A Little Bit of Real Talk...A Big Lesson Learned

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I don't usually write posts like this, but for the past couple days I've been between tears and bouts of anger, so I'm turning to the one place that is most therapeutic for me, my blog. Shortly after fashion week this past February, I was put in touch with a major blog agency here in NYC with the potential of being represented not only as an illustrator but as a brand, Travel Write Draw. This hybrid role of illustrator and "influencer" that I'm straddling is still incredibly niche and rarely do art agencies represent both.

About a half an hour before my meeting with said agency, I was told that the in-person "interview" had been changed to a phone call and to ring this person on their cell. Within the first few seconds on the phone I was asked to tell my story, in other words, what Travel Write Draw is all about. Not for a second did I think I was doing anything other than selling myself with the hopes of being signed... 

After finishing my whole pitch about my clients and growth strategy, I was told that I was too similar to the sole illustrator they represent, and that my only differentiating factor was my work in the travel sector. Regardless, I was asked to forward my media kit in to be passed on to their brand team internally and to follow up in a couple weeks. So I remained hopeful and reached out again just before/regarding my trip to Morocco for some thoughts on partnerships. Low and behold, the day I returned to NYC, this agency's one and only artist was embarking on their own near identical illustrated journey to the one I just took (with a sparkling new travel hashtag to boot).

My jaw just about hit the floor. It finally dawned on me that I was never interviewed with the intention of being signed. I was interviewed with their intention of gaining access to my strategy. I wasn't ever going to be added to their roster, rather they took what made me different and added it to the repertoire of their existing artist. Now I'm certainly NOT the first person this has happened to in history. The fashion industry is riddled with theft of ideas, designs, intellectual property etc, but it had yet to happen to me until now.

And so where does this leave me...I usually skim over all the heartbreak that goes on behind the scenes here on Travel Write Draw. But what good does it do anyone to pretend like everything is ok all the time?! Life isn't about not falling, it's about making the choice to get up again after you do. I'm often told that I wear my heart on my sleeve. Maybe it has something to do with being a Canadian that I just assume everyone is looking out for my best interest, but that just isn't reality. NYC is a cutthroat city. Some people say it's just business; to me it feels like dirty business.

But this post isn't about me getting knocked down or mistreated. This post is about helping my community, who also dream of being full-time illustrators, to learn from my mistake of trusting the not so trustworthy. This is about taking the awful, shitty moments and making them count for something good. You can never stop someone from taking your ideas. You can't stop anyone from trying to replicate what you do. The best and ONLY way to be irreplaceable is to be different, moreover, to be yourself.

In closing, remember to be authentic, embrace what makes you truly unique, don't try to be a second rate version of someone else; really blow out what makes you the first rate version of you!! I'm not concerned so much with what I've already done. I'm concerned with what I'm about to do next. The ones who survive are the ones who adapt and evolve. The best artists in the world are the ones who constantly reinvent while still staying true to their core message and audience. Growth is where the intrigue lies and this is just the beginning for me. Dream big, start small, be bold, be bright, be you.

Has anyone been through a similar situation before? I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Much love always,
Meag xx

14 comments:

  1. Hi~ I just typed up this long paragraph response but forgot to sign in (or save it) haha, here we go again. I follow you on IG but strangely enough have never checked out you blog. I saw you post and was more curious than anything. I'm a second year fashion design student who loves illustration, I'e ghought about things like this happening, mostly because it's such a huge problem in the fashion industry, much like cultural appropriation. This post, in my opinion is a mandatory read. It's more emotional hearing about something like this happening first hand. Despite this awful outcome, your response to it is admirable and downright crazy! Lol I'm imspired and fascinated by your optimism, it motivates me to push through when things like this get me down. Especially since that agency targeted you as an individual, and that's on of the most important parts of a person, their ability to be unique. I'm grateful for your honesty and bravery. From one Canadian to another, I really hope you follow through and push through this moment in time to the next bigger and better one!

    Thank you again for sharing and inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Jessica S you are so very welcome. I'm relieved to know this resonated so positively with you. I have to believe that things like this happen for a reason and that this is my hurtle to overcome. We can't let these things define us or else the perpetrator wins. We rise above and move on to better things xx

      Delete
  2. I really hate to hear that happened! I as an artist often worry about the possibility of being replicated. I understand your frustration and don't see it as you wearing your heart on your sleeve. You are human and sometimes we need to vent things out so we don't bottle it up. Keep pressing on girl and do you! Your work is beautiful and I can tell it comes from the heart. No one can take that from you or replicate it. I believe I know the artist you are referring to and they may not be aware of what happened. If they do, l totally see them differently. At the end of the day you are still a unique individual and authenticity will win.

