After testing it out by searching a few of my images the other week and finding nothing new or surprising, I came across this:
Photos courtesy of http://tomyumdress.com/ ;)
Well.... colour me surprised. That looks a bit familiar, doesn't it? In fact, you could go as far as to say that it's pretty much identical to my origami crane design from Society6. Now, I'm constantly seeing other illustrators tweeting or blogging about having their designs ripped off and often feel quite annoyed about it: how dare they make money from that person's hard work? Why do they think they can get away with what is essentially stealing? But upon seeing this I can't say that I really felt annoyed or outraged at all. It was just very surreal and I generally felt a bit peculiar about it... slightly miffed, very mildly flattered in the weirdest way possible, and just resigned to the fact that I was helpless to do anything. A bit like coming home to find an acquaintance sitting on your sofa drinking your tea, because they think your house is fantastic. (I was never very good at analogies, but try to stay with me here...)
Unfortunately, there's not really anything we can do about this kind of copyright infringement when the perpetrator isn't UK based. Short of sending a cease and desist notice (which I have done, to no effect), we're pretty much powerless to stop other people from profiting from our work when they're based in a different country. Quite sad, but presumably inevitable in this age of sharing our work on the internet.
What are your thoughts on it all? Have you ever had your work copied? Am I an emotionless husk for feeling so apathetic about it? And if you do fancy a t-shirt with my origami crane design on it, please head over to Society6 to grab one - it might be more expensive than the knock-off, but the quality will be worth it and you'll make an illustrator very happy!