A letter, a lawyer, and a blank slate
I got a letter in the mail a couple of weeks ago, which never happens. Signature required no less! Turns out it was from a lawyer informing me that my shirts are a copyright infringement on another artist's work and asking me to cease and desist.
My first thought? Shut it down, leave town and maybe change my name. I felt thirty two flavours of mortified with a hint of I'm worthless and a side of what am I going to tell my followers. But by the end of the day I'd decided to stick around a while and settled for a big cry and some mind-numbing Netflix.
I hate upsetting people. It's upsetting. This was an artist I looked up to, an artist who's work I admired, an artist who's work I had emulated thinking it was OK because it was a different city and my own writing and my own pictures and other people said so and all kinds of other reasons that seemed reasonable at the time. It was an honest mistake, but that's the thing about mistakes... it doesn't matter how honest they are, they can still hurt people.
So despite it being difficult, I'm grateful that the artist came forward. The last thing I want to do is step on someone's toes or mess with their brand. I agreed to destroy my stock and start over with new designs. A new take on London landmarks. A blank slate.
With one piece of mail I'd gone from having a solid start-up to being back at the beginning. I deleted files and files of amazing promotional photos taken by my friend and fellow creator Sylvia at five|one|nine photography. I cut up over 300 shirts I'd printed for upcoming shows and removed a bunch of posts from my social media sites. To the best of my ability, I erased any evidence that my current designs even existed and let me tell you, it was painful and costly.
If there's one thing I know to be true, it's this: when times are dark, hearing or reading about how other people made it through their own dark times helps. It's a comfort in those moments to be reminded that I'm not the only one who's felt this way and inspiring to think about what other people do to stay afloat when there are rocks tied to their feet.
So, feel free to stop by here anytime to laugh and cry and feel mortified with me as I regale you with stories about how I navigate through this mess because trust me, you are not the only one.