Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Printables, copyright, a miniaturist's dilemma

i've finally gotten the cupcake and donut box printables up :P am also offering them as a set, with the macaron and cookie boxes, for a 3-in-1 price.


i've adjusted the prices for the printables. the original price was an introductory one, i didn't know if anyone would be interested and i had no idea how much cut Etsy and Paypal was taking out of each transaction. after calculating the costs, it just seemed so daunting the number of these i had to sell to even make up for the time i spent making, editing, printing, testing, prototyping, photographing, listing....i guess this is part and parcel to those who are in the industry, but for an independent seller...ouch. not to mention the worries over copyright etc.
Cupcake Box Printable, available here

one of the main reasons why i started looking into designing my own packaging, was so that i could make neat items that did not directly come from real life items. when i first started selling, i skirted round the copyright issue by simply scanning and modifying packaging, but that bothered me a lot. miniatures are a replica of real life items, but when does blatant copying and infringing upon design and copyright start in our mini world? such is the dilemma i (we) constantly face when we try to sell our works.

Donut Box Printable available here

on the one hand, much of what i make for my mini house is what i generally love in my real world life. so why wouldn't i want to include it in my mini world? but as you all know, it's super hard to get a mini replica, for an affordable price, as the actual manufacturers don't make them! Re-ment was a great source of pleasure for me, their collaborative work with Sanrio and Disney (or maybe they just purchased copyrights, ionos) is stunning, but not everything fits into my 1:12 and 1:24 fantasies.

i avoid making such items cos it's hard to replicate accurately, even if it's for personal use. it draws a different sort of attention, which leads to temptation to selling more of it, which is a Bad Thing (tm). in making more and more minis, i have found that i personally enjoy making my own take on things, especially when it comes to packaging, food designs etc. food and fashion are non-copyrightable (in -most- parts of the world, i was so surprised to find out about this).  surprised? so was i way back when i found out about it via


i don't recall how i came about this link, probably while watching TED videos on youtube way back when. it was about then that i stopped taking requests for copyrighted works, or started adding my little touches to try and be different from the typical foodie items. of course i would still make food items that are wildly popular or trendy (laduree items, minus the logos etc. cos logos are still copyrighted) cos they're fun to make, i like them, and they sell well. such is life, i still have bills to pay :(

being a maker of mainly miniature food items, i have long come to terms with keeping away from sticky (haha) copyright issues by avoiding the direct replication of logos and packaging etc. besides, making the same stuff over and over again is BORING~! i picked up more than a tip or two from the video, that is, make something NEW and too difficult to copy. that way, not only do i explore new ways of doing things, i also come up with new and fresh ideas (to me anyway) or, improvements upon old ways and ideas by adapting them into modern twists and takes on traditional items and foods.

so where do we draw the line in this 'art world' of ours? i don't know if i can start calling myself an 'artisan', and am far from becoming an 'artist'. these are labels i'd rather not put on myself while i'm still learning the craft. though i know that the learning doesn't ever end....XD

after thinking heavily and struggling about all the copyright/copycat stuff, and the few recent incidences in my circle of friends and acquaintances, i decided to write a little on this touchy topic. i'm not yet ready to go all out and plaster everything i do and make with my name (though i have been doing that only to raise a bit of profile hehhee), but part of having this blog is not just to chart my progress, i like to think i'm also sharing with newcomers a different side to making and selling miniatures, perhaps they can take with them a little more knowledge, and avoid certain pitfalls and heartaches that i've experienced.

it has been a long and painful transition for me, having to change my mindset from that of a 'hobbyist' to a 'seller'. thanks for being kind to me, listening, caring and sharing along the way.


(i promise, the next post will be more interesting than me whining/ranting, or touting my works)

((ok i'll still be touting my works, heck that's what this blog is for....i think. *confused*))


  1. I read about that copyright incident on another blog. It's disheartening to see a fellow artist cyber bully another artist (and her fans) just to protect his investment. Art in general is a copy of something, inspired by something. That person was too narrow minded. However, I'd go crazy if someone copied a gadget or an operating system that I invented... but probably not for a wall decor...

