My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1058: Supporting the Creative Industrys - Taking Responsibility

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-13-2013 11:30 AM 1752 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1057: The Next Project Part 1058 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1059: A Very Rare Opportunity I Want to Share With You »

I accomplished a great deal yesterday, and I am pleased I came so far. It was an incredibly busy day and I had lots of interaction with customers and friends and I got a lot of work done. For the next several days I will be working on a painting pattern. While I showed the pieces being painted on one surface, a company that I sell through (the Artist’s Club) requested that I use one of their surfaces for the design. So I am in the process of adapting it to that and also I had created my own pieces to use with it.

I am afraid that because of the time it will take for me to really get this done, things here on the blog may not be very exciting. I may take the next few days to bring to your attention some other things that are going on in the industry and with some of my incredibly artistic and talented friends.

As you know, not only do I create scroll saw patterns, but I also design painting patterns. Recently, some of my friends who are designers of painting patterns have had some bad experiences regarding their work being uploaded and distributed freely on the internet. Many times entire instruction books have been copied and shared this way and it has really hurt the designer tremendously. Those of you who read every day can see all the work that goes into creating instructional patterns for people. Good designers take time and care to make their patterns and instructions they best they possibly can, and they put their heart and soul into their work. And even if we do love what we do, it IS “work” because it is the only means of support for many of us. Without the income generated from people purchasing our patterns, we simply wouldn’t be able to spend the necessary time to create the caliber of instructions that we create. And in the long run, not only do the crafters and customers suffer, but the whole industry suffers because as good designers drop out to find another means to make a living, what is left are cheap and shoddy patterns. I have seen many of my favorite designs – both in the painting world and in the woodworking world – disappear from the industry because they simply were not able to earn even a minimal living selling their patterns.

The internet is a double-edged sword for designers. While it offers a wonderful venue for us to reach out to people that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, it also leaves us vulnerable to those who may not be honest and wish to capitalize on our hard work with little effort on their own.

Unlike those who sell tangible, finished items, we are selling not only our drawings and line work for our designs, but our lessons we use to teach our customers how to make the designs themselves. In essence, we are selling concepts along with our drawings, and that makes it very difficult to police.

My partner Keith has been worried from the time I met him because I frequently take pictures head on of my finished work to show on both the site and now here on my blog and on Facebook and the like. We have heard stories of people who just trace the designs off the screen of their computer, and are able to cut them that way. I have heard of people right here that have boasted about doing that type of thing and it does trouble me a great deal. But what would the answer be?

We have tried to put lower resolution pictures only online. We have tried to skew the pictures, or only show part of the designs at a time. We have tried to make people aware that if they do steal our work in this way, they are only hurting themselves in the long run, because as designers drop out of the industry there will be less and less quality designs to choose from. Yet some people still want to get around paying for what they take.

Even if the above methods were successful in stopping thievery altogether, it would only take one proud customer to post a head-on shot of their work with our patterns to make it available to everyone. I truly don’t feel that is the answer.

I think that we have to rely on educating people as to how detrimental stealing these designs are, and let them know that they are only hurting the industry as a whole when they share patterns and follow the above practices. Most patterns we offer are between $5 – $10. I think that this is an average price in both the painting and woodworking industry. Books run around $15 – $20 projects, but they are usually filled with at least 15 – 20 projects, making the instructions average out to only about $1 per pattern. Magazines are much cheaper and the cost per pattern is far less.

Why then would people choose to do so much damage to the designers and the industry that they love for such a small price? Many are even making projects to sell or use as gifts. Why would they think that the means to make these items should be “free”? It is beyond me.

They may think that “only once” won’t do much damage. But if each person thought like that, the loss in revenue to the designers, publishers and artists would rise exponentially very quickly. And the truth is that once someone has adopted the attitude that they aren’t hurting anyone, they tend to keep their blinders on and continue the practice.

I think that we as fellow artists and crafters need to make sharing and stealing patterns “socially unacceptable.” There are many times I see call outs on forums for a certain pattern. The designer may or may not be mentioned, but there are times when someone posts the “I’ll personal message you!” response from another member. More likely than not, it is at that time that the person offers to “share” the pattern with the requester. We have all seen that happen.

If we want our favorite designers to survive, we need to stand our ground and say “no, thank you” to those who are offering up others’ work so freely. We not only need to refuse the offer, but we need to make it clear that what they are doing is WRONG and not only hurts the designer, but hurts the industry as a whole. Besides – Many designers offer “free” sample patterns of some of their best designs for you to use. If you can’t afford it now, why not take a free design until you can save up for the ones you really like?

