Friday, October 3, 2008

Copied to Death

Recently, a great article about taxidermy jewelry and accessories was posted on the Coilhouse Blog. The article featured three amazing, praise worthy artists: Disce Mori, Custom Creature Taxidermy, and Purevile. All of whom I love!!! The comment forum that followed was a positive dialog between people that I respect and admire like Jessica Joslin, Suzanne of Wurtzeltod...In that forum another designer, "Loved to Death" was highly recommended. Just then my blood began to boil and I followed up with a very emotional but Not Unwarranted Response. I'd like to take the opportunity to apologize AGAIN to Zoetica and the Coilhouse staff, and any of those offended. It wasn't my intention to dirty the otherwise positive comment forum. Looking back, I realize it was inappropriate to air my grievences torward Loved to Death in that Forum.

However, this is NOT an apology to Loved to Death. And I'd actually like to take a moment to clearly explain my views and opinions about this matter. I opened my shop on Etsy about a year ago. It was a way to test the marketplace before I actually launch my website. Little did I know how many wonderful friends I'd make! It's been a very rewarding experience. I work very hard to offer items that are unique to my shop and to Etsy, whether they are handmade or antiques. Perhaps then, you might understand why I was upset when another shop opened on Etsy offering items so similar to my own. When Loved to Death opened their shop (April 2008) with their Taxidermy Mice Dioramas, I was excited at first to see what else they would be offering. I had long since been coveting the Taxidermy Mice Dioramas of Jeanie M for D.L. & Co. Now Jeanie M. wasn't the first to display taxidermy in this manner, but inspired by 16th-19th centuries, Victorian grotesque and anthropomorphic taxidermy art. Jeanie WAS however the FIRST person revision the anthropomorphic mice of Walter Potter and succesfully bring these Modern Interpretations to the marketplace. Douglas Little offered them to the mainstream through his Gothic Couture design house D.L. & Co, which at the time was being sold exclusively at Barney's NYC.

Meanwhile, in my own shop I had successsfully sold several Vintage Grouse Claw Brooches. I'm a huge fan of taxidermy jewelry that adorned traditional costumes of cultures across the globe. Being a student and Teacher of the Occult Sciences I'm particularly interested in the Supernatural powers that these talismans allegedly possess. I have worked with Chicken feet for many many years, creating Voodoo inspired protection amulets. When I came across a dead Crow for the first time I didn't think twice about pulling several tail feathers from it. As you know, I ended up making jewelry with the feet. (I live across the from a large city park. Humboldt Park is a sanctuary to many species of plants, birds and animals...complete with a lagoon.) I was very excited to offer my Crow Amulets in my Etsy shop. Each one sold immediatly...and I was sent many requests of when I'd have more! Since the feet I used were found...I had no idea when more would become available to me. At that time Loved to Death saved me in their favorites. This was in May...less than one month later, Loved to Death launched their Taxidermy accessories line (June 2008) with two items. Below you can see my jewelry pictured on the left and theirs on the right.
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I was flooded with a myriad of emotions...the designs were so similar and no other seller on Etsy was offering Taxidermy jewelry. Shortly after that, I recieved a Myspace friend request from them with a backhanded compliment on my bird foot design. I politely accepted their "friend request" but honestly exspressed my concern about the items they were selling, admitting I was quite disheartened at first by the fact that they were creating items unique to my shop and to Etsy. I also said that I had since gotten over it and I wished them good luck in their endeavors in spite of the way I was feeling. However, I was still suspicous of their motives...I knew they were just being friendly because they wanted to tap into my social network and use my comment section as AD space. Moving on to August, I went about business as usual... I was excited to introduce my Black Forest Relic Collections to my shop. I listed an antique ornamental medal meant to be worn on the coat, AGAIN...less than a month later on Sep 6th to be exact they recreated a similar design and added it to their own collection. Also in August, I listed an AMAZING antique hunting charm...a partial skull with little teeth and fangs. It was part of a set I offered. I was really excited to have it available...a unique treasure from 1870's! And AGAIN, Loved to Death quickly sourced out the materials, recreated the piece and added it to their "signature" collection...again this was less than one month later!!!! See pics below...LTD's knock offs shown on the right.

