I recently went through a situation with a fellow creative – someone known for creating and assembling offerings with a flair and a zest uniquely their own that is hugely popular, and rightly so, with their chosen target markets. Yet recently this person felt compelled to personally attack me and the things I design. It was expressed in no uncertain terms that they believed I am stealing their ideas.
Who Owns an Idea?
Stealing, borrowing, being “inspired by” others’ designs is the exact opposite of what I seek to do with my art. My goal to always apply my creative energy to designs and concepts that bubble out of my own dreams, my own subconscious, my own point of view. I invent worlds, create landscapes that didn’t exist before and put my cartoons onto items in ways other people won’t have thought of, they wouldn’t have been able to – I invent it as I go – even I don’t know what’s next!
When in Mexico…
I do live in Mexico now, though, so it is inevitable that my designs are going to start to show up with a local flavor and, at times, even reproduced by local artisans when I want something custom done.
Purse makers, jewelers, weavers, ceramicists, costume makers and welders – they can all expect to hear from me with some sketches in hand! The lucha libre costume I’m having made for my miniature horse is one nutty example.
The post on the rug I had made to be an oversized saddle blanket in the style of local caballeros but with a HappyArt color sensibility illustrates another way this relationship with local craftspeople can play out. Below is a yet another perfect example of what I’m talking about. It’s a gate I designed and had made by a local welder last summer.
You’re Stealing From Me!
So back to the instant message conversation in which I was angrily admonished for lifting ideas – I wish I could simply copy and paste the whole conversation here – but that would surely give away the identity of this person and possibly cast them in a less attractive light which is not my goal at all (even if I blacked out their name and avatar – the details of the conversation would make it clear to some).
I continue to wish them well with all of their projects and will keep myself as completely uninformed as I can be about what any of those might be from this day forward. Let there be simply no possible way I can be accused of having been influenced or inspired by anything they might be up to ever, ever again.
Below is the much shortened version of the hurtful things this person said in their heated exchange with me. There was a lot more, none of it kind, nor accurate. Anger clouded their every statement, and groundless accusations just kept piling one atop another.
Not the First Time
This wasn’t the first of such attacks this person made against me either. As this last one played out in the slow motion scroll of instant messages, I understood that it was time to cut ties. Still, knowing this didn’t make these ugly statements any easier to bear, not at first. So I posted the quote below on my personal Facebook timeline to see if anyone had some thoughts about how I should cope. They did!
There was such an outpouring of support and camaraderie it occurred to me later that probably the only other way you could ever hear such a generous bunch of sweetness would be if you were attending your own funeral, lol! One of the latter commenters, after reviewing the thread and all the various viewpoints and enlightened wisdom demonstrated by each individual, suggested I compile all the good advice given and assemble it into a book to help other artists to refer to if they, too, have to struggle with a tongue lashing like this. Since this isn’t a topic I have expertise in, nor is it one I want to dwell upon in a time frame that writing and editing a book would require I countered: “How’s about I just make it into a blog post?” So I did! You’re reading it.
Clearly, creative people come across situations similar to the one I experienced from time to time. Indeed, I have caught wind of such exchanges through my career from other artists at all levels at every stage in their creative journey. I googled the concept and found some posts that helped me understand how I might have unconsciously struck a nerve in this other person – but it was my Facebook friends who really came up with great ideas on how to cope. It seems like their comments may be useful to others facing a similar situation.
Help! Facebook Peeps!
Here was my post on Facebook:
Today I was told I’m a “clueless” “inconsiderate idiot” who needs to get “some of my own effing ideas”. So that’s what I’ll be working on this week.
A lot of the comments I received were beautifully expressed support personally tailored to me and my art specifically. Below are some of the broader based gems that people shared that may also bring comfort to others:
SO Many Helpful Comments
Tuesday T. Said: “Sounds like someone is lacking, and trying to make you feel less than you are in order to make themselves feel better.”
Wendy C.: “somebady feelin inferior has to shat on the sweetling” and “it happened to me last yr. from two friends…i was wounded as fuck…slept in a ball for a long time…didn’t see it coming…jealousy i say”
Jennifer R.: “That must have been so hard to hear and I am so sorry for the way you were treated. It certainly shows more about their character than yours.”
Jennifer R.: “No waaayyyy…… If I believed everything people told me, I would have offed myself many years ago! Hang in there and ignore the A-holes!!!”
Sheri W.: “What that person said speaks more about who they are rather than who you are”
Stefanie G.: “Decent artists never tear each other down. A pox on (them).”
Marion M.: “WTF? You need different people in your life.” and “Buy my art. Don’t buy my art. Opinions about my life not solicited…”
Deb L.: “As I’m quite fond of saying: bite me.”
Deb C.: “Whoa. I hope you didn’t let that sink in anywhere. You KNOW it isn’t true. Instead, those are the words of someone whose aim is to hurt you, not give you honest and constructive criticism. Whoever said that is feeling insecure and has the need to lash out. I’m so sorry you were the target. You don’t deserve it. You and your work are wonderful, and original. Also, f*ck them. grin emoticon”
Barrie C.: “Liberace walked onto the stage one time holding a popular magazine in which he and Victor Borga were accused of being gay. To the audience he said “you can imagine how I felt reading that about Victor and myself. Why that very day I went out on my yacht and sulked.”
Donna P.: “How very gracious, thoughtful and kind of them to let you know!! …. and in such a gentle way.”
Lucind J.: “Wow! Those are pretty strong words. Hope you don´t take them to heart.”
