Let’s Start an Honest Conversation

creativitycopycatsandchristiansI have had this weighing on my heart for a few weeks now and feel compelled to (hopefully!) start an open dialogue in the world of Christian creative businesses.

Over the last year I have been overwhelmed as I look at instagram pictures and see such similar things from one designer to another. I saw it happen to a few friends specifically and it hurt my heart to see blatant copying in an industry that I believe is held to a higher standard.

And the crazy thing is, nothing is being said or done. We’ve blanketed this topic with “Jesus answers” like:

1. You should trust God to provide for you.
2. We should turn the other cheek.
3. If their product is glorifying God, why wouldn’t we be happy to see God’s message spread?
4. It’s God’s ideas anyway.

I believe there is truth in this, but we’ve allowed these things to justify a lack of integrity in business.

I have felt my own struggles with this, but in reality, it is small potatoes compared to what some other designers are going through. When talking with one of these friends recently they asked how we should respond. I had never thought about actually making a positive change and her asking that question had me thinking that it doesn’t have to stay this way.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I took this to heart and started working through what I’m about to share in my own life. I hope it will help someone else out there and maybe change our industry for the better.

HOW TO RESPOND TO COPYCATS

1. Find the balance between denying your feelings and having a pity party. Your heart will hurt. To a sea of people who have never had an idea stolen or who do not make a living from that idea, it will seem like no big deal and even flattery. (Whoever came up with that quote had to be talking about copying an outfit and not a business ; ) this can make us a little defensive (it sure has me) and either pout and whine or just shutup altogether. Truth: All things are important to The Lord. Nothing is too small to bring to him. And at the same time don’t let it become an idol or focus. This is tough but so important that we don’t spiral into pride and hypocriticism.

2. Don’t let your feelings change how you respond to the offender. Just because you have been hurt doesn’t mean you need to destroy the other person’s reputation in the eyes of others. This hurts your own integrity and kind of defeats the purpose. The greatest way you can glorify God is showing love even when it feels undeserved.

3. Pray for them. Not in a sad, condescending “they need Jesus way.” Those motives aren’t pure at all and just keep us in a judgy place. Instead, pray the Lord will bless them. This has the power to change our hearts, which in most of these situations, is the only thing we have the power to change.

4. Separate yourself from the offender. Unfollow them on Instagram if you were following them. And even people who post about them. Meditate on this verse.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

HOW TO RESPOND TO YOUR OWN WORK 

1. Pray for an open heart and teachable spirit. It’s definitely going to be needed.

2. Ask yourself if you have been guilty of copying. And answer honestly. I’ll be the first to say, when I felt the sting of a copycat prayer journal, I quickly thought “have I done this to someone? Because it stinks.” Seriously Val. Think hard. It’s vitally important for us to “get the plank of out our own eye” and not be hypocritical. If I’m being totally honest, the answer is yes I have. My heart hopes that this post will inspired people to be honest about their work, so to get that started, I’ll share one way I realized I have copied: In the past when I was doing custom designs, I would recreate designs of pictures brides sent me for less expensive. I told myself it was ok because we’d change something on it so it wasn’t exactly the same and I wanted my brides to get great designs no matter the budget. I’m embarrassed to even admit that because it shows how little I respected those original designs.

3. Define the line between copying and being inspired. Reading the quote below from Jason Fried a while back TOTALLY helped me to avoid any gray areas. Most of the time, copying is not intentional so this is a great way to put aside objective rationalizations we can make for our work and make it subjective. Literally, how much time did I put in? Was more than half the design done for me?  Did you start with someone else’s design as a template and just make changes?

“How do you know if your copying someone? If someone else is doing the bulk of the work, you’re copying. Be influenced, but don’t steal.”  – Jason Fried

3. Seek to glorify God through your creativity. Jason puts things pretty bluntly, but it’s true all the same. Copying off someone else means you are likely ignoring something amazing God has in store for you and wants you specifically to be a part of. This circles back to the idea that they are all God’s ideas. It’s true. The prayer journals were something God put on my heart. I don’t take credit for it. What idea has God put on your heart that the world NEEDS and would be sad to miss out on?

“If you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in the passive position. You never lead; you always follow. You give birth to something that’s already behind the times – just a knockoff, an inferior version of the original. That’s no way to live.”  – Jason Fried

4. Look for inspiration outside your industry. My first few wedding collections were inspired by other invitations. This year and last, I looked more to fashion, art, interior design and branding and was able to create designs I was truly proud of and felt comfortable to show the world knowing they didn’t look like someone else’s work. It’s still a challenge though because I LOVE looking at pretty paper, but I do strive to look more outside my industry than more in it because I know it will protect me from even subconsciously copying other people’s designs.

I’ll be honest, I am so scared to this post this. I know some of you may still feel it’s not Christian to address this or maybe see this as a source of pride for my work. Or that I think I have this all figured out. To answer that, I don’t. I’m just trying to figure it out too. This is not my battle against a prayer journal copycat. This is my challenge for us all to simply live up to our potential.

There are days I want to chunk my phone across the room when I see one post with this quote on a print and two seconds later another using similar fonts, colors, merchants, props. Some is innocent coincidence, but some is not and my heart has the hardest time understanding how we as Christian women can have so little respect for other people’s work.

My hopes are that we can restore a sense of support, encouragement and safety to share creative ideas without keeping up a wall of defenses around an idea because we’re afraid our Christian sisters will take the idea (down to specific details) all in the name of “God laid it on my heart.” Let’s stand on the creativity God gave us even when He does lay on our heart to create another “fill-in-the-blank.” If He really did inspire us, He’ll also give us creativity to make it completely unique and not a copycat.

I’d love to start the conversation. Leave a comment below on how you think we can bring a positive change to our industry. I’ll pick a winner next Friday to receive this “Be True” T-shirt from Lindsay Letters (and a prayer journal of course!!) This gal is the real deal. The creativity she has brought to hand-lettering and how she is glorifying God through it is why you see her work on our prayer journal covers.

LindsayLetters_NewBeTrue_1024x1024

  • Praying for you! I’ve had friends that were accused of copying and they weren’t. I can only imagine how much it hurts to see something you put hard work into be stolen

    • Yes!! So true! That’s why we can’t change our actions, point them out publicly or be ugly because that possibility is alway there.

  • I’m not in your business, but I’m a consumer and gifter of this industry. I commend you for wrestling with this publicly and gracefully – it inspires me to apply the same principles in my own work and it makes me all the more loyal to your brand. I pray you feel encouraged. I pray blessing over your business. I pray for peace and integrity in your industry.

  • Thanks for being brave and posting this! This is a huge issue for all creatives – but probably addressed the least in the Christian creative community. This was a well thought out reminder for all of us. We have been given gifts to glorify God and represent him to the world. Putting our best and our original ideas forward allows us as a body to represent Christ and build each other up – instead of tearing each other down by stealing.

    • Right. I wonder what amazing things are waiting for us when we tap into God’s creativity for us instead of just designing what’s already out there. It definitely challenged me too that I’m not done with just prayer journals and to allow God to keep using me.

  • To bring positive change you need to be a positive encourager of that change. Does that make sense? I think the points you made are good. Pray for them, don’t have a pity party for yourself, think about your response, and separate from them. Besides praying for them your response to the copying is very important. Their response to being “called out” for copying, if you choose to do that, will be based on how you approach them. Do it privately and kindly. Don’t call them out on social media, their defenses will go up and the situation will get out of control with lots of people watching. I have seen it time and time again!

