Tagged: craft business

Can I Get in Trouble for Selling Crafts Based on Popular Characters?

Can you make things that look like copyrighted characters and sell them on Etsy? My friend is making really cool Oscar the Grouch hats, but could she can get in trouble for selling them?

copyright symbol, craft and copyrightAs a general rule, you shouldn’t sell crafts with any character, image or logo that’s not your own. Etsy can and will remove items or ban you for selling work that infringes on others’ intellectual property rights — that includes copyrights, trademarks and patents. So that includes Oscar the Grouch’s face, the Steelers’ logo, the Nike swoosh, a Jeff Koons sculpture, and on and on.

In some cases, companies even restrict the commercial use of fabric or stamps they create. You’ll often see “for private/personal use only” printed on the selvage of fabric. If you want to use commercially produced supplies in the crafts you sell, you should check for the company’s angel policy first. For example, here’s the angel policy page for EKSuccess, which is very specific about the procedure to follow if you want to sell items made with anything they produce.

Aside from the fact that Etsy can take your items down or ban you entirely for selling items with copyrighted or unlicensed images, it’s better for business to make and sell only originals anyway. By creating your own images, patterns or characters, you can establish a visual brand for yourself that’s unique and recognizable.

Instead of making plushies in the image of Sesame Street characters, create your own lovable monsters. Rather than buying commercially printed fabric, create your own patterns and designs on Spoonflower. Instead of using stamps someone else made, carve your own! When in doubt, DIY.

Caveat: I’m not a lawyer. But the folks over at the Art Law Center are.


Got a craft business question for me? Post it on Facebook or Twitter, and I might answer it here!

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my craft business chat with sister diane

It was so fun to hang out with Sister Diane last night and talk about craft business! We probably could’ve talked for hours, but somehow we kept it to 45 minutes. :) Thanks for having me, lady! And if you watched the hangout and would like to get a copy of Crafty Superstar, head over here! Here are the highlights, with links to relevant websites:

Updated East Coast Book Tour Dates

craft business book tour

Whoo! The Summit of Awesome in Washington, DC, was awesome, and now I’m working my way up the East Coast, signing my book Crafty Superstar wherever I find it. I’ve added a few more events to my lineup — here’s the list of upcoming craft workshops and appearances:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 12 — Brooklyn, NY — t.b.d. Brooklyn
    I’m putting together a totally informal Creative Business Drinkup in Greenpoint! Anyone with a creative biz is welcome.
  • Saturday, Sept. 15 — Providence, RI — Craftland
    Never been to the smallest state before, so I’m stoked to do my getting published workshop at Craftland! 3 to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Sept. 17 — Somerville, MA — Magpie
    Come hang out with me for a crafty happy hour in this hipster craft store outside Boston from 5 to 7 p.m.!
  • Sunday, Sept. 23 — Pittsburgh, PA — WildCard
    Meet-the-author crafty brunch from 12 to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 25 — Cleveland, OH — Salty Not Sweet
    A workshop on everything you need to know about craft shows (plus drinks and snacks!) 5 to 6 p.m. RSVP here!
  • Saturday, Sept. 29 — Indianapolis, IN — Homespun
    A two-hour mega-workshop about using social media and how to get published. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 7 — Columbus, OH — Wholly Craft
    I’m doing a session on social media strategies for craft businesses and hanging out 2 to 3:30pm.

East Coast Crafty Book Tour!

So, as you know, I recently gave notice at my day job. And my new craft business book just came out! One of the things I’m most excited about as I enter the wild world of full-time freelancing is a DIY book tour/road trip I’m doing in September!

Basically, I’m packing up the old Prius and going on the road, talking about craft biz, hanging out with friends and seeing much of the eastern half of the country. I’ve got a lot of gigs lined up, but I’d love to add more! Specifically, I don’t have anything lined up yet for New York City/Brooklyn, upstate New York or Boston yet. (And I’d also love to go to Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, the Southeast, the Northwest — basically everywhere.) Want me to speak at your craft store or event? Email me!

Here’s my in-progress schedule of craft workshops and appearances:

  • Saturday, Sept. 8 — Washington, DC — Summit of Awesome
    I’ll be doing a bookbinding workshop and talking about getting published at this one-day craft business conference!
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12 — Brooklyn, NY — t.b.d. Brooklyn
    I’m putting together a totally informal Creative Business Drinkup! Anyone who’s into creative entrepreneurship is welcome.
  • Saturday, Sept. 15 — Providence, RI — Craftland
    Never been to the smallest state before, so I’m stoked to do my getting published workshop at Craftland. 3 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 23 — Pittsburgh, PA — WildCard
    Meet-the-author crafty brunch! 12 to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 25 — Cleveland, OH — Salty Not Sweet
    Tentative topic: Everything you need to know about craft shows. Details are still being finalized!
  • Saturday, Sept. 29 — Indianapolis, IN — Homespun
    This is going to be a two-hour mega-workshop about using social media and how to get published. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 6 — Columbus, OH — Wholly Craft
    Details are still being finalized!

craft business events of 2011

Crafty business conferences are popping up all over the place! I’ll be appearing at some of these; all are certified awesome:

June 4-5: Midwest Craft Caucus, Columbus, OH
» http://www.midwestcraftcaucus.com

August 5-7: Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, San Francisco, CA
» http://www.creativeconferencewest.com

Sept. 23-25: Schoolhouse Craft, Seattle, WA
» http://www.schoolhousecraft.com

Oct. 20-22: Summit of Awesome, Baltimore, MD
» http://www.hellocraft.com/summit

thank you!

Just about two months after its release, Crafty Superstar is sold out! I got word this week that it’s going into a second printing very soon to meet demand.

I am absolutely blown away and so overjoyed that my book has found a place in so many people’s homes. Thank YOU for supporting me and my book! (If you still haven’t gotten a copy, I still have some signed copies left that you can order here!)