There have been times in my career that I have been very protective of my designs. I have had experience designing very marketable products that made my small art business grow and the work I designed was sought after. At the time, it was exciting, exilerating and a feather in my cap. But I remember being overly concerned about someone or some company coming along and knocking off the designs I created. That was 25 years ago, so I was still learning and still maturing.
Now, yes, it is business smart to protect and copyright your work. However, I was in a mindset that I was consumed with not quite worry but concerned, for sure. I remember feeling not at peace. But always this push to be different, ahead of the curve, never to follow anyone and never share my secrets.
Well, it took it’s tole on me. Because it stole my peace. In the name of protecting my designs, I would loose the joy of creating.
Recently, I was faced with that ol’ feeling again. It happened during a class I was teaching. I thought I had come to terms with sharing my ideas, teaching and encouraging others. I mean, it’s what I should do….because I can’t be stingy all my life. I can’t go to the grave with the very thing God has gifted me with. (I didn’t have God in my life way back then). Even though He blessed me tremendously, I didn’t realize it. But now I do.
I was teaching a class to a new student. She really grasped the technique quickly, I noticed. And I love it when my students get it. The second class she came to, she told us all how she ran home and made 5 more just like I had taught her. I thought that was great. I felt good that I had encouraged her. The following week I got to see her work. It was amazing. It blew me away. I was very impressed. But this little ugly voice deep down inside of me was saying ‘how could she do that to me’? ‘The nerve of her copying my ideas and boasting about her work’. Yea…Me… I was no longer proud of my accomplishments of encouraging her or teaching her well. I was concerned about my designs and her taking the credit. If she knew what was going through my head? My gosh.
Now, you have to know how embassased I feel admittting such a confused state of affairs in my head. I offered the class, people pay me for my knowledge and skills and I end up feeling like I got the rug pulled out from under me.
And so my internal chatter went back and forth all that day. I scolding myself. I could not even bare to talk about this feeling of being threatened because it was embarrassing. Until I heard a voice. Very loud and direct. The voice said,” YOU DID NOT DESIGN THAT, ROBIN. THAT IS MY DESIGN” I knew right away who it was. As clear as day. God.
And when I heard HIm say it, I was immediately relieved of all the turmoil in my head. I repented and said “You’re right God. I am sorry. It is your designs that inspire me. It’s all your’s.”
I am not perfect. I have stumbled over myself many times. But that is how we grow and learn. I love teaching classes. I love sharing new ideas. And when others want to purchase a piece from me or learn my technique, it is very flattering. But that is not the reason I do what I do. It’s because God, Jesus, loves me and has given me the perfect gift, the gift of Art, Creativity,the Handmade life. He knew I would be good at it. And it is now my ministry. I am free to give freely. Folks who desire to learn (or copy) from me is the sincerest form of flattery.