Creativity Tip: Great Artists Steal (and also can you sell what you make from tutorials)

Good artists borrow; great artists steal."

In the video I talk about Cat Bennett’s book, The Confident Creative and a quote that struck me from that book.

“Good artists borrow; great artists steal.” ~ Picasso

I go into detail about what that means to me.  As someone who teaches online, my hope that is you take what you learn from me and run with it.  Don’t create the jewelry exactly how I create it.  Use it as inspiration, learn techniques and create your own expression of yourself.

Be yourself.  Express yourself.  We want to see your expression in your own artwork, not a copy of what you saw someone else do!

When you’re first starting, it may be a lot of copying.  You may get exactly the materials I use and make exactly the jewelry piece I made.  But once you start learning and conquering techniques my hope is that you start changing it up, experiment, explore and find your own voice.

That brings us to a similar topic and one that has been on the minds of a couple of my readers lately:

Can I sell the jewelry I make from tutorials?

Before I say anything on the subject, I want to first say I am not an attorney and nothing I write here should be construed as legal advice.

I highly suggest that if this is a concern, you get some legal advice from an IP attorney (intellectual property) or copyright attorney.

If you look for answers to this question on the internet what you will find is a big mess and a lot of differing opinions.  Copyright law also varies country to country as well.

For Emerging Creatively Tutorials (me):

For all of my paid tutorials, eWorkshops, eBooks, eCourses, etc., you can make anything in any of those products freely without crediting me and do whatever you like with the the products, including selling.

(You’ll find that information on the sales page where you purchase the product and also in the PDF of the product itself.)

For my free tutorials (including any free tutorials you find on my website and ECT TV), you can make those for personal use or to give as a gift without any credit to me.  If you’re selling them, then you must credit me.

The tutorials themselves including photographs and instructions may not be distributed in any way.  You cannot give them away for free, you cannot resell them, you can’t use a single photo separately, and you cannot teach the techniques without my written permission.  You can share one photo of the finished product with a link back to my tutorial on your blog.  (And you can read all of my policies here for more details.)

Having said that, a lot of the tutorials I share for free are more techniques that basically are building blocks for creating jewelry.  So even though I have all those rules to protect myself, if it’s something like making a wire wrapped bead link, that’s something that tons of people do when making wire wrapped jewelry.  I completely expect you to use that technique without ever mentioning me anywhere whether you learned it on my website or in a paid eCourse.

Let me give you an example:

Chunky Rose Quartz Necklace

This is the Chunky Rose Quartz Necklace.  It’s a beautiful necklace that has unique aspects to it.  If you make this necklace following the step-by-step instructions and use all the materials I use ending with your necklace looking exactly like mine, then my policy would not allow you to sell that piece without crediting me.

However, if you learned to make a fun new wire wrapped link and then used that to make other jewelry that’s different than the necklace I showed you how to make, then I would say that’s completely acceptable!  Make it for yourself, your friends or even sell it.

That is exactly what I hope you do!  I hope you learn a technique and then make your own unique piece of jewelry with it!!

Now, as far as the tutorial itself goes, you cannot use the tutorial, my photos or words in anyway without asking me first.  (And yes, there are a couple of places that do share my tutorials and you may have even found me that way that do, in fact, have my permission to share my tutorials.)

Other places you may get tutorials from:

In most cases you’ll find that if you learn a technique and use it in a way that what you learned is just kind of a part of a larger piece, that there is no problem with selling those jewelry pieces.

However, always check first before selling.  Check the website or just send an email and ask.  (Frankly, they will be thrilled that you asked!)

A lot of people who sell tutorials do not allow you to sell the products you make from them.  Same with free tutorials you find online.

When you purchase a tutorial, it should say specifically when you buy it if it cannot be used to make things to sell.  You should see that before you actually purchase it.

How to actually credit:

Another question I had is how to actually go about crediting a person as the inspiration for the jewelry you’re selling.

Online:

Online it’s easy.  You can simply say the design was inspired by so-and-so and link to the tutorial.  You can do this wherever you’re selling:  your website, etsy, etc.

Craft Shows:

This is where it gets more confusing.  You may only have a little price tag and it’s difficult to acknowledge on it.

The best solution I can come up with is to make your price tag large enough to actually credit the person.

An alternative solution could be to make a sign and place it with those designs that inspired by a certain person.

Why?

I have seen a lot of discussion and people who get angry about, “Why do they sell or share it if they don’t want people to make it and sell what they make?”

I can tell you why I do.  I want you to be inspired.  I want to teach you techniques, show them to you in context of a jewelry piece and then you use it as inspiration to make your own new unique design.

I want you to express yourself and your own creativity and I want to help you learn techniques and tricks for you to be able to do that.

Like I said in the video, “A great artist takes inspiration from others but stays true to oneself.”  (Cat Bennett, The Confident Creative)

If you’re following exactly what you find in someone’s tutorial, step-by-step, sure, it can be fun and it’s an excellent way to learn for sure, but it’s not an expression of yourself.  And that is what we all want to see, especially if you’re selling your pieces.

I hope that inspires you to take inspiration from other people’s (and my) work and their tutorials, but to come up with your own expression from that inspiration.

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