    • SO true!! I’ve already decided for my little circumstance I would not mention any names because that seriously makes ME look bad. And I love that. I’m going to be thinking of ways to be a positive encourager. I think part of that for me has been buying products from people I know are keeping their head down and doing their own thing.

  • Oh how I hear what you are saying..,praying for your heart and knowing that The Lord blessed you with these amazing talents.

  • I really love this post and you! Revelation speaks that we overcome by the power of the blood and by the word of our testimony – and I believe that those who have participated in any form of copying will be pricked by your ability and courage to admit your own past guilt. I hope that if I ever were to be guilty of the same (which I probably have, if I think about it a bit), that I would see these words and be pricked in my spirit and be encouraged, as well. I believe a great step forward in improving the organics of the creative industry is instead of thinking of copying another’s work in some way, perhaps reach out and share that you have been so inspired by their work and if you both can collaborate on something in the future. They may say no due to several reasons, but then you can move forth and do some heavy brainstorming on how you can use the inspiration to create something totally original that may impact someone the same way the originator’s work impacted you.

    Again, thanks Val for always being so transparent and taking the time out to create honest and inspiring content (because that’s hard!). Have a blessed day! XOXO

    • Thank you Lacoya!! You are so sweet!! And I think that is such a good idea about collaborating!! I’m going to have to remember that!!

  • I love that you have started this conversation, because I have seen this topic come up before, but the people have stated it perhaps with merit, other times perhaps not. I am a creative person by nature but have not sold anything yet (although I have an etsy account for a few years! 😉 ), but I will admit this is something that worries me. But I love the advice you give here. And I love the shirt you are giving away, because it seems like if we stick to the principle of being true, we will start to become better about creating new art, things, etc., and isn’t that the loveliest idea? Thanks for starting the conversation!

    • Yes Barb!! When I saw Lindsay post that shirt this morning, I knew I had to do a giveaway for it!! So much truth in so few words.

  • I have been battling this for over two years now. I am so glad you are facing the problem head on & shedding some light on the topic. It’s something I still struggle to understand but all I can do is “keep on, keeping on.” And I pray a lot. I ask for prayers from my prayer warriors, a lot. But if I was being honest, it is still SO difficult. I have found that all I can do is keep being myself & doing the things I love. If I get too consumed with how wronged I am, it not only takes away from me being my creative self, but limits my abilities to love & focus on all of the good as well. Then the enemy wins all the way around.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I know I appreciated the topic being brought out into the open!

    • Thanks Wendy!! It’s such a process isn’t it? And a reminder how much we need God daily because you are right, we can totally be consumed with it, if we let it!

  • I think you have voiced your concerns with grace and care. While I understand there is blatant copying, I think there is also room for everyone to pull their own creative , individual self to the table. Thank you for your honesty. I’m an actor, not a creative designer, but I think copycats usually don’t last. I also think on an industry where there is a lot of similar product (like journals, paper, etc.) there’s going to be overlap of ideas where people don’t know one another. I don’t say that to be argumentative at all, it was just on my heart. I also think the cream rises to the top, so to speak. Consumers know a copycat when they see one, and I think (and hope) they have the integrity to choose wisely. Blessings to you–your work is always so inspiring!!

    • Thanks Sarah!! You make some great points! It’s so true, two people can design similar products without ever seeing the other and that happens plenty and I believe is fine and am not really addressing that. It’s been so sad to see several friends, have work copied by people who have bought their products or seen them through social media. It’s a slap in the face when they say they didn’t copy even though they have seen it or even owned it. But you are right, similar products are created all the time without either party knowing about the other. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad to have this open dialogue on such a sticky topic!

  • What a timely message for me! I’m so scared to launch my most meaningful project yet for this very reason. I’ve stressed on how I can copyright or somehow trademark to ensure all my hard work & what I want to build a brand on will not be stolen. It is my passion & purpose & I do pray God will provide…Hopefully I won’t need your post again 🙂 but thank you for sharing your thoughts & bringing up for discussion. I have a custom photo book design business, but I wanted to reach more people to document all of their blessings and wanted to start a baby book…in my own struggle to find any out there that I like.

    • Jen! It can be scary!! Definitely put it out there. I have seen people be bested by other products just weeks before they hoped to launch. Your story will help carry your product and people will fall for YOU and then buy your products. Best of luck! I can’t wait to hear more about this!!

  • I so get it! Very well said, especially as you tried not to be vain or bitter about this whole idea. I always feel the pressure to create more (can lead to a sense of copying, even if it doesn’t appear so much in your final product) and lower prices. But I sure love to create one of a kind designs more than anything – and love to see them! Just a question, though. Do you not respond to the copier? Kindly, but clearly? Even if just to question them and their intent? So many crafters are apparently completely unclear what copying is and what inspiration is…. Perhaps if they got some feedback on what they are doing they would see it more clearly, perhaps not. But seems it would be worth it for everyone’s sake involved, even the copier. If you were to contact them, how would you do it and what issues would you address? I think you have a unique perspective on this issue and would love to hear your ideas!

    • This is so tough!! I several of my friends situations, they are still praying about how to respond because the ramifications are pretty big. For me personally, I had mentioned my frustrations a few weeks back and this person I was struggling with contacted me. I was very honest with her about why I was hurt saying the toughest part was that she did not see it as copying. There was no real resolution. In your situation, it may be worth an email if 1. You know they have seen your work. 2. If you can word it carefully, gracefully and not condemning. I was caught off guard by the email and responded probably too hastily. My words were all true and honest but I probably could have worded it better. Just know that even if you talk to them, you may not get the closure or resolution you are looking for. In regards to legal action as some of my friends have mentioned, this is definitely something to pray about. For me personally, I am less worried about the damage it will do to my sales, and more just hurt that someone could copy so blatantly and not see it. I hope this helps. I am so not an expert but happy to share my opinion.

  • When I saw your post on Instagram talking about this blog post, I was like “Wow! She so went there!” & headed straight over to read your blog. JUST this morning I saw a product on Instagram that is clearly a lot like another product & it’s done by a totally different person. My heart ached for the one who was copied. I am a photographer. I’ve seen copying (in a different type of way) in my industry SO much & each time it’s hurting someone. I love when you said, “Copying off someone else means you are likely ignoring something amazing God has in store for you and wants you specifically to be a part of.” That’s SO true! Let’s daily strive to be original & to implement the ideas the Lord has given us! Let’s dig into the talents & gifts the Lord has given each of us!

    And may I go deeper & be a little harsh & say, I think that we need to challenge Christian business’s & ask them “Is the reason you’re making this product because you’ve been lead to it or because you know you’ll make money from it?” It may cause an ouch but it may be a reality check too.

    PS The Influence Network’s recent podcast spoke briefly about this subject!

    • Haha!! Naomi, I was sooo scared to go there but I really didn’t want to keep ignoring the topic. I love that challenge. I think it’s true. I have thought about this as people have suggested to me to do different products (that others are doing well around me!) and I keep checking myself and comparing it to how I felt about the journals and it’s just not worth it for me because my heart isn’t in it. I love this reminder and will keep it as a gauge for new product ideas thrown my way.

  • This is such a tough issue in our industry. I get so frustrated when I see blatant copying, especially through Instagram. I struggle because I’m so afraid I’m going to unknowingly copy off another designer. I hope to keep my eyes focused on my purpose and do the things that truly bring joy to me and that are my style. One thing that is helping me lately has just been to turn away from Instagram and find inspiration in my own surroundings.

    • Megan! Your heart to WANT to create your own thing is beautiful. Similar designs can happen without us knowing. It’s the knowledge and blatant disregard that is so tough to witness. Love you!!

  • Val, this is so what I needed to read this morning. I’ve been dealing with an issue in this department and it’s really built up so much anger in my heart lately. I’m thankful you shared this… I think everything you said was spot on and written so so beautifully.

    • Thank you Ashleigh!! I totally spent a good week with a lot of anger in my heart and I’m pretty sure Vivi could feel it and even acted differently because of it. Working through all this is definitely helping rid my heart of the anger!

  • This so spoke to my heart today. This past weekend I spent with so many amazing girls celebrating a wedding. I found myself this week trying to buy their clothes and look like them because I wanted to be them. It was exhausting, expensive, and just left me trailing them anyway! I want to be the best version of me and no one else.

    • Jessica! I love the different perspective or insight you got from this post. Every word you said is soo true!!

  • Love this.
    Thank you for bringing honest.
    I feel that sometimes I can cross the line over from inspiration when thinking of blog topics. As a photographer Pinterest is wonderful but when clients say they want an image that looks just like THIS I get a little disappointed. I know that I have my own visions and I don’t want to copy any one else. Also no one ever looks like the images they’ve fallen in love with.
    I’m so glad that you’re so honest about these things. It’s so refreshing to read this. Love your heart!!!

  • I am not a “creative” just a purchaser from those who are 🙂 but I see quite a lot of this going on, and it seems to be getting more pervasive. From my perch, I would love to see (especially) Christian women commend each other on their designs and the influence that they may have contributed to what they’re doing. Tag people, encourage others to follow them, point back to where an idea came from. I think that if we lift one another up and praise the work, there is so much more power than trying to act like something’s an original idea that isn’t.

  • Very thought provoking post. I am not in your industry but am always looking for ways to differeniate my reports from other peoples, only to have the formats copied – I try to look at it as a positive but sometimes it just hurts

  • My heart truly aches for you in this area. I know what it’s like to feel God put a passion in your heart for something that can not only challenge and push you in ways you never imagined, but also challenge others to draw closer to Christ. And then, to see that work that you poured your heart and soul into, and took literal leaps of faith to create, copied, is just devastating.

    I agree with your suggestions about just giving them distance and maybe unfollowing them on Instagram/Facebook and not calling them out personally, but I would also just do your best not to lose heart or feel like you should just give up on designing more beautiful and intentional products. I personally love seeing your inspiring posts and products and through those mediums I have realized several areas lacking in my spiritual walk just by the products you create (prayer journal being the biggie!).

    Your products are an inspiration and a wonderful way to encourage others. I personally plan to buy several of your journals as Christmas presents for friends and I just want to encourage you that your products do matter. Your talent is noticed and appreciated. Your faith is evident. And I am truly thankful that there are Christians like you in this industry.

    I feel like you are truly living out the verses in 1 Peter 3: 8-9, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

    My prayer is that because of the way you are handling this situation, you will inherit your blessing. You are fighting the good fight, and I know you will finish the race, and finish it well.

  • Thank you so much for writing about this. I think we’ve all experienced this in all sorts of ways, both as the “copier” and the “copy-ee”, whether inadvertent or not. I took a little “vacation” from my crafting biz to re-evaluate why I was in this and honestly, to just open my ears, heart, and eyes to where God is leading me. When I allowed the “noise” of everything around me to lead my steps, the whole crafting thing wasn’t fun for me anymore and didn’t have any meaning. Now, I find myself praying as I create, sometimes not even realizing that I’m doing that. I pray for those in the biz, their successes, their failures, those seeking inspiration, those maintaining their inspiration–everyone has their own story and I pray it’s the story they are longing to create. It helps me stay focused on whom I want to please (Colossians 3:23 is important for me). =)

  • Even if it’s not down right copying….I still feel like I see the same stuff over and over again! I do feel badly though for artists who legitimately get their work stolen. I’m not an artist so I can’t relate but I feel like you’re christian take on dealing with it is superb! Glad I found your blog!

    Danica

  • Copying and copycats can bring very undesirable emotions to all of us on both sides. I recently discovered one of my embroidery designs being used as an art print. To say it was devastating was an understatement, but instead of reacting right away, I took time to pray about it (which can I add is always a good remedy). In this case, I decided to not address the situation and whether that was the right or wrong decision, I just know for me, I can’t have that weighing on my heart. The other person doesn’t seem very established so I can only pray they evolve into their brand and see the wrong in what they did.

    This can be such a tricky thing to write about, and you did it very gracefully. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you for posting this! I am a new Christian woman entrepreneur and am just getting into this industry. I haven’t experienced this yet but I will keep this advice in mind in case I do and will also be mindful to not do it to others. Thank you for the wonderful insight!

  • Such a refreshing post! It can be a real struggle to decide what is truly the best course to go when you’ve poured your heart, soul, time and money into a new design or idea just to have it ripped off by someone else. Sometimes it can feel like a real gut shot, especially if they have a larger audience than you. I completely agree, publicly bashing them is not the way to go. For me, I’ve realized that I needed to direct the focus on how I could change my mindset when things like this happen. Rather than seeing red and allowing it to stifle my creativity, over time I’ve been able to let it propel me further into reaching my creative potential. If it happens, it will probably happen more than once and you can’t let it consume you. Just remember…copycats are always going to be a step behind and they will keep you creative and fresh.

  • As creatives, it’s so hard to put your heart and soul out there and then have someone so easily take an idea and claim it as their own. As Christians I do believe we have a duty to rise above situations and handle them with grace, but on the other hand I don’t think silence is the answer either. New shops pop up every day wanting a piece of the pie and I wish they could see they are not only devaluing the industry but themselves as well. I love how you said, “Copying off someone else means you are likely ignoring something amazing God has in store for you and wants you specifically to be a part of.” That’s so true. Thanks for sharing your heart. I know this had to be hard to put out there. I’ve had a few of my art prints knocked off more times than I can count and I know how much that hurt and it was just a simple typography print. I can only imagine how deep the cut is with something of this nature but I think you’re handling it with grace and strength. I think it’s great to ask questions and start conversation.

  • Thank you for sharing this heartfelt post Valerie! It’s always comforting to hear other designer’s approach and thoughts on the copying subject. I especially LOVE #3 🙂

    -Evelyn

  • Wow! Such a great post. Way to be brave and post this, sister. Sometimes the Lord’s love is turning the other cheek, and sometimes it’s graciously calling others to a higher standard of integrity and respect. Well done!

  • Val,

    This hits so close to home. I have been struggling with this so much and it was just what I needed. Thank you so much for this post. It is so hard not to be hurt-it stings, it stinks, and it’s hard not to lash back. Such truth in this.

    Love ya friend and am so proud of you. Farm Girl will always carry Val Marie Prayer Journals. <3

  • It must be such a let down to see an exact copy of your work. But no one can replicate you as a person. No one can replicate your touch or the spirit you put into anything you design. Your true customers will know this and will be outraged as well and of course will become even MORE loyal to your brand. 🙂 It’s helpful for me to remember Ecclesiastes – that there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything is a copy of something, somewhere (in a broad general term) – what makes it special is *you*. And YOU are beautifully and wonderfully made. <3

  • I’m not sure if you remember me, but I had started following you under my biz acct (Bling Diva Designs) years ago and have kind of left the chat for pursuing my blog. ANYWAYS, I saw Whitney English’s regram of your post and came here to read. While there’s a ton of wedding cake toppers out there, I had one of the first (well, the first) huge product that had a lot of visibility with a national bakery using the products. A bit of time passed and someone shared with me another biz owner who was doing the same thing. I can instantly be brought back to the awful sick feeling I felt. I had the pity party, got mad, and tried so hard to figure out the best way to solve it. Funny enough praying wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. First I was HOW DARE SHE! then others backing me up online ready to pounce.

    I’m grateful for supportive husband to help refocus me and remind me of always maintaining my true self. One that is to help others, and not bash. To be a good Christian, and not a gossiper, name caller, reputation wrecker. That person still does side-by-side comparisons of “our works” and it really angers me. But you’re right, you have to let go, pray, and unfollow them. Because the only person it truly hurts is us. We need to change in order to affect others and how things go.

    Thank you for this post!

  • I commend you for speaking up about this boldly! I’m not in the industry but as a consumer and follower of many creative brands I certainly see how products often carry striking similarities. I pray that you and other industry members can persevere with integrity!!

  • Words cannot express from one designer to another how much I appreciate your boldness with this post. I am sharing it with our community because WE all need this. Thank you for your honesty and holding us to a standard that brings glory to the Lord. Love you friend and I am so thankful more than ever that you are a part of our #prayersforthedreamer project. Lindsey wrote her prayer on just this! xoxo

    • Me too!! I was just telling someone, prayer journals are not my thing people!! I’m happy to support other prayer journals or products that have a new approach and I’m so excited about yours!!

  • First off, great blog post. There is much sincerity, kindness, thoughtfulness and faith evoked on this topic. As a graphic designer graduate and new business owner in wedding stationery, I am learning from the industry and peers including you. Design is so easy to manipulate and copy nowadays since people have access to software like it’s no big deal which loses its respect at times. But I believe what sets a product apart is the brand. I came across your site this year and it was my first time seeing prayer journals. As a Catholic who believes in God, I thought it was a brilliant idea to encourage faith in yourself and others. It crossed my mind if there were other prayer journals out there but I’ve just never seen them. There probably is. So much ideas have been recycled and reinvented. I don’t think there’s a thing as “original” anymore as it’s probably been done before in other countries etc. but put in another form of artistry and style.

    But ONE thing is for sure, people and friends who love you and your style, will buy prayers journals from YOU. It’s your brand, your personality, what you bring in behind the prayer journals that will keep and continue loyalty to those who admire you. That includes me. I’ve never bought a prayer journal before but if I did, I would love it to come from you. Not because I saw it from you first, but I admire the person behind the creativity and brand. I hope one day my business can be successful as yours with just as much faith and heart in it.
    God bless you Valerie. 🙂

  • Man. My heart needed this and has needed it for some time. I follow you on instagram because I love your journals but have never read your blog. Something told me to click over today and I am so grateful I did. I have felt in my heart for a while now that god is preparing me to use my creativity in a different way. Looking around I see so many people doing the same things and have observed so much of the copying each other, which has created such a battle for me because it is holding me back from what God wants of me and it is really not OK. You spoke this so truthfully and genuinely. The way i find to handled things is similar to how you said to pray for them and not in a condescending way. Someone taught me once to earnestly pray for one person ypu dont want to pray for everyday for one week, each week. It has shaped my heart and changed me in many ways. Thanks for being brave!

  • Thank you so much for putting this out there. I really, really love this, and I’m so glad I read it today! You are one of a kind. 🙂

  • This is WONDERFUL! I absolutely love it. Recently I have had many different people try to steal my logo, and I’ve been trying to work through the process of responding/giving grace to them. It is honestly so difficult, but I am so thankful that you addressed this issue from a Christian standpoint. Thanks for your advice throughout this process! Blessings to you!

  • My heart truly aches for you in this area. I know what it’s like to feel God put a passion in your heart for something that can not only challenge and push you in ways you never imagined, but also challenge others to draw closer to Christ. And then, to see that work that you poured your heart and soul into, and took literal leaps of faith to create, copied, is just devastating.

    I agree with your suggestions about just giving them distance and maybe unfollowing them on Instagram/Facebook and not calling them out personally, but I would also just do your best not to lose heart or feel like you should just give up on designing more beautiful and intentional products. I personally love seeing your inspiring posts and products and through those mediums I have realized several areas lacking in my spiritual walk just by the products you create (prayer journal being the biggie!).

    Your products are an inspiration and a wonderful way to encourage others. I personally plan to buy several of your journals as Christmas presents for friends and I just want to encourage you that your products do matter. Your talent is noticed and appreciated. Your faith is evident. And I am truly thankful that there are Christians like you in this industry.

    I feel like you are truly living out the verses in 1 Peter 3: 8-9, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

    My prayer is that because of the way you are handling this situation, you will inherit your blessing. You are fighting the good fight, and I know you will finish the race, and finish it well.

    • Thank you Kristina!! It has definitely inspired me to be more intentional and tap into God’s creativity. I should have included it in the post but I think being distracted by copycats can also hinder us from creativity for God. Trying not to fall into this trap either!

  • Love this post! Don’t be afraid of shedding light in an important subject. In the age of social media it’s to easy to copy, even unconsciously.

    On the other hand it’s frustrating when I’ve been doing something a certain way for years…then someone else publishes it first. It was both our ideas, but now I’ll look like a copycat if I go with something that was truly original to me. There really is nothing new under the sun.

    Handling it with grace and professionalism should be our trademark.

  • WOW!! This is so powerful I have been hurt by copycats I’ve cried, I’ve been angry, Ive done the opposite of praying for them in a way that would be beneficial to them and to myself as well as to God! This has really opened my eyes to see that we can all unintentionally copy someone and use the excuse of being inspired by them or the Lord has brought this idea to me and I’ll just twist it in my own way to make it my design and I’ll be guilt free. Thank you! Really thank you for posting this and sharing your inspirational words on how we can make a change. I agree this is just being left in the dark and nobody is taking the initiative to make a change. I think the more people that are aware of their intentions will make the difference. Instead of thinking the worst of people, simply pray for them, because we as Christian women should be giving others the benefit of the doubt. When were praying for them we find God doing at work in our own hearts and being grace filled as he displays his grace to us. Also when looking for inspiration I agree that looking outside of our market will really benefit ourselves to create unique pieces that we can truly call our own work!

    • I love what you said about not thinking the worst of people. I think this is an opportunity for us all to look at ourselves and I hope it doesn’t inspire people to point fingers but to instead do their best work!

  • I don’t have a shop, but I do have a small business doing a few parties a year. I feel like I’ve had ideas pop in my head before and I’ve googled just to see if it’s been done and it has. What to do? What to do? Thank you for being so transparent.

    • I wouldn’t shy away from the idea. I think the best thing is the create it and maybe then do the google search. I’m betting you won’t find the exact same thing if you are able to create without the influence of others. There are tons of prayers journals and will no doubt be tons more but what we do with that without leaning on others specifics is what makes it so unique.

