I took time off last week and it was wonderful to spend it with my kids during their spring break and my sister and her family also came to visit. We attended the White House Easter Egg Roll. It was amazing to have President Obama read Where the Wild Things Are to our kids!
I needed the time off not just because of spring break, but honestly I have been feeling slightly discouraged lately. There seem to be many, many out there who have decided to take on painting furniture as a business. I am good with that – we all should have our own style and I am sure there is room for all. There are a few issues that I am not happy about and it is time to vent (stop reading here if you aren’t into whining!)
Be original. I do have a problem with someone stealing – or attempting to steal – your identity and name. I have spent many years building up my business just to have another one pop up recently with the exact same name. When I asked the person to please change it, they added a few consonants. It is so confusing because at a quick glance, the names appear the same. I have already had a customer message her by mistake while looking for me on Facebook. This is my business I am losing, not to mention she does not paint like me and I hate to think others are viewing her work as mine. It is becoming a cut throat business with some cutting their prices to almost – seriously – $50 profit at the most. I don’t have time to work for days on a piece for a $50 profit. They have to be just slapping on paint. Others are using (stealing) photos of work that is not their own and putting it on their sites to gain followers. I can tell from a photograph whose work belongs to whom, be it Marian, Mary, Darrielle, Robin or Diane – and that is true originality. Make it your own.
This leads me to – To Paint or Not To Paint? That is the question. Yes, I am a paintaholic. Yes, I enjoy a great before and after with paint. I understand the wonders of paint. However, I do not take lovely old antiques and paint them. I rescue old pieces that have been really used and abused or in bits and pieces and put them together again. All of my pieces were originally quality crafted and have charm and elegance to restore and bring back to life. I really dislike that gorgeous old antiques with flamed wood and gorgeous grain are having paint slapped on them for a quick, small profit. Pieces that never lost their original beauty and actually have gained beauty with age. This is hard to do (believe me – I have another birthday coming up next month that puts me square into the “late forties” good God and gaining beauty with age is near impossible). I only once have ever painted a piece that I regretted painting. I did it for the Lucketts spring market and felt guilty (still do) but I needed it in my inventory and painted furniture sells. I get it. I did it. Just once. Please, let’s stop the madness! It is – forgive the pun – tarring all of us with the same brush.
I am sure that none of what I have written will make even the slightest difference but I just had to vent. Sorry folks! Favorite Find Monday will be back next week… I shall return 🙂
I am sorry that you are going through this Suzanne. I have an idea that might work for you. Check your email.
Suzanne, join the club. I feel your pain, believe me, I do. The new kids on the block who slap paint on a piece and sell it for practically nothing is putting me out of the biz. I am throwing in the towel at the end of the summer. I am much older than you, way too old and tired to keep up the pace any more with so little profit. For a while I cut my prices to compete with the non-artists. About a month ago I decided the price is the price. What’s worse is now customers that love painted furniture have come to expect deep discounts BECA– USE of the non-artists. (That’s what I call those who throw paint on without any finesse or even a finish). You are so gosh darn talented and have give me inspiration and knowledge over the last few years and I am eternally grateful for you and your blog. You are a true artist and I know how hard you’ve worked so don’t give up! Hilary–The Truffle
Thanks for your courage Suzanne. sk
I don’t have near the following as you, but I’ve had other bloggers use my watermarked photos in their blogs and not even bother to link back to my blog. Very rude! I am also experiencing the frustration with “every one” getting into the painted furniture game. I work very hard to make sure my work is of the highest quality, and it shows in comparison, but many people only see the price tag. They will choose a lesser quality job over mine based only on price. I can only hope those doing inferior work will not last long. Hang in there, I’m a big fan of your work!
Suzanne, while I understand your frustration, I seriously do not think anyone can counterfeit “The Painted Drawer”. You are one of a kind. Your work speaks for itself. Don’t get discouraged girl. Sending you a big supportive hug…O
I have been following you for a while now and I wholeheartedly agree with Traci. Your work stands out. I know it is upsetting that someone is trying to edge in on your success but that kind of person usually does not last long in any industry because they lack individuality. You have flair, taste and quality. So my advice? Keep on keeping on!
