Friday, October 12, 2012

Inspiration Conundrums

Have you noticed everyone is at Sewing Summit this week?  I feel like I should have registered when I had the chance.  I'm missing out on everything!

Because Sewing Summit is such a large group of women I admire and look to for inspiration, I thought today I'd talk about said inspiration, and when does it become more than my own?  If you're anything like me, you read dozens of blogs about sewing, crafting, embroidery, quilting, whatever.  You follow the bloggers and creators on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest.  You buy their books and listen to their podcasts.  (Yes, I listen to modern quilting podcasts.)  I credit these women with the reason I stuck with sewing and took up quilting and embroidery, and for my current outlook on what I buy versus what I make.  Their creations are amazing!

The flip side to this is I get my ideas from these women.  When they blog about a pattern, I check it out.  I also buy their patterns and fabric.  I have pinned so many projects, most of which I reference when I'm looking for something new to make.  This is how I've always worked, but in the past, I mostly relied on magazines and books instead of blogs, because in the past, I wrote poetry and shopped a lot.  But regardless of my creative outlet, I've always looked to external influences to guide me along.  I'd love to be one of those women who is effortlessly creative and original, but I'm not, hair withstanding.

I learned as an art history student that art doesn't exist in a vacuum, so it's natural for bloggers and Flickr users and what have you to bounce ideas and projects off of each other.  We all understand that what we're doing is part of something bigger, not to sound completely pretentious.  Our quilts can be described as "modern," for example.  Modern quilting is a movement that wouldn't exist if only one person was doing it.  But I'm starting to wonder where their ideas start and mine begin.  If I use the same pattern and fabric as another blogger, is it truly my creation?  What if I embroider text on fabric like Merriweather Council--am I copying her?  It's my handwriting, on my fabric, spelling out the words I want--but is it too close for comfort?  What if I want to sell something?

This is such a sticky topic because we all want to get along and none of us wants to create a riff between perfectly nice bloggers.  But at the same time, I see projects everyday that I love and want in my home or closet.  Because these quilts and clothes are made for personal use, is it so terrible to copy them for myself?  And considering the quilt (and quilt designs) were invented long before blogs, if I'm not using a pattern, am I able to sell it if I want to?  I feel like I'm oversimplifying this, because it's a very gray area.  My friend Melissa and I discuss all the time the ethics of blogging and selling, and how we don't want to be "that person."  I'd rather get comments telling me I did a great job than comments saying someone is going to take legal action. And obviously I'm talking about this on a small scale, though we've all heard stories about Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters stealing designs from Etsy sellers to sell to the masses.

Where's the line, or is there one?  Can more than one person sell similar products without someone getting their panties in a twist (and in some cases, rightfully so)?  I'm asking a lot of questions because I don't have a definite answer, if there is one.  I think this is a very gray area of blogging, as we all take a risk when we put ourselves out there.  Sometimes that risk pays off--blogs have gotten people book deals, fabric lines, etc.--but there's always the chance someone will "copy and paste" your entire idea into their own internet space.  And if their followers don't know better, you're out of luck.

What's your take on this?  And why do I have heavy thoughts on Fridays?  For the love of God, I'm watching Say Yes to the Dress, I think I can take it down a notch!

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