Wednesday, May 29, 2013

War and Peace on Planet Bead

99.9% of the time, Planet Bead is a wonderful place, filled with fabulous people and more beads than any of us can use in a lifetime. It's the perfect example of abundance; all I have to do is look at my beads and I know that this world has more than enough in it to satisfy me and everyone I know.

0.1% of the time, someone thinks their copyright has been violated, and Planet Bead is split wide open. I'm not talking about the obvious cases, where someone has posted a designer's own photo of her work on the Internet and is selling or trading the designer's work; that causes a ripple of frustration in the waters of Planet Bead, but is oddly unifying.

We come together over such thefts; we console each other and encourage each other to create more; we celebrate that we are the creative ones, and the thieves are not. We hope Karma will get them, sooner rather than later, and move on. That sort of theft is almost a rite of passage; it happens to nearly all of us, and we dry our tears and move on.

It's what happens when someone sees a photo of someone else's beading and thinks, "That looks a lot like my work," that has the power to open a rift on Planet Bead. Accusations can be made, feelings can get hurt, and, when this happens on a social media site, it can take on a life of its own very quickly. Perhaps you've seen the latest episode, perhaps you haven't. It's like pretty much every other one, so here's a generic rundown: two beaders fall in love with the same color palette, accent beads, and type of jewelry. They don't know each other, they're not even Facebook friends, and still they manage to create remarkably similar pieces of jewelry.

Up until this point, no damage has been done. If the concerned designer had investigated the other and discovered that this piece was a natural outgrowth of her previous work, perhaps she'd have realized that great minds do sometimes think alike, shrugged it off, and gone on. They might even become friends; they obviously share a fondness for the same beads. Synchronicity is common on Planet Bead; although there are a lot of different ways to put beads together, it's not an infinite universe. Several people often come up with the same idea and execute it independently of each other.

The damage comes when the designer leaps to the conclusion that the other stole her work, and makes public accusations without having any proof. The accuser's friends rally round, sad that their friend has been hurt, and repeat the accusations. They assume that their friend has proof; they are horrified that one designer would steal from another, and they naturally want to console the person they see as the victim and expose the one they see as a thief.

But what if the accusation has no merit? What if the accuser didn't investigate, didn't talk to the other designer, just assumed that she stole her idea and said so publicly, without any proof other than the synchronicity of an idea?

What if you woke up one morning and found the same false accusations on your Facebook wall?


Bead Queen said...

Fab write up Cynthia. This is so my outlook on it all.
What amazes me about people is they always think their the first person to design in that way. Hmmm what about 'freda bloggs' 30 or 60 or 80 yrs ago? Maybe they designed something very similar or used that pattern using the seed beads or pulses.

I am not stupid enough to not realize there has been many NEW beads since 80yrs ago, i am on about design and beading patterns. I am never naive enough to think that i am the very first to invent a stitch or pattern. I know it is a very sore subject to touch on, and i think it is time that some people stop being so damned up themselves and realize this.

Carol xxx

The bad Liz said...

This is the very reason that I am hesitant to purchase books written by artists that produce work in the same vein as I do. I do not want to be influenced by others work that I admire. FYI: Jean Campbell has the Hollywood jewelry book and I didn't purchase it for at least a year after it came out as I use old movies as inspiration. It turns out that our work is different, completely different approaches to the end product. But it could have been the same - and might have been if I had purchased the book earlier.

It's interesting to see what happens when the same palette is used by different persons. Always a challenge.

NEDbeads said...

I would be devastated; I think most designers who do their best to come up with their own work independently would feel the same way; inadvertent similar works are bound to happen, and sometimes even color ways. It's such a shame that we can't be more open. I sooooooo agree with Carol's last sentence, lol!!!!!!

Shirley Moore said...

Thankfully, I don't know anything about this situation. I've seen several dramas on FB lately, and while the situations are concerning, it is rather exhausting constantly reading about it, and having it flare up again and again. Very well written post, and I do hope this particular situation is resolved peacefully and in a mature manner.

JBop said...

I've said it often, in private and on FB, that to think that nobody in the 75,000 years that beading has been happening has ever done anything simular, is ridiculous. Yes, we have 'new' shaped beads, but they have found square beads and rice shaped beads in tombs, etc.

I agree with Carol. People need to get over themselves. Art is supposed to be enjoyed, loved, felt and cared for. Yes, we may need guidelines to try to protect ourselves but to say that you own something 100% in an artform that has been around thousands of's a bit ridiculous.

My very humble 10 cents.


KipperCat said...

Thank you for addressing this so well Cynthia. I can understand how a beginning beader would be ignorant about this issue. When we first tap into our creativity, it's a wondrous feeling. We see possibilities that no-one has shown us before.

But by the time we have some experience we realize that other people are also creative and full of wonderful ideas. For any designer over age 6 to accuse someone else in this way only makes the accuser look petty and mean.

Maybe it's a good thing I don't know the details of the current brouhaha.

Catherine Messina said...

Soon after I began beading I saw a bracelet in one of the Showcase 500 series that was almost identical to one that I'd made. It was freeform, so no pattern had been followed, it just sort of morhped itself along the way. I'd never seen another like it, never even heard of the designer, but it was uncanny that we both developed such a similar design. I don't know what the designer of the published piece would have thought if they ever saw mine, but I was flattered to think I came up with something so like that of a 'real' designer.