  2. Hi Kai :) yea i am really upset by such things. it seems that many people are too quick to defend their own copyright, not quite understanding what the copyright actually covers. I'm all for defending ones creative rights, like you, on my end, i'd defend my rights too, only if it is -within- my rights.

    i tend to keep away from drama, this is probably the closest to any controversial matter i'd blog about, but some things are -not- best left unsaid. the TED video gives one more to think about than just what i can do as an individual.

  3. Well said!!! But ya know that no matter how you present this, the problems and drama will never go away :( Can't control what others think and do...I think that the best we can do individually is to resolve this within ourselves and abide by it :)

    On a lighter note, lots to write...will do so tomorrow! Oyasumi :))))

  4. Hey there sweets =0) You've really got me thinking on this one.

    I may be way off base and not understanding a back story here but I thought I'd throw in my two pence worth. I suppose from the perspective of miniaturists trying to capture something life-sized, we're forced (because of the void in the market) to replicate..with or without the consent of the original designer. I can't imagine huge corporations being concerned with someone miniaturizing their product unless they also produced miniature versions and were losing out on sales. If IKEA (for example) don't produce miniature furniture then the demand for modern miniatures will inevitably be supplied by hobbyists/artisans. I do think, however, that it would be totally wrong if someone blatantly stole say the 'Snowfern Clover' name, printed it on your design of box and tried to copy your mini goodies (if that was even possible) I think there should be an acknowledged respect for makers and their original designs. But until modern furniture manufacturers get into the miniature market then I'm afraid it's open season for me =0~

  5. Cindy- you wrote this post so well!
    Keep doing what you are doing because it is so entertaining.
    The business side of everything is colored in monochromatic tones and shades whereas the art part of designing and creating- that part makes up for the testing, hours of labor and the costs involved.

  6. I definately think that you have every right to call yourself an 'artisan'. Some definitions - craftsperson - one that make things by hand - a person that makes a distinctive product. These and other definitions all fit. I'm sure many people have considered you that for a long time.

  7. Alison~~! yea i know, so this is part of how i resolve the matters within myself.

    what i like is that, amidst the murkiness, there are some pretty clear lines drawn on what we -can- and -cannot- (should/should not?) do. so maybe this will be helpful too for those who are unsure. although it may only be relevant to 'functional' items, so it gets murky from there on...*gets confused all over again*

    AHHHHH can't wait to get all this frustration and tension out on clay :P time to wake the bf up for work! ;)

  8. Pepper :) *warm hugs* i saw that you probably figured out who gave me the impetus to write 'seriously' about this.

    i'm so glad you added your views on this. for me, even if it were made available by the original manufacturer, i might still not purchase it either because it's unaffordable or difficult to obtain (you know how minis are fragile, shipping stuff over here is always a risk i hate taking).

    another take on this is an 'educational' one, i personally enjoy the process of figuring out and making the item (not the same as reverse engineering, i often do not have an actual physical item to refer to while building, i'm sure it's the same for you).....the pleasure of finding things out (thank you Feynman!) is one that cannot be purchased.

    *feels slightly embarrassed that i have so much to say about this topic*

  9. lol Amber, @entertaining thanks, i think? XD

    the business world...even in small scale, is a *@#$& to navigate.

    c'est la vie :(

  10. Hi Mary! oops I missed your comment, it must have come in while i was replying....those labels...i think it's something i've avoided because i wasn't sure what i wanted to do with this hobby, but now, i have a...less murky idea ;)

    i don't think i produce enough consistent, good work yet to consider myself an artisan, but it would indeed be flattering if people do consider me one. maybe someday i'll grow into it :)

  11. Oh, you're definitely an artisan, no doubt about that! Your work is amazing! :-)


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