Tony F.: “Projection rhetoric can be very hurtful, until you realise that they’re just telling you about *their* day…”
Danielle O.: “unfriend and block the bitch.” She added: “and dont tell me it wasnt a woman! of course it was. no one needs this shit-tell her to get back on her meds!”
Robin D.: “Unbelievable, unnecessary and untrue! !!”
Lindy H.: “Let your friends circle their wagons around you.” and “positivity and love will ALWAYS prevail – maybe losing the battle, but always winning the war”
Mary T.: “eeeeeeeeeeek to who or whomever”
Dan C.: “Once, here on Facebook, Jeffrey wrote a beautifully worded blurb about Trump, then one of Trump’s supporters wrote back a thoughtful “U R NUTZ!!!” I found this funny.”
Norma J.: “who needs to say shit like that? If that’s what you actually think of somebody, then go away and don’t bother with them. Why the need to be an ass?”
David F.: “For me, under similar circumstances, my challenge would be how to not react and instead simply dismiss the attacker and every word used in the attack.” and I responded “Me too. I am not happy that I have let this upset me to this degree. Why is negativity so much stronger than positivity sometimes?” and so David added: “Good question but now you have identified an area to work on for your own personal growth.” – to which I heartily agreed. He concluded: “Try to remember that it was the attackers ego talking and your own ego reacting. The ego is always wrong.”
Jo B.: “Please don’t let their nasty words get to you. Let your love & your heart & your beautiful talent SHINE! Big hugs to you”
Rose C.: “Negativity is stronger or more remembered because IMHO human beings each think we suck. Many famous people upon being interviewed say they feel like imposters and concerned about getting busted. Famous and competent folks feel this. So when some person blasts us with negativity, it strikes a cord because it touches upon our ‘private conversation’ about ourselves. Not good but in my experience and those of my friends…true. Secret is to practice self-love and get it! So when blasted it becomes like water off a duck’s back!” and she added: “sometimes we need a good kick in the axx!” she concluded with: “what comes from people’s mouths about others is often what is in their head about themselves. maybe this person thinks that of themself. ya just never know! bless that person and move ON! you got this!!!”
Janet S.: “Just let it go honey. You me and everyone else knows thats crazy talk. Let it go kiddo. Water off a ducks back…”
Michelle I.: “Late in life I discovered that others cannot break me, only I have the power to tear myself up. I am a constant work in progress, not letting the opinions of others bother me! Keep on living your dream!”
Joan T.: “you have got to know that those words are not you and more a reflection of the speaker. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that it is okay to talk like that to another person. No manners? Uncouth? Damaged? Dealing with their own pain?”
Jennifer B.: “As for the notion of your critic’s talent/popularity somehow justifying their cruel, silly vitriol, google “artists who were jerks” and it will return a bunch of articles about famous talents who behaved very badly.” and she had this too: “For years I kept a magazine article where famous performers shared the nastiest criticisms they’d ever received. It was unbelievable. My favorite was when Meryl Streep was introduced to some big shot Italian producer/director (before she was famous). He said some friendly stuff in English, then spoke in Italian to the person who introduced her. Something like “She’s not pretty! Why do you waste my time?” Streep let him know she understood Italian by telling him “I don’t like that” in said language.”
Suzanna R.: “That unenlightened person should know that what you give, you will receive. As you can see, he/she is receiving a lot of negativity back, and you, my wonderful, happy positive friend, are receiving praise and support back. As for stealing ideas, how childish! When I see someone else doing something similar to my art, I don’t think its stolen, I think “hey! cool! other people think that’s great too!” There are so many people in this world, it’s arrogant to think ONLY YOU had this idea. (Not you personally, Marti, I mean the ubiquitous you)”
Shirley C.: “Some people can only judge and see bad things. If they can’t see bad they make it up.”
Patty W.: “I’ve lived it my friend , oxoxo stand tall , head up , and laugh !!!”
Tiffany P.: “Some people are “Special”. Just grin and ignore them…”
Stafanie B.: “When people say this, it is because they are insecure and probably a bit intimidated”
Jenny Z.: “Maybe someone was having a bad day (or attitude).”
Elena A.: “Only a clueless, inconsiderate idiot would ever actually say such a thing to another person”
Timothy W.: “Even if you wish to tell someone to “go to hell”, but lack the creativity to make them feel as if they will have a nice trip, then you clearly have no business in either pretending to be a critic nor offer a pretentious critique.”
Keiko M.: “Wow. Clearly that person is as dumb as a dickhole. How can they say that about your work when I’m over here stealing your ideas to recreate myself along with all the awesomely funny ideas and comments other people make that I turn around and steal for my own work?”
Amy S.: “That sounds like it comes from a sad and hurt place you are SO not responsible for.”
Marina P.: “Not by any stretch of the imagination would this be anyone you ever need pay attention to!” then she bumped into this sage advice a little later: “The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering—yours, mine, and that of all beings.”
Shannon R.: “fuck ’em. you don’t need that b.s. in your life.”
Kate H.: “sorry you’re dealing with this & happy to see all the support. Keep on keeping on!”
Eva M.: “Don’t give these lies any power to upset you. You know the Truth and that’s not it. I and many others love and appreciate you! Listen to us instead.”
Ingrid A.: “Don’t give them space in your head.”
Roberta G.: “What’s wrong with people? Comments like that say more about the people making them. For decades some people have said awful things about my art and stories…… But what only matters is the opinion of people I respect! So, you do exactly what you do and your unique ideas!”
Linda W.: “There are more horses’ asses than horses”