If someone offered you some stolen jewelry, would you accept it? How is this any different?

People complain that there aren’t enough quality patterns available to them. They complain that the industry that they love so much (either scroll sawing or tole painting) is on the decline, and they honestly don’t understand why that is the case. Perhaps it is that way because many of the good designers found that they could no longer make their living doing what they love because of these practices. While it may not be the entire blame, it certainly is responsible for a large part of it.

It is up to YOU ladies and gentlemen. Each and every incidence of sharing DOES count. We need to retrain ourselves that the practice of sharing what we have no right to share is NOT acceptable and should not be tolerated for our own good and the greater good of the industry of the hobbies we love so much. It may “only be a pattern” to you, but to the designer, it is their life’s work and they have put their heart and soul into it. We need to respect that and support the designers whose work we love to create.

I’ll end here, but I hope I gave you something to think about. I really don’t like to preach to people, as we are all adults and we all know what is right or wrong, but seeing some of my favorite designers get plagiarized has made me see that there is a need to say something to remind people of how they can help. My heart goes out to those who have had their work exploited and I wanted to point out the obvious to you, my readers, so that you can get word out to your friends who are in your clubs and share your craft with you so that we ALL will have lots of choices of wonderful patterns from talented people who design. Help spread the word and be the example. That way we can all win.

Feel free to share this post with anyone you think will be interested. Every step, no matter how small toward supporting your favorite designers will be greatly appreciated. And it will insure you that you will continue to have many choices of high quality designs and fun projects to choose from.

Have a great Thursday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

10 comments so far

View Rick13403's profile


256 posts in 3501 days

#1 posted 06-13-2013 01:45 PM

Well said Sheila! I think that it is a shame to have to post things like this but I now think that society as a whole is going down hill in a basket with all of the stealing of ideas and i.d. theft that is going on. I really believe that the “end” is close. That said, hope you and Keith have a great day.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2916 days

#2 posted 06-13-2013 01:55 PM

Thanks, Rick! I thought it was important to have my say and I hope you all share my thoughts with others. Things are rough now for lots of people, but one thing that stood out is that there ARE good people who are honest and respectful of designers and creative works. Many of them are strapped financially too, but they still have the integrity to know what is right and wrong and follow the right path. I truly believe that if we make others more aware of the detriment of sharing designs that they have no rights on, they will stop doing so or at least think twice about it and perhaps reconsider. One step at a time! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2069 days

#3 posted 06-13-2013 04:51 PM

Good Morning Sheila! An excellent blog! And it’s really too bad that we do need to point out this lack of integrity in some people, however in todays world it seems that if you can do it, it’s OK to do it no matter how dishonest the action is. We hear on the news that folks are complaining because of the lack of jobs and work but it doesn’t occur to those same people that by stealing from honest hardworking artisans and designers that they are taking away work opportunities. Everything has a ripple effect and even if the designer, artisan or photographer is self employed and has no-one else in their employ, they are still creating work in the workforce by using the internet, using supply companies, using paper to produce orders etc. There will always be those who steal from the internet, break traffic laws, don’t pay their transit fares etc but thankfully there are many people who are honest, respectful of others and have integrity. I believe that there are more good people in this world than the media would have us believe. It is these good folks voice (like yourself) we just need to hear more of.
Have a great day Sheila. Sunny and warm here today – a gardening day.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2881 days

#4 posted 06-13-2013 05:22 PM

I have been asked, more than a few times, to share a pattern that I either gotten from you or some other paid source. The answer is always “NO” then I will point them to the source for the pattern. If it is a FREE pattern or one from Steve Good that, perhaps, is a different case. However, first of all if I paid for it then you are stealing from me and secondly from the pattern designer.

I know you guys must work on mass volume and that being the case your patterns on my computer stay there, except for my printer – of course.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View robscastle's profile


4980 posts in 2200 days

#5 posted 06-13-2013 09:44 PM

Hello Sheila,
I read your blog 36435 part 1058 with interest.
I agree there is an element of the population that has the impression of why pay for something when you can get it for free, and the concept has some merit of which is supported by the attitude of the original designer in displaying their work for all to see.

This action alone by default encourages those less knowledgeable to seek out and attempt to be able to imitate and reproduce the same work or in some cases improve on the original result and improving their skills.

This is how life evolves in just about every aspect of our existence.

