My artwork was traced by an artist who turned my custom designs into embroideries. She was not just inspired by my designs, but copied every flower placement, vine, and leaf from my custom pieces. She did not have permission from me to do this.
Around the time of October 14-17, major art sites like Colossal, Bored Panda, Fubiz, SoSuperAwesome, Mental Floss, and countless others were posting her work without mention that I was the creator of those designs. It took about 1-2 days before I was made aware, and by then the damage was already done. Bored Panda's Facebook post received approximately 10k likes and 2k shares. Colossal also had 10k likes and 5k shares. This artist made upward of $1000 in just a few days on her etsy (off just my designs) before I had the Etsy legal team shut it all down.
My main goal was to make sure the sales stopped (they are no longer listed), but it killed me to see comments on these art sites from people praising this girl for making art that was "so unique". I messaged all the art sites in regards to this and received a huge mix of responses...some I never saw coming.
Sosuperawesome on tumblr reacted immediately and took down the plagiarized art, reposted my tumblr post on plagiarism, personally apologized to me, and then posted some of my art. This went above and beyond my expectations, and I commend them for sticking up for artists. They give me hope that there really is a loving community for artists, and I will forever be a fan.
On the other side, Colossal took days to respond after completely ignoring messages from my friends, followers, and myself. They finally updated their site post (I'd link but I don't want to give them site clicks), but only stated that the work in question was "inspired" by me. I don't know how blatant plagiarism equates to inspiration, but that was apparently their take on that. I quickly emailed them to express my disappointment with the update, and I received an email that included this line,
"I feel the designs [from the embroidery artist] are original enough and in a different medium, and the artist herself communicated/admitted to us that she did in fact use your work as reference. We've updated the post accordingly." - Colossal
This makes me sad. To steal someone's designs and make it in a different medium does not justify originality. Changing the medium does not change the copyright infringement. She did not just reference my art, but traced it almost 100%. He also expressed to me that reporting on plagiarism was out of scope of what they do. I also had Bored Panda privately message me to say they don't condone plagiarism, yet none of these sites seemed interested in the main party being effected: me. None (except for sosuperawesome) updated their Facebook posts where most of the damage occurred, or made new posts of my art. Very few apologized to me.
Why is plagiarism so taboo? Why is it so easy for the public to recognize something as being a blatant copy, yet the big guys at Bored Panda and Colossal want nothing to do with it? How can you say you support artists when you let this injustice occur?
At this point I just feel broken. The past few days have been an anxiety ridden nightmare and I've barely been able to eat or sleep. I'm ready for this to be over and have ceased communication with Colossal and the others as I don't believe they will be of further help.
I do want to say thank you so incredibly much to my friends, family, and followers for being so supportive. You guys are the community that truly matter. You saw an injustice and made your voices heard. I will forever appreciate this. For everyone who shared my Facebook post, thank you from the bottom of my (floral) heart.
EDIT: I wanted to add that I wish no ill will towards the girl who used my designs and my hope is that she blossoms as an artist, creates her own unique works, and gets to do what she loves. I think her embroideries are beautifully made, but the harm came from the online response her works received. Without the social media response this would have been a relatively quick and private matter. I think it's important as artists for us to be careful with our reference photos, and in doubt always ask the artist! I know it's hard and perhaps I've made the same mistakes, but at the very least I think it's a lesson we can take into account when putting new art out there for the world to see.