Disclaimer: I don't want to be a Grinch and ruin everyone's happy vibes this Christmas. I promise there is a positive nugget somewhere within the next lines. :)
So...this is how it feels like to be ripped off. Whenever I see creatives ranting online about how hard it is to develop their style only to see other people copy them, I can never relate. At least not until yesterday. I don't even have the words to describe the feeling. Hurt? Betrayed? Panicked? I could not concentrate on emotions because what was running across my head was this: my small business is going down the drain. When my core product gets copied by a giant corporation, who am I to compete?
Of course, at first I consoled myself with the thought that "no one beats the original," but we all know that in the Philippines that is rarely the case. Here it's more like "no one beats whoever has the biggest audience," and I certainly do not have as big a reach. Then I kinda forgot about it thanks to holiday festivities. I had gatherings to attend and presents to wrap, and those tasks took my mind off the issue (or maybe it's really a non-issue and I'm the only one making a fuss...hmmmm). Business is business anyway, and competition* is an inevitable part of the game. I get inspiration from other artists' works, too, and I am generally flattered that my work tickled the imagination of someone famous. This makes me more motivated to continue creating work that inspires and resonates with people, even if that comes with the risk of being copied.
This is what was surprising to me. I've always thought that if something like this happened to me I would take the high road and ignore the incident until it dies a natural death. But in reality, if this happened six months ago, my friends' ears would have fallen off with all my ranting. I would have created a burn book a la Mean Girls just to mark this moment (rolls eyes). In reality the high road is not very visible if I feel like I'm being swallowed by quicksand, especially if the issue has direct economic effects on me (or maybe I am just over-reacting...that's another possibility). Overall, I am quite pleased with the way I handled it, for not dwelling on it and deliberately choosing to move forward. Because for true creative innovation to happen (big words!), one must be able to look past things like this and keep working to deliver something fresh, something people haven't seen, something that will take me up a notch. Challenge accepted!
* If I had my way, collaboration over competition always. Especially if the bigger party can offer the smaller party an avenue to grow.