Many of you will remember that, during a studio tour last Fall, I fell in love – with glass. It was a grand passion and I went nuts, bought a kiln two weeks later, and jumped in with both feet (not into the kiln), but into the creation of beautiful sparkly things.
The thing about me is that, no matter the medium, my monkey mind starts swinging from idea trees, and I come up with new and unusual “product” ideas. It’s what I do. I think this comes from all my years in marketing and retailing, but who really knows where ideas come from? Not me.
Shortly after I started creating kiln glass, it was shortly before Christmas, and I needed to stock the gallery with wonderful gifts.
So, I came up with the idea of the “Wish Dish”.
Now, in the kiln glass world, dresser plates are common – you know – the ones you can dump your jewelry or change into at night. Just one more mindless activity in our day. Ho-hum.
But, to me, any oft-repeated mindless activity like that is fodder for some mindful ritual. So, I came up with the idea that it would be a good time for making wishes (enforcing intentions is a more practical way of saying that, I guess). The more we pay attention to something, the more likely it will “come true”, as they say.
So, I made up a little card about that . . .
And included it with every Wish Dish. Punched a star out of the corner of the card too – just for extra specialness.
I also decided to combine Sterling Silver with the glass to create my stars for wishing upon. This combo was not very common in the glass world. Still isn’t.
So, all told, I had a pretty unique and unusual product.
And, it sold like crazy because it was a perfect gift idea for anyone – man, woman, child – even dogs and cats, who ALWAYS wish there was something in their dish.
I could hardly keep up.
We have sold Wish Dishes all this year in the new gallery too.
“Where is she going with this?”, you are wondering.
Well, lots of our gallery customers are tourists, and they want to be able to buy more Wish Dishes and other stuff from home.
There is clamoring for an e-commerce site for the gallery.
Creating such a thing doesn’t sound that easy, but it’s even more complicated than it sounds – for many reasons that I may talk about someday.
But one of those reasons, I will talk about today . . .
Putting original work online for the world to see – and copy.
Up to now, this post has been about me, but it just became about all of us, didn’t it?
The truth is that the internet is a giant paradise for copycats.
And it concerns artists who put their work online.
Now, I have created original ideas all my life (and yes, there ARE such things as original ideas. The people who say there aren’t are usually copycats, justifying their behavior.)
And I’ve been copied all my life.
But, it was more difficult to do. Someone had to come along and visit my gallery, and then, unless they bought something (they never do), they could walk away with only their momentary observation to work from.
Unless they tried taking pictures or making notes. Yes, people actually do that, but we usually caught them and cut it short.
But, the internet is a WHOLE different ballgame. When you put something on Etsy, let’s say, you’ve got all kinds of description and photos galore that people can walk off with . . . and copy.
Nobody could copy Sheer Heaven, as hard as they tried, and nobody can copy my painting or teaching style because they are NOT me, and their efforts won’t be anything like my work.
But a fine craft like glass or jewelry is different. The parts are out there, and if you share your ideas on how to put them together, you are probably going to see your ideas coming back at you from other people.
So, what to do? It’s a complicated question. You have to weigh the gains and losses.
You can keep your work off the internet, and keep your sales limited.
Or you can go for the benefit of the exposure and higher sales, knowing the risk you take of competing with your own product being made by somebody else.
I am really interested in your thoughts on this subject.
Meanwhile, I went ahead and did it – I opened an Etsy shop for the gallery:
I can only put my own work there because that’s the Etsy rule, but lots of things in our gallery ARE my work, so it’s a good start on the e-commerce thing.
Please visit and see what you think. There is lots more to come, but I managed to get a few things on there to look at. I am starting with some of our best sellers.
A brand new shop on Etsy needs some traffic to get on the radar, so your visit will help even if it is not a shopping visit this time.
Wonder how long before there will be some other “Wish Dishes” competing with mine?