Suzanne, they say that copying is the highest form of flattery, but not your name, that is not fair unless you have it protected. I’m sure all your fans, me included, will be able to see the difference in the quality and attention to detail (never mind the love) that you put into all your pieces. I appreciate you sharing all your work, instruction and thoughts. Keep your chin up, you are truly an artist….Karen
chris aka monkey
wow i am so so sorry to hear this but like everyone else on here i can spot your work a mile away every piece you do is perfection and has your heart in it…people who would steal your name are just buttholes no two ways about it, i just hope you can outlast the buggers xx
I do not paint furniture for a living….although I am an artist….I follow your blog and a couple others….I never understood why all of you show “how to’s” …I would never do that BUT, I would teach someone who wants to pay for a class! I used to do art shows. These same types of people would go so far as to take pictures of my work!!! I had to learn from another designer how to move past that….I hope you find your balance!!!! Fondly.
Dear Suzanne….I am so sorry to hear of this happening! Bottom line? it is simply not fair at all. I love, love what you do and wish that I were closer so that I could come to visit…I only have tried to paint a very few pieces in my home and you are always there to answer questions that I have. I am not the talent that you are and I cannot imagine slapping some paint on anything to sell or compete with an artist such as you. Every day I look forward to your blog so that I can “drool” over your lovely painted furniture…oh, to have that talent! So sad that this is happening…..keep the chin up girl and keep on doing what you do so very well!!!
Some people just don’t want to work,they just want to ‘jump on someone else’s band wagon’ and ride. I am so sorry it is happening to you and any time you want to vent we are here for you. Try and have a great day and know you do a great job painting and i will try and be more watchful.
Suzanne vent away! It feels so good after you’ve put it out there. I have to agree on every level with you. As an artist, I have tried many mediums, I sew, I do mosaic pieces, I paint murals for both residential jobs as well as commercial. And what have I been doing for the past thirty years??? Painting furniture long long long before chalk paint made “artists” out of anyone that can open a can. I have always charged for my work in all avenues depending on the amount of labor. Yes, that counts me out of the market when someone wants a beautiful secretary desk for a mere $100.00. Your work is truly outstanding and full of integrity. Don’t even start “giving it away” to match someone else’s price. That customer is just not yours. Your customers will continue to flow your way. Keep on painting!
Vicky from Australia
When you work hard, have a vision for your work and produce great results people want to be you and steal your ideas etc. This happens in all fields – traditional stores, wholesaling etc So it is a HUGE compliment that someone has to take your ideas and sadly they don’t have enough creative pizazz to form their own. I agree with Karin price your work for what it is never give in to price slashing and the right people will find you. Finding well trained and good quality people and ‘stuff’ is always worth the wait. Stick to your vision and ride out the dips and you will push forward – lots of people don’t like other businesses that just take or copy and wont support them. I know this from years of being in business. Stick to your plan and never give up.
This makes me so mad! I can’t believe that someone would do that to you. It’s so rude. I could pick your pieces out of a line up, I swear. I hope you keep painting and find a way to work through this frustration. We need your talent in the world and I for one would have been lost many times without your direction. Hold your head up high, you got this! Hugs, Coco
Suzanne, I agree with the others in that your work is wonderful and unique. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I myself have a followed your blog and asked for your advice because I love your work and work every week to improve my techniques. I’m new to the industry in the past year but I feel as though I’ve finally found something I actually LOVE doing. I also refuse to offer such low prices as there is so much time that goes into finishing a piece right. I also agree that not every piece should be painted. I’ve been asked by friends a few times about painting certain antiques, and have refused. I only paint pieces that are severely damaged or out-of-date to save them and give them a second life. I could go on forever but just one more thing… For six years I owned another business that was built around a particular product that I designed. It was copied by a few others and was very frustrating. I’ve learned from that… and understand that there will always be competition and those that COPY, we just have to continue to do our best work and will be rewarded for it in the end. Stick with it… you are an INSPIRATION for so many of us.
Oh Suzanne, that’s the pits! You’re right, little will have changed because of your rant, except that you can see that good people are here, in spirit, on your side. Not much practical help, but hey? We’re with you!
