When Lisa Congdon wrote "My Art was Stolen for Profit" earlier this week, we were outraged on her behalf. Several pieces of Lisa's art were reproduced without her permission by the wholesale supplier Cody Foster. Lisa is not only pursuing legal action, but she publicly called out Cody Foster and has garnered a good deal of support in her efforts to share the story. In every industry there are knock offs, but the craft world seems to be especially plagued by this phenomenon. Whether it's an artist creating work that's uncomfortably close to another artist's or DIY tutorials about how to make something just like what so-and-so sells, the disrespect for creativity is the same. In this instance, Cody Foster regularly purchases items from independent artists and then resells a mass-produced version of the item to retailers. The revelation that Cody Foster has done this for years is maddening, and yesterday it got even more personal for us.
Sarah Mandell of Once Again Sam shares our hometown of Greenville and is an Indie Craft Parade alumni. Her felted curiosities are playful, unique, and take hours to create. This year, Cody Foster is selling owl ornaments almost identical to the needle-felted owls Sarah has been selling for the past three years at our events and many others across the Southeast.
image via indieripoffs
Today, we are officially joining Lisa's cry to spread the word and stand up for independent artists. Let your local retail shops know that Cody Foster has made a habit (and a business) of ripping off artists, most of whom can not pursue any kind of legal action. Write an email to retailers you frequent, or if you're a shop owner and have access to the Atlanta Market, stop by Cody Foster's booth in person and politely let them know your purchasing dollars will be spent with companies who respect artists.
Fast Company states it well in their article: "A wholesale company like Cody Foster might not fear lawsuits, but it can be imperiled when consumers start telling their friends and complaining to the big companies that buy from wholesalers."
Handlettered by Justin Hall for the 2013 Indie Craft Parade
We were thrilled to see retailers like West Elm and Fab drop Cody Foster wares in a show of support for artists, but there is still plenty we can do. Indie Craft Parade has reached out to our retail contacts about Cody Foster and we encourage you to do the same.
Lisa's post, among other revelations in the past few weeks, has confirmed in our mind the importance of education when it comes to ethical choices in the craft world. As a result, we will be including this topic in our 2014 Makers Summit lineup, addressing issues like inspiration versus copying. Plagiarism isn't tolerated in the academic world, and we don't think there's any reason the line should be blurred in the art realm.