I for one have just constructed and completed and posted an Infants Cot, and within the leg construction of that Infants Cot I directly copied the visual concept I saw from a post that DAC presented in a Chest of drawers.

I had the Infants Cot on my “to do List” for some time but didn’t commence it for whatever reason.
However after seeing DACs post, it inspired me to not only start but to also complete the project and to use the same method I saw in the post.

I have four adult boys and during their upbringing I deliberately showed and demonstrated to them how to do things so they could copy me and in the process learn for themselves and become self dependent as well.

This process went on all their growing life, and I now find I have a situation where I can learn from them and improve my skills in a technology advanced world.

The wood working craft in just about all of its forms is an almost dying art, in as far as being human driven is concerned, the rising economic costs and the reduction in available suitable materials is making it become an almost cost prohibitive activity.
Or possibly an activity that now requires careful planning at the outset in regard to the decision making process of, to Build it Yourself or Just buy it ready made.

I personally have no problem in any person coping my work, that is why I openly advertise it.
And I fully understand it is something that I must have copied (read as learned from some one else) in the first place anyway.

Keeping in mind there is no indication anywhere I want to or expect any financial return for the same.
So if it has a price tag attached expect to pay for it, otherwise you are correct it is theft.

The Infants Cot that I made for example its highly possible I will, Just give it away to somebody worthy of it.

I could however actively attempt to sell it and try to get a return covering my costs and a profit as well.
Which I doubt in all honesty would happen.
I could sell it on ebay and get financially nothing or possibly very little for it. That’s a reality.

I have a reasonable idea what motivated Noah to build the Ark and I am sure it was not money, possibly a more universal reason framed around what you may call today Save the Planet.

So in conclusion: I fully support copying as I “hope” it allows us to do what we love to do for many years to come, educate further generations and allow the world to be a better place, but it will not provide you with the ability to buy a new scroll saw blade though !.

-- Regards Robert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2916 days

#6 posted 06-13-2013 10:44 PM

Thank you Anna and Jerrell. You have both always shown respect for designers and have certainly contributed to why I enjoy what I do so much. I am happy that you regard my work and that of other designs as an important piece to the puzzle, and I am grateful for your support.

Hi, Rob: Thank you for your detailed response. I read over it a couple of times to be certain I understand what you are saying, and for the most part, I agree with you.

I agree that we learn by ‘copying’ things around us. Learning new techniques often requires us seeing the process done by others. There are actually very few people (designers included) with completely “original” ideas. Most often, even the newest and most innovative ideas spawn from other ideas that others have already presented. As you may have noticed, I hosted a class for people to learn techniques from me right here on Lumberjocks, which consisted of several parts and included videos and downloadable practice sheets – all free of charge. Those who read often know me to be someone who truly loves teaching and sharing what I have learned with others, and I will continue to do so as long as I am able.

I would not be able to share this knowledge with others in this way if I didn’t charge for at least part of my work (my patterns) as I am not from a wealthy family and as most other people, need to “work” to make a daily living. The combination of selling patterns through my site and a few wholesalers, as well as working as a free lance contributing editor for a magazine or two allows me to follow my passion and continue to share my knowledge while supporting myself in the process. Without this income, I would never be able to do so.

What I was referring to in this blog entry was not “copying” technique or learning methods. I hope to give back to the industry far beyond printing patterns and selling them, which is why I spend a portion of my day here sharing what I have learned with others, as well as participating in several woodworking forums and trying to answer questions and help fellow woodworkers and painters in the process. Not all designers do this, but this is my choice, and while the time may be “better spent” from a financial point of view if I were to stick strictly making patterns (which many may think would be best), I choose to network with others and give back to the industry that has given me so much in return.

That being said, I do feel rather protective about the patterns and things that I create for sale and for income, and I don’t feel good about it when people help themselves while other honest customers such as Anna and Jerrell choose to do the proper thing and pay me for my service as a pattern maker and for my instructions. In many ways, paying for my patterns and services is no different than enrolling in a college course and paying the accompanying fees. Those who have dealt with me and have purchased my patterns know that long after they pay the fees for the patterns, my services to them are still available. I am here just about all the time to answer questions, clarify instructions they may not understand, and even replace patterns for them if they have difficulties with their computers or somehow lost patterns that they had bought from me. I try to look at my customers as more than just a paycheck, and I treat them as I would like to be treated myself.

