One of the Google alerts I’ve set for my g-mail account is “designer jewelry.” Frankly, I don’t pore over these entries, but there are a few design contests I look at and occasionally, a headline will capture my attention. Today was one of those days where a couple of headlines prompted me to click the link to learn more about the designer.
The links took me to news stories where the designer was allowed to wax on about his or her inspirations, the techniques, gemstones and materials he or she used. But there were no pictures of the jewelry.
Annoying, to say the least.
Having looked at a couple of these stories in succession, I realized they were part of a pattern…that pictures of the jewelry were deliberately omitted from the stories.
This is easy. The designers don’t want to show their designs because they’re afraid they’ll be copied.
This is an issue I ran into all the time when I ran the gallery. The fear of copycat designers. It may be one you’ve grappled with.
While it’s a legitimate issue to the extent that a brilliant, innovative designer can come up with unique designs people copy, to be honest, most designers aren’t in this category. Moreover, if people don’t see the jewelry, however beautifully designed, they don’t buy it, talk about it or show it to other people. A decision to limit exposure of your designs is a decision to limit the growth of your reputation and consequent acknowledgement of your achievements.
I know and admire a pearl and bead stringer whose designs are stunningly beautiful. (I won’t use her name.) She used to show with me and currently shows at exclusive galleries around the country. She never allowed her jewelry to be photographed for fear it would be copied. But she failed to realize that her designs are instantly recognizable as hers. They’re unmistakable.
She’s older now and not producing as much. Because she’s not leaving a legacy of photographs (as far as I know) her overall contribution to the art of jewelry making will be limited and I believe will be eventually forgotten sooner rather than later. It’s too bad.
The basis of this fear is of course insecurity. But, really, without sounding harsh, my advice is to get over it. Let people see your designs and evaluate them. It’s the only way to build a reputation and gain real and sustained exposure.