Your work is art, pure and simple. They can try but they can’t master what you do, without putting in the same hard yards you have. But I get they can ride on your coat tails. In Australia there are many, many, people all slapping paint on, and they sell heaps. Their work is just trashy to be truthful, and tasteless. What I’ve discovered since trying to start refinishing to sell, is that people will happily pay peanuts for the stuff, but really aren’t keen to pay a decent amount for a beautifully finished piece – well not where I live anyway. It’s very frustrating. I’m just starting out and already encountering this issue. I can’t imagine the pain and frustration this would be causing an artisan like you, who has worked so diligently to develop their craft.
Whatever you choose to do, you can feel comforted by the fact that your work is exquisite, and you really are at the top of the business and art. Maybe start teaching classes so people will gain skills and can do their own work, thus not supporting the very people who are undermining the work of artisans.
I hope you continue to refinish furniture, because it brings delight to all of us watching you work your magic. However, you have to do what brings you joy. Sending a big Aussie hug!
Suzanne, this hurts my feelings for you! I agree with the above comment that the person who did this is not long for the craft. Running a creative business, FINDING & painting furniture is work. This person couldn’t even do the work to come up with her own name. You need to go out in your garage and look at your most recent work. Then sit down and look at your portfolio. You Love, are a Rock Star. This chic is playing in a cover band. Get it??
To address the comment regarding tutorials and why y’all do them:
If I had never read a tutorial on a blog I would not be where I am today. I am a Rock Star in my professional career. But when I went to sleep at night it just wasn’t enough. So with help for YOU and your peers, I have a new life. Now I’m a Roadie for Rock Stars. And I am eternally grateful.
[email protected] Interior Frugalista
Suzanne don’t let em get cha! Screw what other people are doing and stay true to yourself with your head held high. You are uber talented and it would be a shame not to have you here in the blogosphere. Your client’s know your value and so do those who have legitimately featured your work and follow it.
I’m sure there isn’t a blogger out there who at one time or another hasn’t had their work/photos stolen. It sucks and it’s very frustrating. But having your name stolen…that’s low.
As for prices, like you I put my heart and soul into my pieces and it’s insulting when I receive offers that don’t even cover my costs, let alone my time. Sadly oftentimes it seems the almighty dollar trumps originality, custom work with artistic flair. Hang in there girl!
If we listed the work as ‘art’ instead of ‘furniture’ maybe we’d garner more respect and appreciation…… Suzanne, your work is most definitely art.
So sorry — the imposters will never catch up with you. It does hurt when someone steals your work or uses your photos or ideas and passes them off as their own. Or steals something you wrote. That is why I have almost quit blogging, and why I made my old blog private. I have been painting furniture longer than most bloggers have been alive, and I am appalled by a lot of what I see, not only on the blogs but also in “antique malls”. Hang in there.
True artisans know when and when not to paint, and their work can always be spotted above the crowd… and you my friend are in like Flynn…. no worries! Collectors who seek true artistry will always come to the artistan because they seek quality pieces. Higher clientel reckognize good work and those are the pieces they want.in their home…. ( High End. believe that.) ….. You have the talent and know how to out last that Suzie homemaker wannabe… dont even stress over it girl, ya got what it takes!
I am So sorry to hear about what’s happening and I can hardly believe the audacity of the person who stole your name! What a creep! I echo the thoughts of others who have commented. I really appreciate the sharing you do because I am on a very limited income, and while I’m neither an artisan nor a seller, it has helped and inspired me to tackle a few projects for myself that I would otherwise have been afraid or unable to tackle. Those of us who follow you are blessed by your creativity and talent. Hang in there, girl. The copycat will get her comeuppance and those who appreciate you hard work will continue to seek you out. As for the others, well, they will get the “quality” product they are willing to pay for–the junk. Take care and keep your chin up!
Suzanne don’t be discouraged by the few but encouraged by the many of us who love and are inspired by your work. You are a true artist and are blessed to be able to do what you love!! Creativity is not always easy. Now, get back out there and stay true to yourself 🙂
I certainly don’t mind your venting. I doubt any of your other subscribers do either. You provide us with so much inspiration and are so willing to share what you have learned. I agree with some of the other comments – this lady will probably burn out soon!