I am not able to go to the grocery store and tell them that I teach these things and help these people and expect the store to give me food for free. They don’t let me leave without paying them, and if I don’t charge for some forms of the above mentioned services that I offer, I don’t eat. (Funny how that works!) I believe that is why we have a monetary system in place in the world in the first place. People work. They get paid. They can buy things.

Of course you don’t expect your sons to pay you for teaching them. That is part of being a parent. But you do expect to pay fees for education somewhere along the way and you consider it an investment. Why would it be wrong of me to expect some form of payment for educating others and providing them with designs for their pleasure and for them to in turn sell for profit? I am not understanding this.

Perhaps you misunderstood what I was trying to say. The incident from the artist I talked about was someone taking her entire book and uploading it to Facebook so that others could download it for free. This is her livelihood that she spent years developing. She also offers plenty of free instructions and patterns and it is part of her occupation. It is not the same as you getting inspiration from a fellow Lumberjock and using his/her concept on your own non for profit piece. Many Lumberjocks (including myself) encourage others to use our ideas as a springboard for their own creativity. I have said that many times here, and I also say it to my customers.

I honestly don’t think we are talking about the same thing. I apologize if I was not clear in this morning’s post. When I write my blog, it is stream of consciousness and it is done early in the morning. I don’t edit or rewrite it and sometimes it is not as organized as it should be. It is, in essence, a very informal essay of my thoughts of the moment, so sometimes things don’t really come out as clearly as I would have liked them to.

I am glad you responded and I applaud your desire to perpetuate your skills by teaching them to your children and others. It is what will make woodworking stronger and despite technology and mechanical advances, many of us still have the desire to create with our hands the “old fashioned way.”

Thank you for your thoughts on this. While many parts of my daily activities don’t earn me money to buy blades, there are some that do and I will try my best to keep doing what I am doing as long as I can. If I go down, it will not be without a fight. :)

Have a great evening! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 2911 days

#7 posted 06-14-2013 07:36 PM

Sheila -

While I understand the problem, I think the best way to deal with it is to make sure everything that you post and sell prominently and clearly links back to you. Most thieves are lazy, so you are at least getting marketing benefit from the “informal” distribution of your work.

I’ve worked piracy problems for years for the computer game industry, and I think the best approach is to embrace informal distribution as you aren’t going to be able to stop it.

Basically, every product becomes a portal back to your site and other products.

Happy to talk offline.


-- Steven Davis - see me at

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2916 days

#8 posted 06-16-2013 10:34 AM

Thank you Steve for your perspective. I do think that your point of view is a good one. I agree that there will be no way to stop those who steal things in this manner, and I had decided long ago to focus on moving ahead and working on new things – not looking over my shoulder and spending my time chasing those who violate copyrights.

I agree with your assessment that most thieves are lazy. If they would rather spend their time tracing the computer screen then purchasing a pattern for around $5, then they need something to keep them busy anyway. Not to mention that there is distortion from the lens of the camera even on head-on shots. With something as exacting as scroll sawing, depending on the design it would in all probability screw things up anyway. My inclination is to let them knock themselves out.

I would rather look ahead and focus on creating new things. I wrote this blog because I have recently seen several of my creative friends get hurt. I feel that by keeping people aware and reminding them every once in a while about this subject, it will perhaps keep this type of theft to a minimum.

I always appreciate hearing your thoughts though, as I know you have had experience in this problem. Thank you for looking at things in a new way. :)

Have a great day! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#9 posted 06-18-2013 01:42 AM

Hey Sheila. Good topic. IMO, there is a fine line between, using, borrowing, copying, and/or stealing. I only have a 2-syllable word fer folks that are the thieves: “low-lifes”. There is a big difference in websites like Pinterest, (my Daughters use this to give me some ideas, and it’s the only one I can think of right now…lol), and I’m sure many others that are designed for people to show the “how-to” on many different things, crafts, etc., that they want to share. Similar to this, but, different. You know what I mean? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, common sense is missing way too much in the world today. I have the utmost respect for any artisan out there that is making a living at this/these types of careers. It is very hard, I’m sure. There’s my .02.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2916 days

#10 posted 06-18-2013 09:50 AM

Thanks for your thoughts, Roger. There is a difference between being “inspired” by another’s design and copying it. I think most people know right from wrong, but some choose to plea ignorance. I have learned that you can never stop all thievery though. You can only do your best to minimize it. Just as there are thieves, there are many good people who want to learn and respect and appreciate designers for teaching them how to do things. Those are the people I focus on and want as customers. :)

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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