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The similarities are uncanny, don't you think? Again LTD recreated these items in less than 1 month's time and added them to their collection. I was this point! I disregarded any thoughts of this all being coincidental. I immediatly attempted to contact my "friends" on MySpace. But alas, the cowards had already deleted me...I sent them a message anyway, confronting them about the issue. That didn't go very well to say the least...they went on to offer a hoof pendant. I've sold various antique hoofs successfully in my shops. Again, here's a pic to illustrate my point.

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During all of this I met an Amazing Designer who's couture taxidermy jewelry line is in it's 4th season. It's being sold in the most prestigious curiosity shops such as Urban Flower and Gold Bug. She's a great person and has worked very hard for recognition in our community and the marketplace. As it turns out, much of their line is knocked-off from her original designs including their bio which was copied almost verbatim from her old website! She was grief stricken about the whole thing. She said she'd prefer that her business name not be mentioned in the same sentence as Loved to Death, so I will leave her name out of this blog, respectively.

I thought however, this situation should be aired out publicly because they might copy YOU next...they have no shame! They have already ripped off soo many. Out of all of these artists, including myself, not one claims the ideas to be their own. Everyone sites the Victorian era, Cabinets of Curiosity, Wunderkammer, Circus Sideshows, ect... as sources of inspiration. All of these people work hard to bring fresh ideas to the modern marketplace. Julia deVille for example has her signature mouse trophy pin. She was the first to bring this idea forth into the modern's one of her signature pieces. It's an awesome idea! I could easily copy this design...or those of other artists. I could easily source out jewelry findings and mice and mass produce the design my own. But I don't do this out of respect for other people's hard work. Loved to Death doesn't care though! Check out their cheap knock off on the right...and they have the nerve to make statements like "This is truly one of a kind piece" or "This is a very unique detailed piece from Loved To Death" They are trying to bank on and brand other people's ideas. I also spoke to Julia who was already aware of the matter and she is pissed!

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I know this happens in business all the time...but as I explained to Loved to Death "This is not Starbuck's vs. Seattle's Best or McDonald's vs. Burger King were talking about here....this is a small community of artists...have some respect!" Which brings me to my next point...they have no respect for their customers either.

They state "All animal parts in our jewelry and accessories line come from recycled sources and have all been professionally preserved.No animal has EVER been killed for use in our work." Recycled, really? No, the fact of the matter is that the animals and birds they use are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being sold to human consumers…labs, pet stores, ect. The ones that don’t make it are skinned or freeze dried and sold as curios to places like Necromance, the Bone Room, or the many online sources. And that's just fine... but I wouldn’t sell such items to my customers and then state “No animal has EVER been killed for use in our work” That's downright misleading! People who deeply take to heart the welfare of animals would not want to purchase their jewelry if they knew the TRUTH. People who who are concerned with the ethics of animals are careful consumers who take all facts into consideration before consuming products in the not stating the facts you are not allowing them to make a decision based on truth, and that in my opinion is a violation of consumer rights!

So there it is...I won't be speaking of this matter again. So for all the questions I got regarding my statement on the Coilhouse blog forum, I think this about covers it!


littlerobot said...

Yours is the only place i've ever bought taxidermy jewellery from, and the reason is that i'm pretty much always suspicious of sources. I'm a vegetarian and as far as I know there's no certification for taxidermy which is accidental?? I know of some taxidermists who claim to only use roadkill but i'm still suspicious.

The reason your shop stands out to me is precisely because it has so many antique pieces. It's obvious just by looking at them. The metal looks old, hand made or manufactured with older processes, the offerings are rare. I don't mind buying antique taxidermy since i'm not funding any industry based on animal produce.

Anyway, your shop rules for so many reasons, you don't mass produce, you always have some pretty bizarre things turning up, you don't just have jewellery it's all kinds of strange things, i'm honestly amazed at how you find these things.

Anyway, I can see why it upset you. Afterall, you can only find one if you're lucky, while someone who makes copies can offer as many as people want. But I like to think quality always wins every time. x

Cynthia Thornton said...

