Ever had that heart sinking feeling when you see something that looks a little too similar to something you’ve created or a concept you’ve worked hard to make your own? I know i have, and it feels horrible! I didn’t think it would bother me as much as it did… while others might tell you it’s a form of flattery, it’s really not.
One of the first times it happened to me it took me so much by surprise i literally had to go back and look at my original work and ask someone else that i wasn’t imaging it, That what i was feeling was real!
Let me tell you it is not flattering when someone takes a little TOO much inspiration from your work and it could be something relatively minor such as someone is taking on your aesthetic, vibe or business ideas a little too closely and it’s starting to feel a bit like your business is their creativity cheat sheet. Worse than this is the straight out NO NO’S such as copying (really lets call a spade, a spade and say infringing on your copyright) and pretty much stealing something you’ve created.
Also changing something by a certain percentage does not make it something new or YOUR design. If the design has recognisable key features or ideas from another persons designs you are still infringing on their copyright.
I have heard so many horror stories from so many businesses and i figured there must be something we can do to protect ourselves from businesses who don’t take the time and effort to create their own magic.
So i’m flipping this topic on it’s head and putting out there 5 really great tips for helping stop the copycats.
Showing the behind the scenes in your business is a great way to let customers into the journey of how you create and all the work that goes into the what you do. But i see so many businesses oversharing certain aspects of how they create particular things or unique offerings in their business. Your clients do not need to know the details of what paint, ink, programs, or the technical information of how you make or create your designs step by step. This is just a great way to give the competition a How-To guide to being you. So be savvy with what your sharing. Just like a magician, you want people to experience the magic but not the technicalities of the trick itself.
Are you being mindful of how your manifesting your inspiration. Just like we have to battle copycats you also need to be careful your not being guilty of being a little too “inspired by” your competing businesses too. I actually recommend if you don’t have a relationship with a competing business not to be following them. We consume so much content these days that sometimes what we don’t consciously see, but what we might believe is our true creation is actually something we have seen someone else create and weren’t even aware of it. It can also cloud true creativity if we are constantly absorbing what is “standard” within our business areas and it affects our confidence in branching out and creating something truely unique.
Mood Boards, baby! Most of my designs are rarely created solely by myself. They often are to fulfil a desire for a client of mine. I love asking the question “what would you love to achieve” and let the client tell me all their ideas and what they believe is possible with calligraphy. You’ll be surprised how often we have become so hemmed in to what we believe is limited within our own professions because we have a bias towards what is and isn’t possible. I now make it a rule not to come up with a concept for a client until they tell me their vision, i create a mood board of inspiration that often has nothing to do with actual calligraphy but just a feeling of what i want to create and the aesthetic feeling and then magically the idea will start to grow into something unique and completely me.
Collaborating with other artists. Another way to really put a stop to people easily copying your designs is have something custom made. I regularly work with invitation designers and graphic designers for this very reason. Both these industries would have to be up there with the most likely to fall victim to copycats regularly and this is because a lot of the designs in question are heavily font based, especially in the case of wedding invitations where couples love simple minimal designs that are font based. Having custom calligraphy designs or illustrations will truely make your designs one of a kind.
Create an authentic brand personality. One of the hardest things to replicate is an authentic voice and unique personality. A big mistake a lot of creatives make is only taking about their work. But talking about what inspires you, your true passions outside of your creative job and what is the real WHY behind your business. So even though someone might be able to copy your images, your ideas and even try replicate your passions, they will never be YOU. Its usually pretty obvious when someone is just trying something on to be on trend or replicate what someone else is doing rather than be authentic to themselves.
I hope this has been really helpful! I see so many articles about being copying but rarely do i actually see any actionable advise on how to prevent it from happening.
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