Monday, June 21, 2010

Sometimes the answers aren't easy...

I actually wrote this post a few days ago, I struggled if I should share, but if I am being honest about my process, this is what I am going I thought I would share...

A few years ago I was in a Chapter's buying books with my then 8yr old daughter and I came across this book written for girls called something like...How To Be a Good Friend (very Ironic I can't remember the name right now)...but there was a passage that has stuck with me to this day. It stated something along the lines that sometimes as a good friend we have trust that our friend would never intentionally do anything to hurt us or make us mistrust them. HOW TRUE! I have, since that day, always looked at every time I was hurt by someone and thought...I am sure they didn't mean it...(at least until I can prove they did!)

With this in my heart ( and lot's of kindness and positivity) I want to address the issue of artistic integrity and ownership in the scrapbooking world.
This is such a crazy thing to think about because one half of this industry sells itself by stating that you don't have to have an original thought in your mind to scrapbook or use their product. Especially in the home based sales companies...or even with We teach classes to others by getting them to "copy" our ideas...we use words like "scraplift" and C.A.S.E. ( copy and steal everything)...magazines, books and whole Internet sites are geared towards ideas you can copy. So we copy things, we sometimes change them, sometimes not. I can't throw stones here, when I was beginning scrapbooking I copied things... it can be an amazing learning tool.

I think where we get into sticky situations is when we claim those ideas for our own, and when $$$ gets into the mix. I believe that no one can really own an idea, or a way of doing something...but you can own the end example of this...we can all learn to sing...but it's slightly less ethical to pass off Taylor Swift's new album as a garage band recording of yourself and selling millions of copies to your friend's for a profit. BTW: I sound just like Taylor Swift in the shower ;)

Saying that, it's really hard to know where this line is in our industry. In reality 95% of what I teach can be learned from a book or from the Internet..or my amazing community of fellow Scrapbooking artists...I try really hard to credit others when I use their ideas, when I have learned something from's hard not to want to share what we have learned with's our nature as women. I am struggling with wanting to re post or share everything I am learning in my Flying Lessons with everyone...but have to respect that Kelly Rae Roberts makes her income from her ability to put all of this info and heart into the course...and giving it away for free would be the same as stealing it from her.

When I sit down to design a class...something I am selling...I never start with other peoples ideas in front of me..I usually start with a pile of product...and my head is like a sponge it captures ideas, colours, and techniques like there is no tomorrow ( but not phone numbers) and I pull ideas and techniques from my "head library" as I create....being very careful to never copy anyone else....Saying that, there are little bits of things inspired by others...created entirely in the new, that I can see...every time I put a fringe of ribbon along the edge of something I know that a little of Amy's creativity has seeped in there...or when I spend 20 minutes fussy cutting out a swirl or flower from a pattern I know that Cindy would smile. We as artists are definitely influenced by those around us. I think that has been true since the dawn of time. When I see others copy and or recreate things from my classes I have taught them I feel very flattered. Yet when girls say to me, "Oh! I love your web sight! I copy the layouts from there all the time" a little part of  me is so sad for the designer who spent hours designing and writing instructions to only be stolen from and not get the credit or the financial reward. It's a hard situation in our industry that I have to smile and take it as the compliment it is meant to be...If I were to get upset that would seem very "unwomenly" of me and would be frowned upon.

So what to do...well when the little voice in the pit of your stomach says..this might not be the best probably isn't and your next course of action is to ask this OK? If you can't answer it for yourself, ask a friend or better yet, ask the artist. I know in my case I tend to be very open with my classes, and ideas, I just like the credit and the courtesy...I think we all do!


  1. I'm glad you decided to publish this post Christy, it might make people think just a little bit more before taking the next step to claim something that is not theirs.

  2. Christy,
    As a scrapbooker and a cake artist, I have to applaud you for writing this post. Everyone says "copying" is the sincerest form of flattery, I have a real hard time with that especially when credit is not given to the original owner. I too have two daughters who also struggle with this issue obviously in a different sense (other people and friends wanting what they have or doing it the same way) and I hope I am steering them in the right direction by telling them to be leaders not followers. Set your own path and if you have to, or want to, have something or do something someone else has or is doing then be respectful and ask if it is ok. Yes, I know this isn't always going to happen just like it doesn't happen when we scrap or when I make a cake but at least try. I love looking at others work but I too am careful about what I do with it. Hopefully your post makes other think about what they do when they scrap, I know I will......

  3. I was fortunate enough to attend an amazing crop event with an amazing instuctor. The classes were fantastic, and the make and take was adorable. The event was planned by the store owner... and the classes were planned by the instructor. The ambience, the decorations, prizes, food and drink were all the store owner. The instuctor provided the classes. The store owner came up with all of the marketing, went so far as to write the class descrpitions for the instuctor. The store owner marketed everything, including the name she gave the weekend. Imagine her surprise, when the instructor, who provided amazing classes, took the marketing, the class descriptions, and the event itself and is now using it as her own. Copying a layout, idea, or technique is one thing.... taking a whole weekend event and selling it to consumers as your own is a very different one. I am flattered when someone looks at a layout, or through my album, and scraplifts an idea. I totally understand it. I have done it myself (and often find what I initially started to scraplift ends up as something completely different anyway). I don't see the flattery in taking a whole and complete idea and using it as your own, with NO credit to the original source.
    I don't do well with drama. I don't have time for high school games anymore. But I admit that I wonder if this instructor was willing to take a whole event, pass it off as her own, and profit from it, how much of what she taught us was actually hers as well......

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  5. i don't know much about the topic, but you did a great job of explaining it. i do think and hope that mostly people don't mean to steal images, they just don't know how to properly go about it. but yes, i agree that mostly people are generous and sharing and mainly just want credit where credit is due.

  6. How does this work when you want to sell cards or publish something. Do you have to have permission from the creator of a stamp? Do you have pay them something. do you know? I have always wondered?.

  7. Most stamp companies have "Angel Policies" that allow you to use their images with a stipulation. Each company is different so I would check out their websites for what the policy is.

  8. Christy, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is great to be inspired by the work of others but if you are copying you should give them credit! We just did an Professional workshop at school about Digital citizenship and part of it was spent on who's work you are "stealing/using" even if it is just a picture on a website. Digital ediquet says that we should at the very least be asking permission to use it! As teachers we are now trying to teach this ediquet to students. We as adults need to model appropriate behaviors. Thanks for posting!