I find this situation disheartening and irritating! I found your site accidentally, by googling 'relics', which are interesting and rare and magical. I think copying is at an all time high on Etsy and I think the moderators should do more to eliminate those lacking real skills. I've been in the jewelry business since '98 and have been knocked off more times than I can shake a stick at. In those events, I called my lawyer (yep, it happened often enough that I hired one) and I would send off a cease and desist letter, threatening a law suit. In your case, I think that would be the wrong thing to do (unless you have copyrights on the designs), getting it out there so the public knows is far better! Good job! Don't stop! Contact etsy, let them know copycats shouldn't get away with theft. Other folks don't, why should they? I was reading a forum and discovered there are many who think copying is ok, until you get caught and are forced to stop. Perhaps sending them a daily email, or posting the facts on your store will discourage them to continue. Its obvious they aren't afraid of any harm to there business! Give them reason to be afraid. Be the pain in the ass that will make folks stop and think before being an a**hole. Ok, sorry about getting frantic, but this crap happens to me and I flip out just hearing about. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Here's my site so you can see what I'm talking about (the hearts particularly get copied).

Loved To Death said...

Its ridiculous that we would even have to defend what we create but here we go...
As far as miss lavonas comments of copying her items that she has in her etsy shop i will just state her claims are completely ridiculous and honestly any normal person would recognize this the minute they see our shop.We responded to miss lavonas concerns in an email and honestly wont respond anymore to these completely ridiculous claims.Miss lavona is unfortunately coming from a place of trying to stomp out the competition by completely making up lies to try and eliminate someone that she sees as a threat to her BUSINESS. Miss Lavona has stated herself in an email to us that she is a business woman.we are ARTISTS. we make our art because it comes from things that truly inspire us. whether it be bavarian hunting relics or taxidermy or antique jewelry its all coming from inspiration for these amazing things that we collect and love. Thats the only explaination we are giving as far as miss lavonas copying claims because all this ranting and raving about us copying her and being "poseurs" (her words in an email to us and very childish for a 30+ woman) makes her look rather foolish.

To address miss lavonas slanderish claims that we are lying about getting animals from recycled sources. I would like to just know where she thinks she is getting her facts from about us and our sources? Could it be from your New friend who has a personal issue with us outside of any artworld? We have stated before on our etsy and our myspace and to anyone who asks that we get ALL of our recycled animals parts from a VERY known and professional source. We have alot of proof to back up the claims that we make in our listings and on our shop. I hope miss lavona has more proof if she plans on making such slanderish comments because it is something that can and will be pursued.


Really, I'm tired of arguing with you about business ethics. I'm not trying to stomp out the competion. In fact, I've started an Etsy Team called Cabinet of Curiosities for repectable Etsy sellers with like minded interests and inspirations...many of our Team members selling items made from taxidermy, bone, feathers, insects ect...I support honest people. I'm adding over a half a dozen more sellers to our team this weekend. Not only do I promote these merchants, I also buy and trade goods with them.

As for your VERY known and professional work at Necromance. I have bought from them by mail for over 10 years. They are an amazing source, but recycled...who are you kidding? Not even the owner would make such claims! I'm sorry to hear you work there. I wouldn't be surprised if you went snooping around the office to search for the owners business contacts and opened a shop of your own down the street.

You are not are PARASITES. Go ahead and make your cheap knock offs. I'm on to bigger and better things anyway. As for the many artists whose ideas you've stolen...they will continue to bring fresh ideas to the marketplace. Time will tell that Loved to Death is to the Taxidermy Arts like Forever 21, H&M, or Target are to the Fashion world.

I have nothing left to say to you along now, before a house falls out of the sky and lands on you!

Marya Zoya said...

Thank you SO MUCH for writing this blog! I have been harassed by LTD for MONTHS! Good to know it's just her personality to be the way she is... I thought it was person attack because of all the threats & harassment I was getting from her.

Anonymous said...

and still to this day Loved to Death is harassing other people who are "Copying" her art...What an idiot!

Anonymous said...

Amen! I have my own stories to tell about LTD....they truly are parasites.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this posting 2 yrs. too late. More than parasites, LTD, Audra and Brennen are bottom feeders who don't have a original thought or idea between the two of them. All they know is to steal everyone else's creativity and try to pass it off as their own. They are bullies in every sense of the word.