My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1151: Doing the "Right Thing"

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 10-11-2013 10:17 AM 1306 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1150: Solving Problems Part 1151 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1152: The Storm Before the Calm »

I didn’t quite get my new project finished yesterday. It turned out to be one of those days that I had one distraction after another and even though I did make progress, it isn’t really finished yet. That isn’t always a bad thing though. Sometimes distractions are there for a reason and I don’t feel at this point like beating myself over the head when at the end of the day I still accomplished quite a bit.

I think that it is important to be able to be flexible. We all know that it is rare when things turn out exactly as we would like. More so than not, life throws us little curve balls and I think that how we deal with these changes in plans can have a large effect on our well-being and happiness.

I learned a lot of flexibility when my kids were small (as most of you probably did!) There’s nothing like having a child or two around to change the way we think. It certainly makes us grow up quickly when our focus turns to another little human that depends on us for everything. At least it did when I was going through it. I think it is a good thing though and teaches us that caring for another can be very satisfying and fulfilling. And with that care comes the ability to be flexible.

In any case, I started out with the thought of finishing my project yesterday and fell a bit short. But it was with good reason that I did so, so I am not worried about.

In the morning, I decided to switch directions and do another project that I had been thinking of for quite a bit. I don’t know why I chose yesterday to work on it, but it has been something that has been on my mind and I wanted to get it finished and out the door before our trip. I figured out that if I waited until I wasn’t busy, it may never come to be so I just jumped in and got going on it.

I am not going to show it here, as it is for a friend who came upon some tragedy not too long ago. It isn’t anything big, but it is something to hopefully help soften the blow of what she has been through. Just a little something to show her that I care and feel for her. I hope you all don’t mind but I do want to keep it private.

I also had an eye appointment right after lunch. The new contact lenses that I got a week earlier weren’t really working out. I was having to use (in addition to the contacts) one strength of readers for close work and another strength for what I call “normal” distance – about 3-4 feet away. This was driving me crazy and I have had headaches every day for the past week, since the prescription was changed. It was also confusing and frustrating, as it seemed I spent more time searching for glasses than working. It was especially frustrating knowing that I was leaving for a trip in less than a week and not an acceptable way for me to live. I did get the prescription changed again and what the eye doctor will try is a stronger prescription on one eye than the other. She says my dominant eye will take over and I will be able to see that “normal” distance clearer and still see farther away. I will still need readers for close work and scrolling.

It seemed odd to me, but the vision is better (although it will take some time to adjust.) I hope it is better by the time I leave.

Just before I left for the eye doctor, I received a pretty large order for some painting patterns. It was strange because the customer ordered five different patterns, but several of each. For instance one of the patterns she ordered five copies. These are PDF electronic patterns that are printed out on the home printer (as many copies as you wish) so I thought something was amiss and she didn’t understand. Many times I have customers that see the patterns and think that there are wood pieces included with them for them to paint. I wondered if she had thought that the pattern price did include the wood, so I wrote a quick note and I tried to give her a call. She was not there, but I left a message.

It also struck me as odd that she wanted PDF patterns. Usually if someone orders wood pieces, we tell them on the order page that they need to check the “regular ground shipping” option so they are charged a shipping fee. Otherwise we can’t process the order.

I didn’t hear back from her for a while, so I went back to working on my box. I did get the slots cut and most of the sanding done, so I should be able to show it tomorrow.

Later in the evening, I received a call back from the customer who ordered the painting patterns. I tried to explain to her that if she intended to order kits, she needed to order the “Kit” product and check the regular shipping option. She explained to me however that it was not her intention at all, and the order was correct as it was. I was confused.

Apparently, she had used several of my patterns (the witch’s hats and boots and Halloween masks) and made a cute little Halloweenie tree much like the one I have. When her painting group came over to paint, they all loved the tree so much that they wanted to make one as well. They also all wanted to make a tree with some of the other painted ornaments that I offered. They had a local woodcutter who would make the wood pieces for them, so they only wanted the patterns, not the kits. So she took a head count and everyone paid for the patterns they wanted and thus she placed multiple copies on the order form, as if they were buying physical patterns.

I was astonished to say the least.

I realize that my customer did the “right thing”, but in these days where people think nothing of sharing patterns and books (especially electronic copies) I was very grateful and thrilled that she had enough respect for me as a designer to do so.

