Is it my design or their design?

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lerandia wrote
on May 4, 2013 9:12 PM


At what point can you call a design yours? 

Here is a familiar story. You are working on a fabulous jewelry design by another artist. At some point, through your own taste or as often is my case, you begin to make so many 'happy mistakes' that the end result looks like the original design in concept only.

So, you are wearing this hybridized design one day and someone asks, " Wow! Did you make that?" Normally, you reply, " Make? Yes. Design? No. It's a design by______." But now, you don't really know how to answer. 

Do you claim it as your design inspired by the original artist's design? Do you explain that it was designed by ______, but you made 'adaptations'? 

Here's an important one: Can you sell it as original art?

So, at what point does this become YOUR design? When there are 30% in deviations? 45%? 80%? What criteria for those deviations? Color? Materials? Additions? Subtractions? Layout alterations?

I'm really interested in what the community, particularly published artists, have to say on this. Also, what have other jewelry makers done in this situation? What were the results? Be as honest, logical, blunt, and brutal as possible. 

Ps. I'm posting this in a few forums.



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D.M.Z wrote
on May 5, 2013 12:52 AM

From my memory bank........ I remember that if the item still looks substantially the same, it is the designers. You could execute the pattern you started with in another stitch, but as long as you are following the designers pattern and it looks substantially the same, you need to acknowledge that you did the work, but it was originally designed by ____________. Like the old saying.....if it quacks like a duck, it is a duck......or some similar wording. Published artists are often making their sole income on patterns and kits and through paid articles in magazines or books. Some of them can be very upset if they see one of their patterns being claimed by someone else and this has happened. Stitches are not copyright-able, but the way stitches are put together (another words the design) is and the original designer has a copyright on their work. 

I would say the changes must be substantial and deviate greatly from the original pattern to be called your own and I do not believe that just a change in color, a change in material or layout would make it yours. Unless these changes are again substantial. In the majority of cases I would be honest and just say......... I took a pattern designed by ________ and made alterations to it to make it more personal to me. Read the front disclaimer in a bead mag, it says you can make anything in there for your personal use. That sounds pretty clear to me. 

My work consists of loomed pieces made from my own photographs or photos from someone who has given me specific permission to use it, or if it is offloom work, it is from my sketch book where I have made multiple drawings and noted changes, etc. If I saw one of my designs attributed to someone else, I'd be a bit hot about it. My work is pretty well documented and I have a sketch book that shows my ideas from the start to the finished product. I doubt there is a legal definition of what you are asking, but I'd hate to incur the rath of a high end and famous beader, a lot of damage could be done to your reputation. Be an artist yourself and create something that is for sure yours.

I'd love to read a general post in the future about the results you get from this inquiry. Excuse me for rambling along, but it is a bit late and my thoughts are not so organized as I'd like. Donna

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on May 24, 2013 11:03 AM

I always give credit to the original artist, if I've made something of theirs. I would say, "Pattern by..." But it also depends on if I've altered it. Then it would be something like, "Inspired by so and so's pattern, then a link or book title/page number." If the artist can be easily contacted like a fb friend, I ask their permission to make the pattern, then ask if I can make to sell. I've never had any artist say anything negative, they're mostly happy that someone out their is making their pattern. But I guess diff ppl have diff ideas.

Then again, these patterns I never sell the items, as I call them "learning patterns" That is I'm learning a new technique with their patterns, and making it for the first time, I always make mistakes!! And I use the same colors as their pattern, basically a close as I can get, exact copy, ONLY for learning purposes.

Making my own patterns often don't have a lot of thought put into them. I don't think about how I want the end result to be, I find the technique I want, the colors I want to use and just go. I find I make tons more mistake if I'm over thinking how I'm going to finish it, what toggles etc, it get too confusing. I just go with the flow.

Except for 3 cross stitch loomed bracelets (all same pattern, not my pattern though), all my other loomed bracelets are designed and made by me. So yes, I DO own 100% originality for the ones I did design.

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on May 24, 2013 5:55 PM

Angry  oops

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on May 24, 2013 5:55 PM

Well said.. I think if you have change it a little - It is not your design.  If Someone makes a dress from a pattern, and then changes it, like make it sleeveless or something like that - does not make them a designer..  just a very good seamstress, the original design  has taken hours to and brain power to make& create in the first place.. Bravo DMZ.  I 'm  just giving my opinion.  I am not a copyright expert by a long shot.. lol. Happy crafting to all.

queentroll1955 or crazy Mary from Iowa

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ionart wrote
on May 25, 2013 7:35 PM


Great info, it helped me... but I do have another question.  What happens when you have made a piece that you have not copied and months later you see something in one of the books that looks so much like yours you have to look twice at it!  Here it is in a magazine and you know it's yours...  I understand that with a pool of a limited number of stitches that sooner or later there has to be so similiar designs.  What happens there.. 

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