It seems like a lot of people are talking about stealing pictures and ideas this week, so I wanted to weigh in on that whole conversation. This is something that applies to any platform, but it is largely about bookstagram (because pictures obvs). Basically, I think trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own is horrible. I have zero patience for people who just repost the work of others because I totally know how frustrating it is to see someone grow a big account that’s built off of your effort. We all put a ton of time into our accounts… everyone else can do the same.
A friend recently had an account with almost 700k followers try to pass off her picture as their own. Usually when I ask people why they would blatantly upload someone else’s work they’ll say it’s hard to find credit on Pinterest (which miiiiight be a clue it’s not your image) or something like this:
But I’m a bit more understanding when it comes to the possibility of “stealing ideas.” I mean, there are thousands of bookstagram accounts posting daily – it’s impossible to keep tabs on what everyone’s doing. Plus, this is obviously a community with similar interests… and you probably also follow people with similar taste on top of that. We’re going to think alike at times. So I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt if they post something super similar. And even if they are copying the exact layout and items or pose… it’s not like I own that idea. I get that there’s only so much you can do with books (especially if you’re trying to hide your face or include the typical props).
I mean, I like random things like Celtic music & history, knitting chunky blankets, fair isle sweaters, handmade mugs, flower crowns, rustic journals, candles, fairy wings & ears, mountains, medieval dresses & armor, archery, ravens & foxes, pine trees, nature in general, everything about autumn & winter, and most of the popular fandoms. These interests might make me somewhat unique in my group of friends outside of the internet, but are they even remotely original on bookstagram?
I’ve also seen a lot of new blogs pop up over the past few months with layouts or color schemes similar to mine or other friends, but have had to take a step back and acknowledge that I have a very typical blog design. I am doing absolutely nothing original here. So while it may seem like people are copying on some platforms, that’s knee-jerk response is very often not the case. And I’d hope to work on welcoming & encouraging new bloggers instead of comparing.
I’m think I’m just concerned that newer bookstagram accounts could be hesitant to post out of fear that there’s something similar they missed in the countless pictures other accounts have posted over the years. And this should be a fun hobby; not some rush to photograph everything you own in order to stake your claim. I also get that an idea might subconsciously come from scrolling through your daily feed, too! So others might disagree, but my stance is that I’d rather not jump to conclusions (and certainly not create more division or negativity). Coincidences happen and I completely get that – I’ve had 2 pictures over over the past 1.5 years that were scarily close to someone else’s and I had NO idea until someone said. That feeling sucks, but it’s even worse to think someone might have assumed it was intentional. If I know someone has done a similar picture or if I drew inspiration from a certain movie scene, I will definitely give a shoutout in the caption!
So I guess I’m hoping that people will respect other accounts enough to do their own original thing and to go directly to the person you think might have copied you if it’s really upsetting. Bookstagram has changed a bit over the past year, but I’d like to see it still be a supportive community that celebrates our common interests!
But if you really did take inspiration from someone, give credit.
That’s the point others have tried to make and I could not agree more. For example, it’s a bit disheartening to have spent a month in March brainstorming 70+ funko designs for my Etsy shop and then see so many accounts I follow suddenly making the same ones now. Obviously coincidences happen and I absolutely don’t own those designs or characters (although it did take forever to get permission from most of the authors to replicate a likeness of their characters). And it IS so much fun to see others making funkos from books we all love! For real. But it’s a bit frustrating to see accounts who follow me choosing to use the same exact parts and then posting or selling them like “here’s the design I came up with!” So at what point do we credit for inspiration?
I remember making endless lists of possible head & body combinations for each character and combing the internet to ensure nobody had ever done that particular combination anywhere on Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. Of course there can be several Etsy shops for the same products! And they’re free to sell whatever they’d like (even if it’s absolutely identical). But have you noticed how all of the candle companies at least use different labels, scents, and/or names for similar candles? I think there’s room for everyone to do a unique twist and coexist in this community.
So my point is that this experience has helped me understand how bigger accounts must feel when people copy their images or style of their whole feed (especially when it’s from people you viewed as friends). To sum this up: coincidences happen! That is totally understandable (and usually what’s happening tbh). But if someone’s creative effort directly inspired you, have some basic respect and say that in the caption. Your account doesn’t exist in a bubble in this community.
So I think purposefully copying someone else is pathetic, but also understand that we’re all doing something similar with bookstagram! And I completely get how disheartening it is to think someone is growing a platform that’s copying what might feel like an identity you’ve crafted, but I guess I’m also happy that they’re taking pictures and doing something positive with their time. However, my chill take on the bookstagram part could also be because 80% of my feed honestly feels NOTHING like me right now and I really don’t connect with it. I’ve just been posting whatever I can throw together each day and thinking I’ll actually put in effort the next week… aaaand now it’s been over 1.5 years of that? Hopefully sometime soon I can do something that reflects my actual aesthetic and stuff I like instead of just trying to get something up or feature the stuff I’m sent at the last minute (which I’m all very grateful for… not complaining in the slightest). So there’s my disclaimer completely acknowledging that others who really resonate with their work might feel differently than what I’ve said here and I could totally change my take on all this in a few months (when I’ll hopefully have a feed I love because I have planssss).
Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are! <3
Update: Please note the part where I said I owned none of the ideas, characters, or designs I chose for my custom funkos. Anyone is free to do whatever they want. My point is that if you actually DID take direct inspiration from someone for literally anything on bookstagram, it’s polite to give credit. That’s it. The post is about waaaay more than funkos. See my replies in the comments.