    Thank you for sharing and keep being you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Christina Scott thank you, that is so kind of you to say. My way of healing is to share the experience so that others in my community could learn from it and not go through the same thing as me. We just have to learn quickly from these things and be a bit more protective of ourselves. See the good and the bad and find the middle ground xx

      Delete
  3. That's shameless, really. Disgusting. But you know what - they will not be able to pull it off like you do, since it's not their original idea. I learned this from experience: people who 'steal' your idea may get away with it for the moment, but in the long run it'll show that they just don't have the creativity to come up with original content themselves. Just keep doing what you're doing, don't let these things bring you down - it's so cheap and so low-level... Keep believing in original quality and in professional people being able to differentiate between original and fake or stolen ideas! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Blindcopy thanks my love!! You are so right, these things DO rise to the surface eventually. All I can do is learn from the past and focus on all the good and what is next xx

      Delete
  4. Its sad to her about your experience here Meagan:( Yes, in this crazy NYC world is not easy to find trustful people especially on the "business side". I think the "bigger" and most successful you are, the more careful you have to be. That's a shame but that;s how it is unfortunately and it also makes it harder to stay who you are and keep your originality. However, I believe if you manage to stay true to your principles and to yourself, it will pay off even if somebody else tries to duplicate your ideas and copy your vision.I really want to believe that!:-) You are great Meagan and your style is one of a kind ! Keep up the wonderful work and the rest will come eventually!!:-) All the best!

    www.PurseFixation.com
    Toast your Purse with an Outfit!
    Fashion Advice, Events and more

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Purse Fixation thank you so much again for your continued support and encouraging words! They mean a lot to me xx

      Delete
  5. I'm so sorry to hear about this Meagan! The problem with working in creative industries in particular is the huge problem of idea theft that happens on both small and large scales - from taking someone's photo without properly crediting (or claiming it as their own altogether) to something as awful as this, it's definitely an issue that will not be eradicated anytime soon; not so long as it's still a dog-eat-dog world and people allow their greed to suppress their humanity. In the blogging world at least, NYC is seen as a city of glamour and opportunity - which is true in some aspects - but the reality is that, like in any big powerhouse city, it is every man for themselves and business comes before morality.

    I sincerely hope that one day there will be a bigger, better agency who care about your work and form a meaningful partnership that benefits both of you and really showcases your talent. This scheming company that's let you down doesn't realise it's their loss and in the long run, you can be often imitated but never duplicated. At least that's what I keep on telling myself as I try and navigate this exciting and eye-opening yet brutally honest industry. I know that I'll have my work stolen on more than one occasion and people will always say "there's no such thing as an original idea" as an excuse to take advantage of someone's hard work. It's sad to think that that is the inevitable truth, but like you rightly said, the ones who survive are those that adapt and evolve. Funny how we use Darwin's theory to explain how we progressed from primitive creatures to our current, "intelligent" state, but the "survival of the fittest" mantra is still relevant now.

    Best of luck!

    With love ♥︎ » Paris by Friday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Paris by Friday "their greed to suppress their humanity...business comes before morality", you hit the nail on the head my dear. You clearly know exactly what I, along with 8 million other people, are up against here in NYC. It's a sink or swim culture that is exhausting and draining. But I always remind myself that happiness and fulfilment doesn't have to be on the other side of success. Happiness starts today. Practice gratitude is my attitude xx

      Delete
  6. Naturally, I have never been in this exact situation, but I do some experience in the art world and I am so sorry that this rather common occurrence happened to you. It's absolutely unforgivable to steal creativity. Do people have no conscious? However, remember that even though this shameless act of theft is wrong, at the very least it means your ideas are worth something! They are unique. This company was jealous of YOUR beautiful mind. You are unique and you will find your way because some other company is going to realize your true value. Good luck. xoxo

    http://aroseisinbloom.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Elizabeth Rose Hisle thank you so much for the sweet words. As I mentioned above, I just hope others don't have to go through what I went through and will learn to be a bit more protective in the future xx

      Delete
  7. first time reader/commentor and this is terrible! I'm so sorry that this happened to you. If they didn't want to represent you, that's fine, but the smarter thing would have been to bring you on as a consultant because clearly you're one smart cookie! plus, even though they stole this particular strategy from you, they won't be able to replicate it in the long-run bc your growth is ever-evolving. your work is beautiful and you've gained a new reader and fan. good luck with everything!

    Kim
    http://www.kpfusion.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Kim Thomas I had a friend tell me the exact same thing lol! Time to start suggesting my consultations fees. I'm happy to hear you're onboard for the the journey and really appreciate your support. This blog is about building a community xx

      Delete

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground