Saturday, April 02, 2016

Do The Right Thing...

When I was growing up, I didn't always get along with my father.  We often times would butt heads because we saw the world differently.  I was an unruly child, looking for myself and as a result, questioned everything.  I'd shave half an eyebrow off to see how it looked, or would throw rocks in the air to see high they would go, or paint my arm with Shellac to see if I could make my skin look like glass.  (Sometimes the results of my "experiments" were... well... less than ideal.)  And there was my father, scratching his head and witnessing my unusual shenanigans.  He was raised on a farm in the Ozarks and served both in the Air Force and the Navy – he was very salt of the earth and very regimented.  The tensions in our family were heightened after my brother went missing and it only added fuel to the fire.  Even though we locked horns often and disagreed on about almost everything, I love and respect my father.  He worked hard to support his family and did what he thought was best.  His work ethic was impeccable and he had a mantra that he would repeat... especially if I was caught doing something wrong.  He would recite the Cadet Honor Code.  Just thinking of it, I can hear his voice in my head saying, "I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

Earlier this week, there was an issue about copying.  I won't go too much into it, because I've already rehashed it on Facebook and have already said all that I've really had to say on the subject there.  But to provide a little context, I had noticed someone in the craft community who was creating work very similar to a famous designers.  I thought it was a fluke, but the more I saw, the more I saw similarities.  Unbeknownst to me, there were several others who saw the same work and came to the same conclusion.  No one was publicly named, we all just expressed our feelings about the topic of copying and shared some of our experiences.  When someone else said that it could be also be just happenstance, I mentioned my reasonings of why I thought it was not coincidence.  I didn't have any strange fixations or vendettas.  I had no intention of ruining her reputation or going out of my way to destroy her business.

The thing is... I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.

I believe in integrity and standing up for what I think is right.  I believe in doing the right thing.  I'm by no stretch of the imagination perfect, but I will strive to be better and expect better from my peers and colleagues.  In theory, it would have been easier to say nothing and pretend that I never saw anything at all.  But that wouldn't be right.  I expressed my viewpoint and my feelings on the subject.  I didn't go out of my way to be mean, malicious, or call anyone out.  (The person inferred that it was about them... and honestly, a guilty conscious is the best confessor.)  But if you see something that you identify as wrong, don't you have a duty to at least say something?  

I don't personally know the successful artist who in my opinion was being copied, but I respect them and their abilities.  I respect their success and their recognition.  Most importantly, I respect their voice as their own.  What I have to say and how I have to say it is completely different than anyone else.  You could argue that there's no original stories or ideas or that everything has been done under the sun, but what makes a difference is when someone takes those things and owns them.  And let me say that I don't think the person who is making work that looks eerily similar is necessarily a bad person... at least I hope not... I just hope that they explore their own voice and use the comments from others as a way to grow as an artist and embrace their own style and aesthetic.  I have no intention to ruin this person's business.  I believe that people can either buy it or not buy and it's really up to them.

What prompted me to write this morning was a message that I received from the person.  They were upset with me and threatened to sue me for slander.  They also made accusations that I was a copier.  It struck me that it was easier for them to strike out at me, instead of internalize what I and several others noticed.  Instead of identifying the problem, acknowledging it and working on it, they picked the easier route.  I think it's easy for people to lash out at me, because I am very vocal and I'm easily accessible.  I seem to find myself at the receiving end of scathing emails or remarks more often than I would like.  But most of it comes from people seeing me expressing my opinions on right and wrong and not agreeing with it.  I think having my father drill the Cadet Honor Code into my head has deeply effected the way that I navigate the world.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to take the easy way out and stay silent, look away, mind my own business, know my place... but ultimately I'm drawn to do the right thing.


Ann Schroeder said...

I appreciate your comments here and on Facebook. I think a community needs to take care of itself. I would hope someone would stand up for me if I were being copied. Also, like you said, other people could unknowingly get duped. I also appreciate your compassion in wishing for her that she finds her own voice.

Lotus said...

I thought YOU handled it well, the copier not so much. She has only been successful in outing herself to the artistic community and showing her nasty, vindictive spirit.