  • This is an amazing post. It’s so incredibly easy to search for something on Pinterest, fall in love with it and create it for yourself (or sell it again at a cheaper price). But we have to remember that we’re also selling ourselves short and selling our clients short of our heart and soul. It isn’t worth it. Turning off social media and being on our own and following God’s path will lead us wherever we need to go, a path that Pinterest and Instagram and everything else could never take us.

    Thank you for confronting this! I definitely needed reminded of this.

    Another good strategy might be looking at designs you see the night before, and creating the next morning. You remember what you FELT and not always what you saw, so you put your heart into it.

  • Thankful for your honesty and admitting that maybe you were once a little too inspired by someone else’s work. Because I’ve unfortunately fallen under that too. But since then, my own work has been copied and I’ve realized the weight and hurt that comes along with it. So for me the answer has been specifically to unfollow those who have very similar styles to mine just to avoid the little DIY in me. 😉 ALSO, there is probably a different time or place for this, but I REALLY want to be your friend!!! I live in New Orleans (which I think is close to you?) and have a baby (well, she’ll be 2 soon) girl too! I think we’d make pretty good friends. 🙂 xoxo

  • So powerful. I work in the opposite of any creative industry (public accounting), but I notice this all the time. It seems everything that hits my instagram feed is just like the picture before it. I can’t imagine how it must feel, but I think getting everyone talking about it biblically is a great step. Thank you for being brave and sharing!

  • Great post. I remember an idea of mine being copied whilst studying fashion. It so hurt my heart. People inspire me all the time but you have to keep checking yourself. God is the fountain of creativity and we so need to seek Him when being creative.

  • Val, you write so beautifully! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog lately, and I especially love this post. One of the girls at Gather this past weekend said “Put on your blinders, and Just Do YOU!”… this has stuck with me this week. I’m sorry to hear about your copycat situation – it’s not a fun place to be.
    Thanks you for sharing your heart today!
    xoxo – heather

  • Hi Valerie! I’ve been following your work on Instagram and through EL’s Playbook and I was hoping to hear about how you were doing after posts a couple weeks ago. As a creative and as a new business owner I have been striving to find my own place in the industry and I constantly step back from my work and make sure that I am creating something that is needed and different. Before, I always looked online for my inspiration, but I found that I wasn’t finding my own style and worse, I couldn’t put in words what my style was! Your post resonated with me because yes, if I look back there are times I wasn’t completely being true to myself. Like you, I have been trying to purposefully take a step back and find inspiration elsewhere. Logging offline and looking in my life. I am constantly checking myself to make sure I am creating something that is me and not someone else. I love the quotes that you wrote above, and I’m going to keep them close to me. I think it’s easy for clients to say “I could do that…” and that hurts. They have no idea that time, effort, love that goes into our products. We should be encouraging each other, loving each other and being inspired by each other. But not bringing each other down by copying and angering each other.

    I’m thinking about you and praying for you! Thank you for writing this post. For all of us creatives!!

  • This is an awesome article!!! And I appreciate and applaud your boldness on posting this. Although touchy, this is something that the creative industry needs to be reminded of. As a creative professional myself, it can be difficult to stay positive when you worked so hard and in minutes someone can talk that away, but that what makes me create harder. Awesome read again!!!

  • Thank you for always being so open and honest with your posts. It is so awesome to see how you deal with frustrations and struggles in a REAL way but always relying on The Lord. I am not in your industry but I can totally understand how the struggle to create something of your own is real. I think one of my favorite suggestions you gave was to consider how much time/effort you put into the work and how much of it is your own.

  • Val, thank you for being so brave. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you to EVERYONE who has chimed in! I truly believe that a conversation about this “taboo” topic can make it easier for us to work through in the future!

  • YES YES YES a milllllllion times yes! You have no idea how much I needed this! It’s so vital, especially in today’s time and age, that we quit being around the bush about things hindering us! I’ve gone and am still encountering little problems like this, but it can seem so hard to turn your cheek, when simply, that’s the benefit for us. I’ve learned that you have to realize — someone copying you and/or your business simply isn’t your issue, it’s theirs. If your work is original, real, raw, and YOU..people eventually notice these things. All the while remembering Ecclesiastes 1:9 (What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.) We have to remember not to let it get so much to us, that we allow ourselves to become cold to the fact that all art should be inspired by others and a reflection of our hearts. Therefor, if you become SO bitter – your work becomes bitter as well. Soft, forgiving, and understanding points of view will further ourselves in many more ways than our creations – but more in the eyes of our creator!

  • Thank you for taking the time to tackle such a sensitive issue. I think especially in the Christian world people expect other Christians to be honest and are cautious to question their motives. Often it comes out of a place of “grace” but then are we doing eachother a disservice as you’ve so beautifully said. As an artist I’ve always been supersensitive to copying because I want to protect the integrity of design. I think we need to expect more out of eachother and set the presidence to stay inspired but honor the fellow artist as well. I will definitely be sharing your post. Thanks again for sharing.

  • WOW…Such an honest and bold post! I was immediately drawn to the “copycat” title because I am sure we have all been there in one way or another. I am in the floral design industry and I must admit that there is a difference between being a “copycat” and being “inspired”. I have one too many times seen my designs copied among my fellow colleagues in my industry. It is surprising to see people who are supposed to be “creatives”, really lack it. It really stood out to me when you compared that to an outfit and a business. SO true! Our creativity ultimately earns our living and sets us apart from others. I was just thinking about this the other day. Social media has really saturated my industry with inspiration and everything is starting to look the SAME. It is quite disappointing to see the lack of creativity in such a broad industry that can truly be unique. Your tips are dead on. I challenge myself by trying to reinvent myself and my inspiration through other creative avenues. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Such an important topic to discuss! As a designer, I try not to let others work influence mine to the point of copying, but it’s hard sometimes to find that balance of inspiration. I just go back to 1 Peter 4:8 – “Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins.”

  • I very much enjoyed reading your blog post. I had a spell of your struggle as well with creating something that someone fancied on Pinterest. As a creative we get these requests from clients and I get so focused on making them happy and the pay check instead of remembering that the creating is why I went into a creative field. I also see others that get into this “make-a-sell” trade where they find something that is popular and mock it cheaper.

    I felt like my head was clouded with so much visual stimulation that I removed social media out of my life for 2 years! Some might think that was drastic, or freelance suicide! But honestly I don’t think I would have made it any further without it! I have reflected on who I am as a person and a creative. Deciding to get back onto social media was a huge deal. Would I fall into that over-sitmulated eye candy again? Would I become the Creative+Copycat?

    What kept me strong on my faith and my business is Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do work heartily as for the lord and not for man…”

    That truly hit home with me! I am a maker because God created me to be a maker. He has designed an artistic path for me! Every client and every job is a blank canvas. It is equally a struggle as it is exciting! But if I keep my feet planted into giving God all I got, then I know that he will in return bless me with the perfect case scenario! One that I would have never got to on my own.

    I am still learning this! And it is so encouraging to see the honesty in your post! ^_^

  • Thank you so much for this post!!!! Your words and wisdom was so needed. I am glad you pointed out that people who are copying are not opening themselves up for the amazing things God has planned for them. It really hit home and is something I will be using in conversation. Thank you for being bold and going for it!
    Xo

  • I think you addressed this topic beautifully! I’ve been thinking about this a lot since you posted about it on Instagram recently. My husband and I often talk about how important it is to have integrity in the way we operate our Etsy shop. We’ve only been open a short time & some days it is hard. It’s hard to say no when people ask me to make a sign with a trademarked logo/phrase, etc. But I do say no (& obviously explain why), because even when my competitors are profiting off infringing on trademarks, I know that staying true to what I know in my heart to be right is more important. God will take care of our finances if we continue to stay the path & look to Him to guide our lives.

