Don’t steal our work.

You know what’s cool about being artists and loving art? We don’t steal art. Not everyone works this way. We are releasing our new “Fibre Animals” line of mugs and I’m apprehensive because theft is a real thing in our lives right now. Since November of last year, we’ve been dealing with someone in our community that pretended to want a wholesale order for one of our product lines, and then she went off and reproduced our work on cheapo mugs ordered online. She also went one step further and put her own name and website underneath our design on her mugs which violates the law even further. The first thing was bad, and the second made our blood boil over here at Chez Chasing Fire. We asked her to stop via a formal cease and desist and we were… naïve? and assumed she’d complied with our copyright protection. We were wrong. She is still selling our designs on her mugs. We sent a second cease and desist AGAIN giving her the option to a) stop selling/giving away/exchanging reproductions of our work or b) we’re taking her to court to protect our copyright and we want all royalties from all sales of these illegal reproductions of our work since she lied to us in 2016, and hey, for being a dick, we’ll take all of our legal costs covered. The law is on our side. We’re unsure which she will choose but we’re ready to fight. She’ll be at the same show as we will this weekend, and we can’t wait to see if she’s still selling stolen designs. She knows what she’s doing. She’s admitted to knowing and believes that she can steal whatever she wants and profit from it. The cease and desist letters point out Canadian law and how she’s violating it but, she just doesn’t care. She is fine with stealing from artists, thinking we have no repercussions. In a way, she’s correct because it is an expensive road paying for lawyers and court costs. In the end, we think it will be worth it because her behaviour is ludicrous, and just plain disgusting and insulting to artists everywhere. She claims to be a “fair trade” vendor and I question the truth behind that because we, as artists, have never been treated so dishonestly in our six years in ceramics. Her website claims she’s fair trade and “conscious”. That second part I agree with. She’s very conscious of what she’s doing and that it’s dishonest, because she does not care as long as none of her customers know. She has backed off on the fair trade claim on and off over the past nearly two years that this boondagle has been going on, sometimes claiming to be a “thoughtful” trader but she’s got it plastered around that she’s fair trade again. She’s not fair at all by any definition of that word. She has been sneaking around, trying to find wholesale deals for this work that is ours, taking the work to markets before and since the cease and desist and hiding it where it isn’t seen or photographed openly by instagrammers: That’s how she got into trouble in the first place. Someone photographed her booth and we saw that she’d made copies of our work. To add insult to injury, it was just months after she’d claimed she was so excited to work with us to become one of our wholesale retailers. We had been excited too. Until we realized that we’d been swindled. It was a kick in the gut. To be clear, our designs come from three sources: 1. Us. We’re creative people with hilarious and inspirational ideas. Many of these are discarded because it turns out they aren’t so hilarious or inspirational after all. Some come to fruition. We have sketchbooks and whiteboards and napkins full of drawings and written ideas. Jay and I (Cara) have been married for 19 years partially because we inspire each other and work well collaboratively… (and partially because no one else understands our need to communication in song lyrics). We make things from our ideas. For example, I’ve been working on a series for almost a year that’s about to finally become something other than watercolour sketches, and it will probably get reworked and redone and go through the ringer, and it might never be shown to anyone outside of our studio but it’s an idea that is coming to life. It’s how creative work is made. 2. Our friends and family. Jason’s mom and my mom are amazing artists. Jason’s mom Cheryl did the illustrations for the Stampede Series that was available during Calgary Stampede 2017. They were original drawings that were put into clay, and it was a fabulous collaboration between them. My mom does these amazing tangled drawings on reverse that are breathtaking in clay. Denise from Poppy Yarn & Fibre keeps sending me the funniest animal puns and I have actually put tea through my nose then I send her sketches and she sends me back feedback like “BIGGER EARS” or “it needs more sass” and then I do that. We are having so much fun. People might love what we come up with, and I hope so because it’s ours to unleash (hahaha) on the world. 3. Other artists. We pay other artists. We really do. We license drawings. We pay for textures and tools and commercial stamps. One of the parts of our most popular designs was from a Lethbridge artist – that we paid his fee to use – and he is super bombdiddlybomb smart. What we don’t do is STEAL. I even try to avoid pinterest and I don’t even follow potters on Instagram that I think are really similar to my aesthetic so I don’t accidentally copy someone else’s work. I want to be unique. Jason wants to be unique. We love our creative process. We love working collaboratively with each other and with other artists. We want people to have one of a kind things in their homes that make them happy. Stealing other people’s designs and slapping them on cheap crap isn’t just illegal, it’s an insult. I wonder…