I wanted to comment on reasons to paint furniture. I have just painted my Grandmother’s dining table, buffet, and China cabinet. I still have the chairs to do. I’m saving them for last, because they need some work. Other than very minor, repairs, the large pieces were in good shape. But, I HATED them. I had gotten to the point of considering selling them. The local antique dealer, who sells a lot of these pieces from the 30’s and 40s. He said I would be lucky to get $550 for them. I probably couldn’t have gotten a nice table for that! When I told my local stockist, she said I’d not get furniture of this quality affordably, so what could I do too make me want to keep it? Painting was the way I decided to go. Someone said I was brave putting a brush to my China cabinet. I never looked at it as bravery. Bravery would have been getting rid of my grandmother’s furniture. By refinishing and painting, I discovered that the buffet has that gorgeous flame pattern. It was muted out by the old varnish. I painted the main body of the piece and refinished the top, the drawers and doors. Now, I love it! I look at it all the time! To me that is a valid reason to paint a piece!
I totally understand where you are coming from. I have been feeling the same way. I even gave up the “static” locations only to get back into it just a few months later. I have moved around quite a bit the last few years, and I ended back up where I started. My business began as an antique business, no painted unless it was original. I would refinish every sad piece of furniture that I could get my hands on and transformed many into their former glory. Then I saw the popularity of painted furniture and I changed with the times. Since then, I’ve had supporters, then those who want to seriously challenge me. If I decide to paint a piece, it’s because the finish is in such disrepair that it would take a professional to fix it (such as peeling veneer)…then the overhead cost would often be more than the piece is worth. But, many people still don’t get it, though I am VERY careful about what I pick to paint, and I honestly do cringe at some of the pieces I see painted over…. However, I do have respect for the business owners’ decisions and keep my opinions to myself. Everyone sees things differently and paint can be removed. Now, I do a beautiful mix of painted and wood in my spaces. I love the warmth it creates and my sales have increased. I think displaying painted with wood helps those that don’t live in a shabby world visualize what a wonderful accent painted can be and they start to see how special these pieces are.
Your work is AMAZING! Please don’t get discouraged! I have to believe that painted is here to stay, but yes, there are SO many of us now…..I just keep trying to evolve and really try to stay original. Pinterest makes that hard in a way…but I do get tired of those that continue to emulate the ones at the top of the game. Keep your chin up and keep stroking that brush! 🙂
Oh, Suzanne…It hurts to hear these things because you give so much…and deserve only to have good things in your life. I have thoughts to share, many thoughts to share, but will save them for an email to you. But in the meantime, when I find myself frustrated because of certain aspects of life, the Serenity Prayer really does help me:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Patricia @ http://TheBlackSheepShoppe.blogspot.com
I am sorry to hear this is happening to you.
Oh boy, I totally feel your pain. I was just chatting with a friend/shopkeeper yesterday about the number of people that are painting furniture now versus a few years ago. While there are some that are quite good, a large number seem to be slapping paint on a piece and calling it done. And often it’s a piece where the cabinet doors stick, the drawers are wonky, and the resulting finish is poor. And of course it’s priced for what it is making prices on well done pieces seem extremely high. I’m hoping these people lose interest in it after a while and those of us that really have a passion for it will be the only ones left! Sorry for all you are going through! I had someone start a blog with my name with one consonant removed and another use my old logo (which was not protected, but still) which was very confusing to folks so I changed it. Ugh!
You are a wonderful artist and visionary of furniture. I admire and respect you and your other colleagues like Marian. You inspire me, but I feel as you do and would not want to steal your design and creations. It is shameful this person is trying to make a name for themselves off of your hard work and design. I know everyone here has your back in this situation. Keep your head held high and as my grandmother always told me “what comes around, goes around” and “you reap what you sow”. I truly believe in this and no good will come to this person.
Thank you so much, Tracy. I really appreciate it!
Cynthia- Clockwork Interiors
Suzanne, the quality of your pieces just leaps out at you. You’ve inspired me to make smarter and more thoughtful furniture choices. Have you thought of retailing paint? You already instruct with your blog and videos–I would imagine AS or GF would be thrilled to have you sell their paint–you already represent their product so well!! I’ve said this before … The Cream Always Rises to the Top!