  • I’m not in the Christian business or creative circles, but I do buy from some of the businesses. I have noticed that EL’s planner looks a lot like WE’s. Am I allowed to say that here?:) But looking at the covers, it is clear to see that WE’s are much prettier and attractive. I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this publicly.

    I remember reading a biography on Martha Stewart and the author claimed that Martha stole ideas from many creative, young women. They weren’t even employed by her, they just naively “helped” her in the beginning.

    I think some people cloak themselves in the Christian theme, hoping that makes them appear pure and wholesome, which makes any questions about their integrity be redirected to the questioner, as if doubting them is a sin in itself.

  • A very important conversation. I pray it encourages and lifts others up in their creativity and creation of inspired goods. Thank you for elevating the conversation. Blessings to you!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. Being in the “creative industry” is hard enough without copying. I feel that it is important to address the issue and to be more aware, but there is no need to “police” the issue and call out every copycat because in the end the Lord will take care of it all.
    I think you addressed the topic perfectly. Thanks again!

  • I commend you for bringing this issue to the forefront! I often have this tug-of-war of sorts in my head dealing with my successful Etsy store and website.

    I might have a slightly different spin-
    Unlike many creative types, I like to take the pragmatical look at my business adventure by running numbers, doing hours of research, scrutinizing my competition first, then bring my creative side to the best “business” place. I find the line between finding design inspiration and meeting the demands of overall popularity are fine. Very fine, and often dictate trends. The popularity of my items often follow the trend of the season. My designs from 2 years ago are not selling and the customer is looking for the latest and greatest. I must grow to continue selling.

    This industry is ever evolving and trying to keep up with demand. The biggest demand is dictated by the customer. This is where I personally have the tug-of-war. I do not sit on the side line and say “oh shucks, she had that idea first-I am out.” That is not realistic.
    I am not out, that is an amazing idea and I am in love with it! I want to give it my spin and see if I can sell the sh!# out of it because it is so great!! Why didn’t I think of it? I didn’t, don’t claim to-and it does not make me less of a designer/business owner/human for giving that person some competition. I am pretty sure that blue Ikat porcelain tray I see in C-Wonder was something that has been replicated a million times over in the form of an original design. It is almost the nature of our industry. Take a great idea/design and run with it!

    Keep it in perspective. You had the original idea and everyone else will always be striving for that unreachable goal. Own your idea, be proud, honored, and happy you had that window in which you were the only one to sell it. I don’t see it as copying an idea. Every single product we own has some sort of competition and sometimes, a variation of a product ends up making that product even better. If you think about it, there is so much competition out there for EVERYTHING! Fashion, cars, even toilet paper. They all sell the exact same thing-sightly tweaked. That IS exactly how we shop everyday. Which journal do you like better? The one with a bookmark or without? With pre-printed quotes or without?

    It is up to you to take your product & business to the next level. Improve on it, add new products, tweak and adjust it to your market, and keep it on top- The place your original idea will always be!

    Chin-up and spend your time planning how to take YOUR product to the next level before someone else does. Cheers to inventing a successful product & your continued success!!!
    xoxoxox, Madilyn SC

  • i think it’s great that you started this discussion. Potentially some who once copied will be enlightened too. I believe most people, especially those with the life of God in them, don’t intentially look to hurt others. I really appreciated how you highlighted that copying can rob an artist of their greatest God inspired work.

    This topic has always bothered me. I often felt like people would shame me for buying name brand purses or shoes and such as they are considered to be expensive and to some a waste of money, but I’ve never liked a fake or copy of anything. I appreciate the design, integrity, quality, and authenticity of an original item. I no longer feel bad about that. With age and wisdom, if purchased less and saved for big items I love, but all the same I choose to buy authentic for many of the reasons you discussed. When I see a fake/copy of one of the designs/items I’ve purchased, I experience many emotions/thoughts. Ultimately, I find myself increasingly loyal to the original.

    Please, continue to discuss big issues and your beautiful and creative designs. Your work is a blessing to me and many others. There are many choices of where to buy items and what to read/subscribe to and your authenticity and loyalty to the vision God has placed in your heart will continue to produce fruit!

  • Thanks for this post. As a newbie in the paper and home goods industry, I’ve not yet had to deal with being copied, but it can be very difficult from the other side – to come up with your own ideas, seek out inspiration, but be very careful NOT to be disrespectful and copy others’ ideas. It’s hard to walk that line sometimes because some trends are so strong (handlettering for example) and you want to capitalize on them. We are overwhelmed daily with beautiful inspiration of lovely products on Instagram and social media. It’s difficult but important to find your own style, your own voice, and craft your own original brand. I believe there’s room for all of us, it’s just a question of honing your craft and being respectful of other people’s ideas, which I’ve been trying my best to do with my product line. So thanks for the wise words Val!

    Also, I really love that shirt!

  • Thank you for sharing this! I know as an artist, that it’s not easy to forgive when someone copies my idea. I’ve always heard that the first thing you should do for a bully is pray; this helps me realize that they’re human and they make mistakes(just like me). Then I’m more ready to forgive.

  • I love these words! As someone planning to enter the world of blogging and business I am so keen to do it as someone who is in the world but not of it. To not allow myself to fall on the classic ‘everyone else does it so I can get away with it’ line.
    This post of yours is inspiring and so thought provoking. X

  • Val, I follow you on instagram and have to say that this post couldn’t have arrived at a more pivotal time for myself & my business. The wedding industry is ruthless and I find myself consistently challenged to maintain a grace filled heart towards a certain copycat I’ve faced for over two years. Your post hit home for me and somehow I breathe a bit easier with your suggestions. You write so eloquently! Thank you, thank you. This was definitely grace on point.

  • Thank you for this brave post! It is something I often struggle with (the line between copying and inspiration) and when I look deeper it is my low self esteem and my fear of rejection that stops me from being my own creative person. I am now starting to trust that God has given me something worth sharing and that I don’t need to to please anyone but him. Thank you again for this post!

  • Great post! I do think there is such a fine line between being inspired and copying. It’s so hard as a “creative” to not as yourself that question as you’re creating and servicing others. A lot of my work is by being inspired by everything around me. I tend to second guess myself and not want to put it out because it could look too close to someone else’s work or surely I’m not the the first to come up with this idea, but I’ve heard several times growing up: “nothing is new under the sun.” I really think we should be encouraging to one another because we’re all trying to make a living and in a way we’ve dreamed or aspired to. I love that you ask that we pray for one another. So powerful!

  • Val,
    Thank you so much for posting this. As I am
    Just now deciding not to let fear get in the way of chasing my dreams (I am opening an etsy next week!) I am encouraged by your example of how to keep christ at the center of your art. It’s so encouraging to me when women I look up to are willing to admit their sin and repent but not wallow in guilt, recognizing that we are ultimately forgiven. Plus- I love the honesty in recognizing how taking someone else’s work isn’t celebrating them or trusting God go create through us. I already see how easy it is to compare myself to other artists or to copy parts of their ideas, and it is helpful to hear your honesty and wisdom on how to handle that struggle from both sides. I am constantly inspired by your work and also by your love for jesus 🙂

    Thank you again!