This is a sore spot with many designers that I know – both woodworking designers as well as painting designers. I have seen even big names in painting and scrolling have their patterns shared and in essence “stolen” by others many times. It is discouraging to us as designers and it really starts to weigh heavily on your heart after a while.

I can’t tell you how many times I am reading posts on the various forums that I follow in which someone asks where to get a pattern and another party replies “I’ll PM you!” My heart sinks every time that I read something like that because it is evident that they are sharing patterns and the designer is losing yet another sale. I am happy to say that many forums won’t allow posts like this and the moderators step in, but there is only so much that they can do to help the designers and stop the practice.

When I heard that this group had enough respect for me as a designer to order (and PAY for!) multiple copies of an electronic pattern, it really gave me HOPE!

People ARE getting it! They ARE seeing that stealing patterns and sharing them with their groups or friends not only hurts the designers, but the industry as a whole. As more and more designers drop out of business because of lack of sales – even though they are very talented and many people enjoy their designs – people are seeing that they will lose the contributions and creativity of these designers who fall victim to these practices. The entire industry loses as a result.

Last year Steve Ramsey (Woodworking for Mere Mortals) did some campaigning against some of these companies who repackage hundreds of patterns by well-known designers and sell them without consent. While there isn’t much that one can do legally without investing a lot of time and money, he did help to raise the awareness among the legitimate woodworkers at how WRONG this practice is. There comes a point where we have to put right before greed. While it would be nice to get 1000 patterns for $19.95 (or whatever it was) it certainly hurt the designers who had their work included in the package.

But people ARE getting it – in both the painting sector AND the woodworking sector. Forums do not tolerate pattern sharing and it is becoming socially unacceptable for people to do so. Designers have banded together and little by little we are teaching people that it is not “harmless” to share these designs with anyone else. It is stealing just as it would be to steal an item from the store.

You all may think that I am getting over excited about all of this. After all, it is just one group and one order. But I AM excited and I am hopeful because the integrity that my customer and her group showed was that they DO care about the designers and they WANT quality designs. And that comes with a price. We can’t design if we don’t get paid for our work. That is the bottom line.

You all know that this is my living. It isn’t a side job I do a couple hours a week for fun. Through my networking I know of many other designers who are like me and while some are amazingly talented, they just can’t make even a meager living designing because of things like pattern sharing. That isn’t just my opinion. It is a simple fact.

I will close here for now, but before I do I want to thank not only my customer who had the integrity to do “the right thing” as well as my many other customers who do the same. I know some of my best people who order from me follow the same practices, and I want them to know that not only do I appreciate them, but that ALL designers do. By following the rules, they are setting a good example for others. I hope that soon that pattern sharing will be looked on by everyone as something that will not be tolerated. That way we designers can keep on making the best patterns we can for you, and get paid fairly for our efforts.

I feel really good today. This incident did a lot for my moral as a designer and gave me a great deal of faith in my customers and future customers. There IS hope for our industries – both painting and woodworking – if each of us follows the rules and does the right thing. And as examples, others will follow.

I have no picture today, so I will share this one with you:

This is the new snow leopard named Everest who was born last month at Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago. I hope to visit the zoo on my upcoming trip in the next couple of weeks and participate in the “Boo at the Zoo” event that they hold annually. I will certainly take more pictures and post them of our adventures.

Have a great day today. I know I will!

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. – Oprah Winfrey

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

2 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2101 days

#1 posted 10-11-2013 05:03 PM

Kudos to your customer for showing that there are still considerate ethical people in the world! I’m glad to hear that forums are not allowing pattern sharing on their sites. So many designers, artists and musicians have lost out because their work gets pirated on the Internet.
It’s going to be a beautiful sunny Fall weekend here. Workshop time!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 10-11-2013 11:50 PM

Hi, Anna:
I am sorry, I couldn’t get on the site when you first commented. It is good to see that people are around that still have some personal ethics. Sometimes I get discouraged because sharing is rampant. There is really no way to stop it other than people changing their own behavior. Like most things, changes occur one person at a time.

Nice day here today. Very cool and autumn-ish. I am looking forward to a good weekend and hope you have one as well. Happy Thanksgiving to you! :)


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

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