Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I think it's pretty clear that my work is handmade by myself. It's written all over my website and shop, as well as documented here on my blog.  But I can't assume that everyone would know or understand this just from looking at my work, or from seeing it online.  Context and descriptions are pretty important.
So when I was informed early this week that my work was part of a slideshow put together by the Wall Street Journal who had written an article about Etsy policing shops that are resellers or factory made items, I was a little concerned.   I felt a little wary of how my work fit into the article- were they questioning whether my work was handmade or was my work the poster-child of Etsy for being handmade.  It was, frankly, hard to tell.  The side-bar caption merely said (it's been changed now fyi) 'as sold by Dahl Haus on Etsy', along with a prelude sentence describing the new software Etsy is developing to catch factory shops.  Besides the obvious name being misspelled, it just sounded wrong.  There were about 4 shops, (only 3 remain) out of millions of Etsy shops that were highlighted.  It was a bit hard to tell why we were up there, with descriptions like 'Neat, but is it handmade?' below the image. 
Recently there was a featured seller that was exposed for not being completely up-front with how her work was made, and where she was actually sourcing her work from.  There's been a huge Regretsy write-up on it, and the comments got so slanderous in the featured seller comment section that Etsy shut it all down.  (Not gonna link here- don't feel it's necessary to fuel the fire, so to speak)
I don't mean to be super specific about how my work gets represented, but I took issue with how this article represented my work.  I have work in Anthropologie, sitting side-by-side factory made ceramics.  It's already confusing to the average consumer how my work is made.  I don't need someone googling my name and coming up with this article, then wondering whether it's made in China or not.
There were some changes made and some suggestions not taken, but I feel over-all, it represents my work better then it did.  I've never said I was a 'design firm' (click through 'correction' if you are curious) and I certainly do more then just design the work on my Etsy shop.  I don't want to nit-pick at this point, and feel ready to move on.
Along with some explanation from the folks at Etsy with how the image ended up at the WSJ in the first place and an apology that I wasn't asked before it got posted, I feel a lot better about the whole thing now.  Having worked so extremely hard in the studio this past year to make my work, I wasn't about to let my bottle vases get misrepresented or some 'factory' get credit for making my work. I don't think I over-reacted given my reasoning, and the response from friends and family on my personal facebook page.  Most people who initially read the article and captions were as confused as I was about why my image was used.


Hstare said...

Well done Heather. Glad to hear they responded to your concerns.

Marcia said...

Brava Heather for standing up for your beautiful work and the ethics of the situation.