    K scarry

  • Great advice! I have always wanted to start my own Etsy shop or small business but I feel like with technology and Pinterest orginality and creativity are somewhat lost. In the end, if you are creating something for someone, then it is special for them and that’s what matters. I create for the joy that comes from people loving your product. If someone wants to copy me, I’m flattered, but it’s okay to educate that person on what they’re doing and pray for their heart to change. Overall I think you do a wonderful job with your business and I just found you on Instagram a month ago! Love your journals and that shirt is adorable!

  • I liked what you shared in one of the comments, as well, about searching for the item you are thinking of launching. When I first opened my etsy shop, I had searched for my item’s keywords (which happened to be super specific….couldn’t be searched for by any other 2 words) and nothing showed up. My heart broke when about 2 years later after having a successful shop I began searching & dozens of copies showed up that in no way could have been an “inspiration.” To be honest, I really felt God leading me to close shop for other reasons as well. This additional stress was just another nudge. I feel so at peace now. I, by no means, am saying close shop when you are hurt, but for me I am thankful that God used that difficult time to lead me away from that creative venture. I’m sure I will reopen my shop with totally different items eventually, but for now I thank Him for the opportunities I was given while I had my shop. I’m not going to lie, it is still hard to know that others are selling my designs now, but I feel confident in the decision I made.

  • Ah, I love this. It hurts so much sometimes to see people copy. This resonates with me a lot. I think it’s always a good idea to ask ourselves why we are creating. Is it because it’s what we see out there or because it’s something that really inspires us and is true to our core. If it’s not the latter, we probably shouldn’t do it.

  • I read your article and the tears rolled. How I wish I would have found your article over a year ago.
    I am an aspiring photographer. Possibly one of the most trying times in my artistic growth was dealing with a christian copycat, right in my church. Over and over I was bombarded with different scenarios but in the end God has allowed me to release myself of this situation. I can say true freedom.
    God has shown me that unforgiveness in this Christian Copycat syndrome only serves as a distraction from allowing me to reach my destiny and walk in His goodness. While I am in bondage, turmoil, all upset…..I will never get to divine appointments or the destination He has for me. In looking back, He needed me to surpass that one instance with that particular person because along the way I would deal with it again and again. He didn’t release those additional opportunities until He knew I was able to not be distracted. I haven’t arrived yet, but I continue to strive in my photography. Being Me!

    Thank you so much for sharing on your blog. Your article blessed me so much….I am sharing it with my MOPS leadership team tomorrow at our meeting:)

  • Sadly, too many “Christians” check their integrity for their own comfort. If you are willing to operate dishonestly to convey a Christian message, you are merely using the gospel for your own means. We need to stop condemning people for calling out a wrong, and start making people own up the wrong.

  • Thank you for this post! It has really challenged my perspective and encourages me to keep working with integrity. I am the communications director at our church and the idea of originality really hits home. Our staff constantly is having discussions on how to be original to our location and our church culture (in many avenues – graphic design, events, programs, etc…). It is easy to copy what other church’s in the area or even in our state do, but that does not make us unique. This post has really encouraged me to keep going down the path of originality and creativity and not give into what is easy. Thank you for posting this Val! I can only imagine how tough it was to be so transparent. Your integrity and conviction is very inspiring!

  • I loved every bit of what you said. I have had a few people copy my work trying to learn hand lettering/calligraphy and, while I am glad they weren’t selling it, and I understand they were trying to learn, that little bit of rage boiled up in me. Responding correctly is so important! I think just a general push among creatives to support one another in individuality would be super helpful! Thanks for writing!

  • Valerie,

    Thank you so much for this post, you know I am very new to Instagram, and I was guilty at first posting “inspirational” pictures, and quickly learned to always credit the work. However, crediting the work according to my photographer friends still does not make it right, which allowed me to delve in deeper in knowing the proper use of Instagram, this goes for all other social media platforms. Each social media platform has a true purpose, and correct way of using to convey messages. Your post is a great first step to have the conversation, because I honestly think there are some people who don’t know how to use, and/or credit information on their platforms if it is inspirational. Now, if you’re just blatantly talking about stealing the info and making it your own, now that’s just horrible.

  • Oh friend, this is so so good. I was just talking with my friend about this today, and I’ve had it happen to me. Thank you for being a voice of grace and truth. Can’t wait to hug you soon 🙂

  • You are so wise. I feel the same way with wedding planning. It’s difficult as a designer for a bride to bring you a design (likely that they found on Pinterest), and not want to replicate it for them. I’m trying so hard to support other designers, to love their work without taking something from it. xoxo

  • Val ,

    This whole blog post is beautiful. I recently felt the sting of being copied by others. I felt so… pitiful because of how much it upset me. I mean, just get over yourself and move on, right!? But there was this little voice inside of me that kept saying, “that was my idea!” and it bothered me to no end. I have ENDLESS ideas… I am kind of like an idea factory. The people that were copying my ideas were some of my closest friends too. I had confided in them my ideas and they took them for themselves. Which is probably why it hurt the most. After I was copied I made a resolution to be braver. To step out and be brave in music, in photography, in writing to fulfill my own ideas. It takes courage to step out into the world and present your mind and heart and dreams and I’ve decided to do just that. I love how you cover both sides – how to deal with copying and how to deal with it inside yourself. I’m going to bookmark this article and read it if it happens again so I can handle it in a better way.

    Thank you Val!

  • Val,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to chat about this topic. It’s something that not only the artist being copying gets really defensive about – but also the copier.

    Unfortunately, it happens. And it will continue to happen. I love that you are offering ways to deal from a Christian point of view because it’s not really talked about in that context.

    I’ve had to confront people that I genuinely like about copying my work and it’s really hard for me to do… In the end, I try and have an encouraging way about motivating people to change what they are doing. Encourage them to really think about their motives. Not for me – but for themselves and their own success and creative pursuit. Obviously, if someone seriously stole your work and is re-selling it, you should take legal action; but if it’s something as abstract as someone “stealing your aesthetic” or “stealing your voice” or whatever, it’s harder to make a claim. That being said – I make it very clear on my blog and website that I’m an encourager of personal voice. I think it’s been a good way for me to cope with the fact that people are copying a lot of my work (and lots of other letterers – INCLUDING Lindsay!) but instead of just feeling bad for myself, I’m giving people the tools they need to succeed in their own creative pursuit without copying as a crutch.

    Likewise, it keeps me encouraged to keep evolving and trying new things.

