Supporting handmade is important to me. I used to sell handmade goods on Etsy and may again someday. My mom sells her crochet and knitting on Etsy. My sister sells baby quilts. (Yes, the creativity thing runs in the family.) Supporting other creative people is a wonderful way to give back to the creative community and keep it thriving.
When I consider making home decor and art purchases, I like to look at the small handmade businesses first. Often you can find better quality, more original designs from handmade sellers. I almost always DIY my own pillows, but earlier this year I wanted to save some time. I turned to Etsy and found some great pillows at an affordable price. Most recently, I bought two wooden art signs from Oh Dier, a local small business in my area.
I feel compelled to discuss DIYing things you see on Etsy. There has always been a level of controversy around Pinterest and people pinning others pictures without permission. Well, sometimes those pictures depict a product someone is selling. That should be a good thing, right? Usually it probably is. But, can I tell you how mad it makes me to follow a pin in the DIY category on Pinterest only to find out it is a product for sale on Etsy? At first, I am disappointed because I saw something neat that I thought was going to lead me to a tutorial on how to make it. Secondly, I feel bad for the Etsy seller whose products are being pinned with comments like “I want to try to make this”.
Just because you can DIY something, does not mean you should. I think there is a very fine line of being inspired by someone’s product and knocking it off because you do not want to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually supportive of knockoffs for items you could not otherwise afford. However, knocking off an original product from a handmade seller or small business is generally where I draw the line.
Let me explain what I mean by original product. By original I mean something artistic, something unique, something you have not seen elsewhere. I love all the handmade pillow makers, but if I make a pillow from the same fabric I would not consider that a knockoff. I am referring more to original designs, like jewelry or art.
I would urge you, even if you can make a product yourself, to consider supporting a handmade artisan who originated the idea and is trying to make a living from it. Could I have used a jigsaw to cut out the word hello from some wood and knocked off my beloved Oh Dier sign? Possibly, but instead I chose to support the original artisan. I chose to buy their art and support them.
Check out the rest of the posts in the DIY or Buy series here.
I think it is fine to try to make something you see on Etsy if buying that item is not in your budget, or if you want to make something for the sake of making it.
Pinterest is a wonderful tool for organizing your ideas, interests, and drawing inspiration. For example, it is so much easier than organizing magazine clippings. The originator of the ideas that are “pinned” is credited because the images link back to the original site. Furthermore, if I “pin” an Etsy item, other viewers to my Pinterest bulletin board will see it, and perhaps buy it themselves. It’s a great bit of publicity for the originator, and could even lead to more profits for the originator than if I had bought one item instead and told no one. In my opinion, Pinterest is a wonderful way to celebrate ideas with one another – with family, friends, and even new people who have similar interests.
Such good points Jess. You are right the pin helps promote the Etsy shop. Maybe if people just left off the comments like “I could make this better”, it would not bother me so much. Also, I think there is a huge difference if you are making something for personal use vs. copying their item and selling it.
I think you are right about it being like organizing magazine clippings or catalog clippings. I think the difference is it is so public and everyone can see your comments. I think some people forget that last part.
I am a very crafty person and often look to Etsy and craft sales for inspiration. I duplicate items I find but I may make something similar or inspired by it. For example, I happened to be in a local shop and saw handmade lamps made out of metal pipes and old glass electrical insulators. I happen to have a couple of insulators that I purchased at antique stores because I liked the shape and color and I planned to have them just sitting on a shelf. However, once I saw the lamps, I started thinking about how else I could light up the insulators. If I end up making something that uses light with my insulator, I don’t consider that knocking off the designer. I consider it taking inspiration from the designer.
BTW – I really like this DIY series.
Very good point. It is definitely a fine line between inspiration and knockoff. I think either way crediting the inspiration source is the best thing you can do.