I wanted to address something that's been on my mind lately: crediting pattern designers. Like most indie designers, I request that people who use my patterns credit me for the design with either a blurb that says something along the lines of, "Made with a BeeZeeArt pattern," or a link back to my shop. Ideally, both.
Why Do I Ask for Credit? And Why Should You Provide it?
The most obvious is that this is my job! When you credit me for a pattern, you provide word of mouth advertising for me. According to Forbes, word of mouth advertising is the most important form of advertising for businesses. 92% of customers believe recommendations from friends and family over other forms of advertisement, which is great for building trust. Those who are referred via word of mouth are 4X more likely to purchase a product and are 18% more likely to remain loyal customers. As a small business, I don't have a dedicated marketing department, so this type of advertising is huge for me!
If you like my products and you want me to keep doing what I do, crediting back to me when you make plushies from my pattern directly helps with keeping me in business.
It also helps me find you! When plush artists who use my patterns credit me, I can find their posts when I search for my name. I frequently share these posts on my social media. I also keep a list of people willing to take commissions. Since I don't take commissions, I can send potential customers your way when someone has a request. I even keep a pinterest board entirely dedicated to products made from my patterns. So I can provide that same word of mouth advertising back to you by promoting you to my friends, family, and followers.
Another reason I ask for credit is to avoid confusion and provide transparency for buyers. Here's a real life situation. A person was producing bats from my pattern and telling people it was their pattern that they designed. For whatever reason, the plush artist decided to shut down their business. However, they did not inform their customers, nor refund those with open orders. The angry customers then began searching for the specific design of the bat to try and find if the plush artist was doing business under a new name. They came across me and assumed we were the same person because the plush artist had claimed my pattern as their own design. Obviously this was a very frustrating situation for the buyers and myself that could have been avoided had the seller been open and honest with their customers.
In another instance, a person was selling products created from my patterns at a craft show. A customer bought one and was told they were the seller's own unique designs. Months later the customer was trying to track down the original seller to purchase more plushies and found my patterns. They contacted me assuming I was the original seller. Though they still enjoyed their product and wanted to purchase more plushies with the same design, they were also upset with the original seller from the craft show. They felt they'd been lied to because the designs were not unique to the artist. I recommended other plush artist who work from my patterns for them to purchase from instead. In this case, the original seller lost what could have been a loyal customer by falsely presenting my designs as something they were not.
Of course these are two very extreme instances, but I still believe it is important to be clear with your customers so they understand exactly what they are buying and who they are buying from. Even if it seems harmless, you never know what kind of situation you may find yourself in later. Honesty is the best policy to avoid future understandings.
How to Credit a Designer
The most obvious way is simply to write, "This design is by (insert artist here)," in the description of the item for sale. A link back to the artist's page is also greatly appreciated. When posting on social media, you can tag the pattern designer in your post.
Of course that assumes you are selling and sharing online. Many people have expressed confusion at how to provide credit when selling in person when there isn't a convenient text box. I'm sure different designers will have different preferences, so my first suggestion is to ask the pattern designer what they prefer.
One simple solution is to add "Pattern Designed by (name)" to the back of a price tag. Simple price tags such as these from Amazon are inexpensive and have room to write on. If you're not individually tagging your products, consider adding it to a sign. Instead of, "Cat Plushies: $25," you can have the sign say, for example "(Pattern Designers)'s Cat Plushies: $25," or "Cat Plushies: $25, pattern design by (Name Here)." The most clever sign I saw said something along the lines of, "(Pattern Designer) thought me up, (Plush Artist) brought me to life, Will you give me a home?"
If you're not using signs or tags, the next best option is to simply not claim it as yours. There's no need to yell at every person who walks by who the pattern designer is, but if someone asks, "Did you make this," be honest and let them know that you created it from a pattern and who provided the pattern.
I've even had people request that I send them my business cards to include with purchases in person as a way of providing credit which I'm more than happy to do. That's definitely above and beyond, but it is so very appreciated. I'm even happy to do an exchange of cards so I can hand out the plush artists card in return.
Why Don't People Credit?
I've asked this of myself quite a few times and I've narrowed it down a few possibilities.
1. It's Inconvenient
If you're wanting to post something really quickly, it can be a pain to add on the credit for the design. One thing that may make it easier is to set up shortcuts on your phone. For example, when I type w.b, my phone automatically changes it to www.BeeZeeArt.com. Another option is to friend or follow the plush artist and simple tag them. Most social media sites will start to autofill the name when you begin to tag them.
Most pattern designers don't expect you to credit us for every little thing you post like quick pictures and work in progress photos, that would be really unreasonable. But we definitely appreciate it for final, high quality images that are being shared and on the listing when the item is for sale.
2. Keeping a "Secret"
Some choose to keep their pattern designer a secret to reduce competition. The downside to this is that it hurts the pattern designer's business. As I wrote above, word of mouth advertising is huge!
Instead of trying to reduce the amount of competition, and inadvertently harming the pattern designer, I would suggest focusing more on how you can make your own product unique. There's a ton of room for variation within a single design. For example, using custom printed fabric of your own design from Spoonflower or a similar printing service is a quick way to ensure no one else will be able to make a product that looks quite like yours. Other options include special embellishments and edits to the pattern. The way you take your photos, write your descriptions, and market your products can all help set you apart from other plush artists far better than trying to keep your supplier a secret.
3. There's No Legal Reason to Do So
The reality for pattern designers such as myself is we really can't force people to provide credit for a pattern design. We can ask, beg, and plead, but at the end of the day we can't make anyone do anything. Copyright laws are very tricky to begin with and become even muddier when you look at patterns, especially those for "utilitarian" items. Other people have touched on this so if you'd like to read more about it there are several great articles available here:
I'm not going to touch on copyright, since that isn't really what this is about. The bottom line is, some people simply don't see any incentive in crediting designers if there is no legal threat forcing them to do it and as pattern designers there is very little we can do. At the end of the day it's up to each person to decide if they want to provide credit for their pattern designers or not.
Hopefully this article may help change the minds of those who don't like to provide credit to their pattern designer. There are huge benefits to the pattern designer and to the plush artists. No artists creates in a vacuum. We all rely on each other for friendship, for inspiration, for advice, and so much more. Without pattern designers, plush artists who can't or don't enjoy creating their own patterns would have nothing to sell. Without plush artists, pattern designers would have very few people to sell to. We are part of a community and we are in this crazy adventure together. My point is that whenever possible, we should work to build each other up and help each other succeed.