I am a LONG LONG way off selling any bears, I may never even go into the commercial side of bear making, so this isn't really an issue yet, but it does really concern me.
**Sorry for the long post. Trying to properly explain myself**
I have read a lot lately about people feeling their copyright has been breached. (Some have been very blatant coping bears to the detail, not from a pattern, others feel that their 'trade mark traits' have been copied.)
I am really worried, more Im sure that it will happen, that I will step on someone's toes at some stage and breach their copyright or trade mark feature.
Im sure that there is a bear maker somewhere that has a trade mark feature of the ears/eyes/nose for every size/shape/position/color possible! Same of all the possible trade mark features (bigger/smaller noses, puffy checks, mouth style, etc, etc, ETC!). Same of colors/shading. Most people shade very similar places in very similar ways.
I fully intend to make bears in a style that touches my heart, rather than copying another artist. But I feel that it doesn't matter WHAT I DO someone will have done it before (whether I have seen it or not) and I will be seen as copying and possibly upset people. And I possibly will develop a certain shape to my checks/feet/eyes/ears/nose/mouth/etc that I just really like and tend to use on all my bears, but Im sure that other people will have done it before or have a very similar style they use now.
Especially being new to bear making I am looking at different techniques available and will be trying them out, so am worried about offending.
It is the puffy checked bears of Bare Cub Designs that have inspired me to make bears. I just ADORE them. (I don't mind the vintage bears, but they don't make me warm and fuzzy, if that makes sense). Since joining this site I have seen a couple of other artists that have similar face sculpting, again that I adore and have started following as well. Puffy checks is something that I really want to give my bears moving forward (I do need A LOT more practice, and am looking at doing a workshop with Helen from Bare Cub Designs). How do I make my 'puffy checks' different enough that I don't upset anyone without having to vary it to something that really doesn't warm my heart? How much can you REALLY vary a puffy check?
Im also looking at experimenting with trapuano toes (sp?) and needle felting toes. How do I make sure that my shape/designs are different enough not to be 'copying'?
Same with even color combinations. I had thought about doing a bear with a heart belly in contrasting fur for my daughter (again, not looking commercial, but what if I was). But I have seen some beautiful ones done this way recently (Im sorry I cant give credit by who, Im still getting to know everyones details and I don't remember). If I had been working on a series of bears with heart bellys for sale would it have been taken as copying the other artist (I imagine so).
How can I possibly stay try to my feelings and visions when making bears without upsetting people? Or is it really just inevitable??
You'll find a topic in our library (located just above your post - left side) that is titled "Copyrights/Trademarks". It has a wealth of information on the subject. This is a delicate and sensitive issue for some people, but similarities will happen sometimes no matter how much we try to make a design our own.
I find that looking at artist bears that have a 'look' to them, it is usually a combination of features that makes an artist's work look like their own. For example, using your example of Bear Cubs, Helen has a very distinct look, the puffy cheeks but also the size of the eyes, the noses, the proportions - that creates her look.
You can still do puffy cheeks, but with your eyes, your proportions. Experiment with lots of patterns and techniques and see what strikes you has how you want your bear to look.
My bears so far, have puffy cheeks (love them and am slowly getting better; BIG feet, small heads in proportions, big bellies. Toes vary as do shading, eyes etc. I just do what I want and somehow, the combination seems to not look like anyone else's work. I do look at the work of others, and try out techniques but I decide for myself what I like or not.
Oh my this is a subject I am really worried about. You see, I really believe it has all been done before; we just put it together differently maybe. If I make a traditional bear am I stepping on the toes of Steff? What about Winnie Pooh? The reason I study the Gallery is to get ideas of how I would like my bear to look! I recently drafted my own pattern for a bent leg bear (that has given me fits) and, lo and behold, I recently saw a bent leg bear almost just like mine! Did I copy this bear? NO! But they are still alike...is that copyright infringement? If you put ears on your bear are you copying Steff? How about a hump? Or, a small tail? Like I said, it's all been done before and unless you are just copying another's bear????????
I have actually read through a lot of the threads in the library about this (although only about 4/5ths through it) and it all just seems to confuse me further.
For some reason the words that you ladies are using is making me feel a little more comfortable and a little less frightened. I just wanted to say thank you for your words. I do appreciate your time, especially when this topic has been done before.
I don't think you need to worry too much, Rinn, as long you are doing your own thing and you know you aren't copying. I think the main thing is to avoid any kind of blatant copywright infringement. Usually even if you are doing something similar to someone else you put your own spin on it and it ends up coming out different anyway. I took part in a 5 artists-1 pattern challenge with Teddy Bear and Friends one year where 5 of us made bears using the same commercial pattern - you wouldn't have believed ANY of the bears were made from the same pattern! (and we weren't allowed to change the pieces at all!)
Just have fun and don't worry!
I can relate, Rinn.
I worked several weeks on a pattern design that was wandering about in my head. I finally got it how I wanted and made a prototype. I was pleased with the result.
Not long after, while checking out the artist bears on ebay, there it was. The bear was very similar to what I'd worked so hard to make. I was not a happy camper.
Do I continue to make my new design, since it came straight from my imagination, or abandon it? And perhaps the next design I create, etc...
I too worry someone, at sometime, will accuse me of stealing. I've read of this problem right here on TT.
I think most any design any of us come up with has been done before. Still, copyright infringement has made me paranoid. I'd hate to have anyone think I was copying.
I know I'm not alone in my thinking.