to be true to your craft, words and your customer.
I love to show snapshots of my process, my studio and my desk space on my social media pages to my wonderful followers to convey that I do make everything by hand. It also opens a window into my world as a creative. I am proud to be a craftsperson, and this explains my passion for highlighting these issues we all face in the creative world.
It is also worth bearing in mind, that this is my livelihood. Copying results in my integrity and ideas being compromised, and importantly, my income is also effected. Small businesses should be supported and encouraged to grow, rather than used as a honey-pot of ideas for potential plagiarists to dip their hands in to.
Copying is lazy, it's unethical and it will never mark one out as a master in their chosen field. Be original, be true, and create not copy.
I think to end this post, Billie Holiday can have the final words: 'Everyone's got to be different. You can't copy anybody and end up with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling'.
– Gillian x