Recently a maker that I'm familiar with through a business network that we are both a part of had something interesting and terribly disappointing, but not totally uncommon happen to her. Long story short (though I do recommend her full story), she tried to purchase a serum from a small handmade cosmetics business and was told no for fear of competition. This reminded me of a topic that I've reflected on a lot as my own business has grown, and yes, even had some of our ideas "borrowed" from us from time to time. Intellectual property is a passionate subject and for good reason. You're talking about a creator's baby. But there's a big difference between reasonably protecting yourself and letting yourself be consumed by fear. So without further adieu, I give you five reasons why your fellow artist is NOT the enemy.
(Oh, really, are we going to measure?)
1. Your essence cannot be stolen. A packaging idea. A marketing scheme. Heck, even a recipe. Yes, these are all tangible things that can indeed be imitated. But the very soul and core personality of your individual work can never be stolen. It's why a small-name creator or micro-business can even survive in the first place. Not because your idea was the most original of original ideas- even if it really is- but because as an artist you're selling yourself as much as your work, and you can't be stolen.*
*Frank little side note: Most of the time when someone is desperate enough to try, they don't even do it all that well. People can smell a copy.
2. We can all win. We're not talking about monster corporations here. "GigantCorp's sales were really up in the third quarter, we've got to step up our game if we want to stay ahead". Yeah, no. It doesn't work that way, and if you're operating as if it does, I am so sorry for the ulcer you've probably given yourself. Someone else's success does not equate to your failure, and if you're practicing your art in such a way that you have something truly unique to offer, you honestly don't have to worry. It's like having a multitude of delicious artisan flavors. Hell yes, I want them to enjoy my Bourbon Vanilla. And yes, it's also totally okay when tomorrow they feel like Banana Rum Jam. Because you really can enjoy both. Isn't that cool?
3. Fear of someone else's art prevents you from ENJOYING someone else's art. I will completely admit to there once being a time in my career when I wouldn't buy anyone else's soap. It wasn't anything personal against those artists, but I was really insecure about what that said about my own product. I don't stand behind my work enough to use it exclusively? The other artist is better? What silliness! I can now say from personal experience that I was truly missing out. Like we hit on in point #2, enjoying something different is not a bad thing and does not mean you can't love both. And I do absolutely love the work of some of my fellow body care artists.
(Like *ahem* Outlaw Soaps. Did "The Sexiest Soap Ever" just wander in here? Damn. Oh, look, someone dropped their website, too.)
4. You'll miss out on opportunities. When you're not afraid to partake in someone else's work, you might find that you freaking ADORE someone else's work. And they may feel the same about you. Then the potential for some really cool stuff happens. For instance, you both might start telling the whole world how awesome the other is, resulting in a bigger fan base for both of you. Or a collaboration! Neat things happen when artists start supporting artists.
5. When you're too busy looking at the scoreboard, you're not giving any attention to your game. Especially when the scoreboard is freaking imaginary. Seriously. Just stop. You're going to trip or something. However you want to word it, you just aren't going to do as good of a job if you're nervously looking somewhere else.
Insecurity does not breed creativity. But more creativity does! It's kind of awesome in that light-from-a-candle-lighting-other-candles kind of way. Give it a try!