Community over Competition: Copying Others
So here is a transcript of her talk. Parts of it have been edited to make it read better as an article. You can watch the full video where she gives this talk on YouTube.
If you don’t follow Katie on YouTube or Instagram, it is worth it to add her to your feed. She’s super fab.
Community Over Competition from Katie Carson
“I have given a lot of thought to the idea of stealing or copying someone else’s work over the years. Here is the best explanation that I have come up with as to why it is not worth worrying over:
There is no way, under the sun that every single person can see every single design that has ever been made and then on top of that remember it. I follow about 300 instagram accounts. Let’s assume that 100 of them are makers. Let’s say that each of these makers post once a month. Just one new design. That means that by the end of the year, just the 100 makers I follow will have made 1200 different designs.
Now, I will never see all of those designs because of social media algorithms. But even if I could. I could never remember all of those designs. And neither can you or anyone else.
Two different artists can make very similar designs without having seen or remembered the design from another creator. Not only is it completely possible, it is very probable.
It would be very prideful of me to assume that someone has copied my work. First to assume that they have seen my work and even know who I am. Because it is very possible for them to not even know who I am. And then to assume that they took my work and stole it. It is prideful to think that you are so big that everyone has seen every project you’ve ever made.
I’ve probably made over 400 designs. I can’t even remember all my own designs. Chances are that you might make one that looks similar to mine. Many of us make new designs all the time. I would never get upset at someone for drawing inspiration from something I’ve designed in the past.
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Even if they draw inspiration from something that is current, there are enough customers for everyone. I don’t want people to be scared of the community coming after them. I don’t believe in cancel culture. Channel all of that energy into creating more art.
Focus on your art. Stop looking around at what everyone else is doing. Don’t be tempted to spend your energy in getting offended over something you can’t even prove. Spend that time imagining something beautiful. Creating something amazing. It’s detrimental to you and other makers to act like that.
I want it welcome all new makers. I want you to feel encouraged and to help create a safe space for you.
Lift others up. When you see something similar, compliment them, don’t shame them.
Here is my advice: if you are inspired by someone else’s work give them a shout out. It just strengthens the community. There is no reason not to say “this was inspired by this person” on at least one post. Adopting this mentality just created a lot more grace in the community. If everyone is being extra generous on both sides. Extra generous with giving credit to original artist. And extra generous with your response if you are not given credit. It creates a more healthy environment. Assume the best. Assume that if someone copied you that they would give you credit, but don’t assume they copied you.
Your designs are desirable. There are people out there that want your designs. They do! And just because there are other people are selling something similar, doesn’t mean you are going to lose all your customers. You have something unique to bring. We all have amazing creations to share.
I want you to be kind and courageous in your business. I want you to succeed. I want you to grow.
– Katie Carson, Royalty Soaps
Watch the Full Soapbox Speech here: youtube.com/watch?v=cjPD0dD-0NY
Amen to all of this. You have something unique about what you are creating. Even if someone else has already created a pattern similar to yours, chances are you have one aspect of your knit or crochet pattern that is different. Maybe you are a master of color and put together color guides for your customers. Maybe you are really good at communicating your pattern instructions clearly. Maybe you have the most amazing photography of your work.
Just because your sweater looks similar to “Designer A’s” sweater, doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth publishing. The thing that you do differently from the other designer is what will draw customers to you. If you are all about the charts, and the other designer is all about written instructions, then you will attract different types of knitters.
You have something amazing to offer the fiber arts community. Don’t let fear trap you from doing what you know you love and are great at.
Katie started making soap at the age of 16 at her family’s home school co-op. Royalty Soaps creates luxury, hand-crafted products that you can be proud to gift to loved ones, display in your home, and use on your skin.
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