Monday, August 4, 2014

More thoughts on Copyright, and some personal rants

It has been a while since I've posted anything insightful with regards to miniature making, the hobby, and selling.

I have to admit that I no longer blog-surf with the frequency I used to. But there are a few blogs I still check in with when I have the time or attention span to do so. Pepper recently wrote a very insightful post regarding copyright, and the sharing of ideas.

I have zero clue as to who the accuser/accused are, but I'm pretty sure it is the same old boring story of some poopyhead who, due to some over-protective instinct (read: paranoia) or narcissistic inclination (read: big-headed) thinks they are the sole originator of some fantasticola technique or idea. Thus every other person must have copied their work. In the minifood world, this is so common, the nonsensical drama that rises from it disgusts me. I have written before on this blog about copyright,  and in my dA journal about how a donut is just a donut, a cupcake, just a cupcake. Big fat hairy deal. If those poopyheads are that good at what they do, they'd innovate, not start territorial wars. Tch.

Pepper has put it rather succinctly all the points I agree upon with regards to copyright, sharing of information and passing of techniques on to the following generations of miniaturists. I have a few thoughts on it, which explains this post.

(Actually,  spending too much time in bed due to a bout of food poisoning also has a lot to do with my rants here. Haw haw. Queen of TMI has struck again!)

I am often asked to reveal my techniques or to write tutorials,  as I have done so in the early days of this hobby. Well, at risk of sounding defensive,  here are my current reasons for -not- doing so:

- health. My health (or rather, poor health) was the main reason I stopped working full-time, and got bored enough to look for a new hobby -> miniature making. But the hobby grew into a way of earning enough to cover medical and other bills. My health has worsened over the years, and it limits the amount of time I am able to work on minis, or even stay at the computer. Which brings us to

- time. With the limited amount of time I am able to work,  I keep myself busy with commission work, preparing for events, and trying to keep myself visible online amidst the very many other miniaturists who do far more excellent work than I.

It has also pushed me to decide how better I should limit my time online, which accounts for why I have also reduced my social networking interactions for it just comes with too much drama and distracts from what is important to me. And right now, it is...

- money. Living and medical expenses aside, I have a wedding to plan, and a mortgage to look forward to.

I also think money is also the main reason for all the quibbling and petty online squabbles. I never quite understood why people would waste so much energy on -not- miniature making! But when I started selling, not just to cover material costs, but to cover daily living expenses, I understood a little better all the need for protectiveness.

I personally have had my own photos floating around with either no credit to me, or credited as their own works. Flattering as it may be, this can be misleading, or even downright fraudulent. And once, when I asked to have at least a name credit, was thrown back a threat to have my photo taken down and never "promoted" again. How is it "free promotion" if my name was never mentioned anywhere in the photo (my watermark was cropped out) or in tags?!?!??? Which explains why I have been watermarking a lot more. Sigh.

 Also, close friends of mine have had their artwork and images blatantly sold under the thief's name, so it brought the issue of copyright infringement a little closer to home. which led me to think about

- creativity. Although miniature making frequently imitates real life items, there are many artists who work in miniature scale, and not just faithful reproduction of life-sized works. For me,  I wanted to improve beyond mere replicas, to spend time exploring new ways of presenting food, learning new skills (only reason why miniaturemaking has kept me interested for so long!), and most importantly, creating new works.

Writing tutorials or rehashing techniques which can be found via books or online searches, it all seems too time-consuming and not very satisfying for me. It takes time away from my creating, but I still do blog some of my processes, inspiration and materials when I can remember to do so. But what really upsets me sometimes is

- guilt. Although I do occasionally get a curt request for tutorials, I tend to ignore them, but some requests or comments irked me, in that they either came across as demanding, or more recently, where I was chided for coming across as a grouch when people ask me questions pertaining to miniature making.

How does guilt factor into this? Well, for one, I have this ridiculous (and long since abandoned) Catholic upbringing which instilled an unreasonable guilt complex in me that I am still struggling to shed. I actually DO feel guilty for not replying all questions since I (used to) strive to be a nice person ALL THE DAMN TIME.

