Art Theft AKA People Are Not Nice
I wrote these a decade ago.
There’s no protecting yourself in this international age of intellectual piracy unless you have money and time.
The thing that hurts most about that is when I tell people when I wrote these, the story behind them, and a song I wrote about them —- THEY DO NOT BELIEVE ME.
While you can see this happening on Pinterest at a monster scale so overwhelming many artist just don’t put themselves out there, the truth is, people who actually know you are just as bad. The T-shirt companies are the worst. You have to go after individuals that keep popping up like that Florida pest we all hate. You can’t stop them.
I did get offered a free shirt with my work on it once though.
True story: I worked as a librarian in a patent/copyright/trademark library AKA intellectual property. I once entertained the thought of going to law school to protect my own work and subsidize it with outside work.
I don’t even want to hear about it anymore. I don’t want to see it. As a Librarian, I constantly battle the illusion that if you found it on the internet it belongs to you.
But it happens at shows. This group of sports fishing men came through my booth once taking pics and discussing which things they were going to use. I’m like-hey-I’m right HERE. They laughed when I pointed out classic sayings vs mine.
It’a a struggle surviving in these conditions for any artist.
So, where I’ve landed is - I’m going to do the work. I am going to put the work out there. I’ve got my little universe is sayings and images I’m consistent and transparent with. I don’t look for things that will upset me. I keep my head down and hope it’s tenacity that wins the day.
People who copy your work just yell at you for pointing it out anyway. In my history in retail management, it’s what shoplifters do. That’s a dangerous and lonely moment when you’re stuck with that drama In a small space. The best way to stop shoplifting is acknowledgement, being visible, present, and often telling stories showing your investment in the store the thief sees as faceless.
And at the end of the day, there’s a danger in tying yourself to any one thing when you are so many things.
There’s a classic saying about eggs and baskets that applies here.