    I think that it’s important to be honest with people when they do you wrong but always encourage others to pursue what God really has planned for them. I love that you mention that.

    xo,
    M

    • Thanks so much for the feedback Molly! I love what you said about encouraging them to succeed in their own creative pursuit and to find their own voice! I think more of that in our industry would go a long way!! Also, if you saw my wedding collection, you already know I’m a big fan of your work!! 😉

  • I love this article so much, as I have seen this happen so often. Copying even shows up in the “voice” people use on their blogs, and it’s very obvious when people are copying each other. However, on the opposite side of this, I feel that there has to be some level of “copying”…not blatant copying, but sometimes people can do the same things with their own twist. I have been wanting to start a blog and business for YEARS but every time I come up with a good idea, it seems like at least 5 people are already doing it better than I could. But why can’t several people make prayer journals, or prints, or shirts, or planners, and just do it in their own way? I know they do, but sometimes even the people who are doing it well are all doing it in a similar way. I desperately want to do my own thing but have let the fear of someone thinking I’m a copycat hold me back. I know I’m not the person you’re addressing in this post and I obviously think that God gave us enough creativity to go around, but I thought I would offer a different perspective 🙂

    • Megan! You make a great point! This post is definitely not saying there can’t be more than one product in the market. Frankly, that would stink if we didn’t have choices. This is referring to copycats in the sense where the bulk of the work is done by someone else. If you catch yourself referring back to someone’s website to see how they did everything, it’s probably too close. But if you are putting in the time and effort to chart your own course with it, you are creating with integrity and can proudly stand behind what you create no matter how many products are on the market.
      I think a lot of times there are two extremes: people who feel like anything they do will be copying and people who don’t think anything they do is copying. It seems you are already doing a heart check and wanting to respect other people’s work so I honestly feel like that will show in your work. Definitely don’t let fear hold you back from creating what God has for you!

  • Hi Val,

    Wonderful post!

    I have read almost all of the comments on this post and just about all of them co-sign (agree) with what you’re saying. This would not be a real ‘conversation’ unless we throw in another perspective so we can look at this from both sides of the fence.

    Believe me when I say that I am coming from a good place and not trying to be crumby. I am a believer as well and come with peace.

    Where do we draw the line with trend and copying? I see where you mention many creatives using the ‘same props, fonts, colors’ over and over again but as I look around your site, you are using these same trendy items. Those same Gold paper clips and gold scissors to style your products, elements of those same arrows that I see everywhere online (also in your logo), wreaths swirls and spirals, fonts/calligraphy similar to the famous bombshell font, same polka dot patterns, wooden stamps, etc. Its beautiful work, but its ‘trendy’ and similar to what so many other creatives of that style are putting out there. I don’t see anything ‘brand new’ (except writing on mason jars instead of the typical white mug, which is awesome). Even many prayer books were done before you, and many will be created after you.

    Even in the creative world, there are boundaries. To keep a logo or invitation design aesthetically tasteful there are only so many colors, shapes, fonts one can pick from before things start looking similar again. Yes, theres 16 million colors in the world (thanks adobe), but you can only point out 50 individual colors before they all start looking the same again. Same with the fonts; I’ve looked at a 1000 scripted fonts, and only about 30 are truly unique before you start categorizing them by their similarities because the rest look so similar to the 30. Because of this, designs will overlap. I guarantee you there was someone out there with a logo quite similar to yours before yours was even developed.

    This happens even in the fashion industry. Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton and coach have that same logo stamped brown tote with tan trim. They’re not blowing the whistle. Mac, revlon, YSL, etc. all produce pretty much the same lipstick colors. No whistle.

    There is blatant copying (assembling together the EXACT same item with the same color, font, content, props, etc.) and then there is providing what the trend is (with your own creative touch), that your clients want and will love. We as creative are all working with similar tools, thoughts, skills, resources. Its about how you uniquely assemble them that makes your work not 100% like someone else’s.

    • I must say I agree with you. Everybody’s stuff is pretty much the same, even my stuff :\ and I make an effort not to copy. It just ends up that way. That goes for all creatives of the same style type except for sketch artist/oil painters maybe. All grunge style designers are relatively using the same fonts, brushes, and stains. All the whimsical style designers are using pretty much the same calligraphy, and the same peonies and macarons on instagram too!

      The only way to do something truly unique to the point of someone knowing xyz’s design work when they see it is if you do something totally off the wall and it catches on; which is rare. Like LouBoutin’s famous red bottom heels. Other than that, his shoes are like everyone else’s. Honestly, I can’t think of any other unique example like that off the top of my head. What are we invitation designers supposed to do to be strikingly different? Dip one corner of the invite in gold glitter so you know its a Dee Dahms invitation? The rest of the card will still look pretty similar to everyone else in my style category.

      Bottomline, it’s not worth the energy, fuss or time to get mad or even address a copy cat unless they are blatantly copying you. Keep doing your thing and God will keep shining down on you and everything you create regardless of how many similar works there are out there.

      • I totally agree, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to idea. It’s how our story, experience and talents shape those “old ideas” that makes them unique. And like you said, none of this really applies unless work is being blatantly copied and although it might not be worth the energy, when copying happens as it has to so many of my friends and myself, it can be pretty consuming and frustrating. I hope this post will help people to let go of a lot of that frustration and focus on creating beautiful products for the Lord and remind us all to ultimately be inspired by the Lord instead of our competition.

    • I agree with you, it’s hard to be completely unique with only so much to work with. And I’m so glad you like our mason jars! I had planned to do a mug, but honestly I know too many cute ones out there and wanted to work my hardest to bring something different. You asked where the line is. I think it goes along with a lot of what I feel like I’ve heard from the church. The goal is not to see how close to the line we can get without crossing, but to hold ourself to a higher standard. If we have integrity and honesty in our business, talking specifics about what font is far enough to be different isn’t so important. If someone came up with the same prayer journal at the same time without seeing mine, I don’t think there is any ill motive in that. I think we just have to be really honest with ourselves about what we are designing. We have to hold ourself to a higher standard and ask ourself, am I just designing this because I saw it work successfully for someone else? Am I taking their design and then making a few changes so it looks different or am I creating something inspired by the Lord and my own story? I was told by the person that I felt copied me that she felt the Lord calling her to design it. I completely understand this and don’t doubt it and actually don’t think it’s bad that she designed a similar product, but I don’t think the Lord told her to use the same fonts and layout. People are going to use Bombshell and other trendy things but when too many aspects are the same, it’s hard to ignore. My goal in this post is to get us thinking instead of just justifying questionable actions with the phrases I mentioned in the blogpost and even some you mentioned were good examples too. They can be valid but they can also just be an excuse to keep doing what we are doing. This whole process has made me take a harder look at my own designs and has had me praying so much more asking God what He wants me to be designing. Thanks for your feedback. This definitely helps make it a real conversation! 🙂

  • What a fantastic post. You know at the end of the day, some of us out there figure out the who the copier is and that was the case with me in studying two similar products this past year and seeing that they were very, very familiar. I checked out both Instagram accounts and their blogs and personal websites and decided after praying who was the “copier.” I’m not going to call names but boy what an eye opener for me. I just got my new product which is beautiful, popular and designed by a wonderful lady who I can see clearly came up with the concept way before. I prayed to God that something like this never happens to me. It must be horribly challenging to be copied on something you work so hard at.

    In fact just in day to day life I feel sometimes copied with certain things and you feel a flicker of annoyance (I.e. A friend comes over and spies a recipe you have done from a family cookbook and uses it as her own repertoire from there on sort of thing) however copying design or creative work and blatantly passing it on as your own is uncouth and to me one of the lowest things you can do!

    I must commend you, and the wonderful lady who is the reason why I stumbled across here without calling names.

    Prayer is the sure fast wat to help with not feeling enraged or angry when in a situation like this. That’s what I know for sure!!

  • We’re not in a particularly creative business, but we did allow another person/couple into our business who, when we wouldn’t agree to sell their multi-level marketing products, parted ways and started their own nearly identical business in the same very small town…then watched other church friends and other friends, promote, work for, and further copy other aspects of our business week by week. I won’t say it’s not a struggle. I appreciate your words on this topic… you seem to stand alone in speaking up. Prayers for us both.

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