So what did I do? I tried to be as clear as possible with my tips and tricks posts, but didn't want to further burden myself with obligations to reply more questions, and yet,  it seems I can still be criticized for sharing. Which in turn cascaded into me feeling guilty for not being as open and generous and friendly as a perfect person should be. And for being fat. You know, typical neurotic crap that I am. And I really don't need this, so I simply.  Stopped. Sharing. Because it seemed sharing was never enough,  people always demanded more. More than I wanted to, more than what my limited time allowed me to. More than what they wanted to pay for (which was nothing to begin with). But that got me to decide that all I wanted was

- happiness. It is really difficult to feel happy when physically, I am restricted by pains that 4 different painkillers don't seem to be enough,  where surgery seems to be the only solution, but it comes at a huge price (not just financially). When anxiety is a constant hum, and depression can knock ambition and will out of me at any time.

BUT I am very lucky to have a small and strong support network.  I am happiest spending time with family,  friends and fiancĂ©.  Playing with my dolls. Making stuff for my dolls. Making a sale. Making miniatures for customers. Receiving feedback and customer photos. Knowing that my work has not stagnated. Working on new exciting (not-for-profit) projects with Asuka. Playing with Eva. Looking for new personal projects to work on.

As always, I hadn't meant for this to become so personal, but as I've always maintained, this blog started as a personal account of my journey in miniature making, and here is where it has taken me.

Personal grouses aside, if you are just starting out on miniatures, or thinking of working towards selling your works, sharing tutorials etc., here are some of the things I know now that I wish or hope I knew then:

- it is okay to share. It is okay too if you don't wish to. Work with what you are comfortable with, and not because someone else coaxed/coerced/threatened you to. I learnt through people sharing, and like to think I shared in turn. It is nice to pay it forward. But I also didn't cave in when people "bribed" me to reveal techniques.  That's just slimy.

- credit your sources, where applicable.  I do it because I think it would help those who are new and would like to look deeper into the craft, widen their scope. Also, I have found very many influential artisans/artists this way, through recommendations from those who enjoy the same styles and influences I have.

- learn to discern between constructive and distracting criticism. This was really tough for me in the beginning, I always thought my work was crap and tried to follow every piece of advice thrown my way. Bbbbzzzzt. I'm still working on how to accept criticism and suggestions gracefully, and not go into knee-jerk defensive mode!

- innovate, create, don't imitate. When first starting out, it is inevitable to learn through mimicry. But in order to improve and differentiate from the throngs of upcoming miniaturists, create a distinction by drawing upon real life instead of favourite artisanal works. Get ready to trash or recycle plenty of clay as you practice. At first, I was so scared of wasting clay, but I settled within myself that it was my learning fee since I did not attend lessons.

- self-assess. Document your work and don't be afraid to try to re-master old works. I used to think "this is good enough!" But there is always room for improvement.  So I sometimes go through my archives and try to re-make old works with new techniques.

- learn to say NO. Know when some requests are unreasonable,  or if people are friendly for ulterior motives. Sad, but true story, I have been burnt by people whom I thought were friends. Turns out I was just an "information counter" to them. Works great if you are not as finicky about friendships as I am.

-DON'T TRUST EVERYTHING I SAY. because I am just another stranger on the Internet.

(Hope I don't regret posting this in the morning, but good news is the rumbly tummy seems to have settled as I distracted myself from it by writing this rambly post hahaha)



  1. Hey sweetie, this is a great post. It gives the perspective of the seller - the beginner- the creative all in one. You make a lot of valid points and I imagine you have a ton of experience to call on with people wanting to know the secrets of Snowfern. It's a tricky thing when you need to protect an income. But like I said in my post, if someone wants to know they'll find out somewhere...part experimenting, part mimicking.
    I hope the ickyness passes soon. I miss your posts, but I'd rather have you well =0) X

    1. Hey Pepper! I love your thought-provoking posts, this one is on a topic I used to think about pretty often. I always maintain that what we do isn't rocket science! As you've put it very nicely, we aren't re-inventing the wheel, it all boils down to experience and practice, anyone can eventually figure out every miniature-making trick, if they persevere at it long enough.

