Are you supporting your own or the theives who rip them off?

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Do you check labels when you buy for yourself, your family and friends? I sure want to believe, if you are a crafts person trying to make a living selling handmade, that you support your own industry.
An artist friend just showed me something she bought for her garden that I knew to be a knock-off of a local crafter.  I couldn’t hold my tongue. This is a woman who has been complaining that she can’t get the price she believes her work should command and that she doesn’t know how she’ll make it as an artist if people are “too cheap” to pay what her work is worth. So, I called her on it. I asked where she bought the piece (although I could guess) and if she knew where it was made. She said she hadn’t checked the label. I asked if she knew that it was a copy of a US crafter and she said she did but couldn’t afford his work  because (get this- “I’m just a struggling artist” ) and that even if she could, it was for “outside after all.”  I was livid and laid into her, as only a good friend should do: “If you aren’t willing to pay the extra for made-in- America, how can you expect people to pay for your work rather than buy a similar piece made in China?” For the record, I’m not talking behind anyone’s back here. I told her she was going to be the subject of my public rant. I said I wouldn’t use her name but I have to admit it’s tempting.
If you’re in the industry, you likely know the difference between a knock-off and a licensed piece made with the artist’s permission for which the artist receives a royalty. One is stealing, one isn’t. Who are you going to support?
So, the next time you are exhibiting at a trade show or crafts fair and you’re worried about making enough to cover your booth fees and travel costs, plus net a profit, ask yourself how often you buy the knockoff because you’re “just an artist and can’t afford” the higher priced handmade version. There’s no question that it’s tough to find certain items made domestically and that when you do they are often pricey. But so are those designer brands that you think are made here. Look at the label of your $200. handbag. Or the sweatshirt you picked up in our nations capital or, better yet-anything decorated with our starts and stripes, including an American flag. If you’re having trouble making it as a crafter, ask yourself if you are supporting your fellow artists. Yes, you may pay more than if you buy the same item made oversees but the answer is to buy two pieces made by hand rather than four made in China. I’ll hop off my soapbox now, but…please, please support your own.

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