      You're spot on with regards to the experiment/mimicry, that's how I, and I believe, everybody (who's good enough to sell) starts out! I often encourage people to do some reading and refer them to my links page, the 'secrets' are all just a few clicks away! It grates at me when people expect to be spoonfed, uh oh, I might have woken up the rantmonster :E /squishes it back down

      Which is why I love linking and crediting people who are generous, and patient (like you!) with tutorials...saves me time from explaining how I do what I do, when someone else has already done it better than I ever could! XD

      Thank you, I think I've weathered the worst of it, I missed your posts too, and to be honest, I thought you had bought a 3D printer after seeing your updates in flickr, and am glad to read all your wonderful updates! Hope you're much better too, I know you've been having a rough time too. Will email you soonish :D


    2. Oh, forgot to add, I'm not sure if I understood exactly the term "protect an income", but if it means worrying about people selling the same stuff I do, I don't think that's within one's control. Competition pushes creativity pushes more choice for the consumer, which in turn gives us more variety and a higher standard and availability of miniatures (as you've put it more eloquently in your post/replies!, yay Capitalism!), so I welcome it! Just as long as nobody is trying to pass my creations as theirs or sell under my name yada yada that's just...:S (but if that does happen, does it mean I'm FAYMOOSE ENOUGH TO COPY WAKAKAKAKA)

      please excuse the pre-breakfast delirium

  2. Brilliant post, I love it! It's a great addition to Pepper's, which was also brilliant

    1. Hi Evelyne, welcome to my blog! I snuck a peek at yours and am kicking myself for not having discovered it earlier O.O Yes, I am a huuuuge fan of Pepper's work, and it helps that she always makes so much sense (fangirlishness aside haha). I can get a little ranty, please don't mind me.

      *goes off to read your blog!

    2. Thank you too for visiting my blog Cindy! :)

      Oh, but I didn't see this post as 'ranty', I truly appreciate your input. I agree with your point of view. You added to Peppers insight. Yes, we must respect copyright, but I often see people going a little paranoid over it. And, on the other side of the spectrum, some people are totally clueless and have no boundaries. Your posts complete each other beautifully! Bookmarked!!! :)

  3. Hang in there! As someone with health issues and a home based business I totally understand. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Thank you for being willing to share. I mainly sell homemade soap, but I LOVE anything tiny. (Sorry for shouting. ;) ) I am so grateful that I have somewhere to look for inspiration when making something for my little girl who also loves small things. Yes, I have gotten requests for my recipe for soap and knowing that this is my livelyhood I will share ingredients, but do not share the exact recipe. I believe as you do that you should take information and make it your own, adding your own flair and personality to the things you make. After all what is the point of handmade if it looks the same as everyone elses. ;) I love your work by the way!

    1. Hi Lois, thank you for commenting, and your encouragement :) I agree, the most important aspect to any skill is setting a strong foundation, which is the same across the board. It is the variations and improvements upon said foundations that set ones' work apart from the crowd!

      You do lovely work, I saw the half-and-half cake, WOW! Your girl is also very lucky to have a hands-on mom to shower her with miniatures :D

  4. Hi Cindy! I have admired your style of work for a very long time AND your humor and honesty in what you say and feel which is always refreshing.
    My feelings are that everyone has to start somewhere with something and it usually begins with trying to imitate those whose work we admire the most. However, this should only satisfy the true artist temporarily and not forever, the true artist will Desire at some point to want to strike out on their own. That is when they take what they have learned from others, and learned through their own success and failures and remix it all into something unique to themselves. Whether they share it or not, their skills will continue to evolve and refine and redefine their work. Eventually, they will have a string of their own imitators and admirers and thus the process renews itself all over again.
    But for those who just want to copy.... they will never do anything but copy which is a shame.
    Not everyone is gifted with creativity, which has to be very frustrating. Regardless, I think it is common courtesy to acknowledge the source whenever possible. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." The Golden Rule....... should RULE!


    1. *waves enthusiastically at Elizabeth* Hii!! Yes, I think copying is part of the learning process, but it is a hard habit to shake. You've put it very nicely, i especially like "learned through their own success and failures and remix it all into something unique to themselves." :)

  5. Fair comment, indeed. Same happens inside the 3D CG world for me.

    1. Wow I thought only fellow miniaturists or collectors read my blog, thanks for commenting :)


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