Five Lessons Learned from my experience with Society6

I’ve had some time to reflect on my recent experience with Society6. As I mentioned in a separate post, Society6 permanently suspended my account without warning for what they perceived as IP infringement. I had made a design that I considered parody, but that they apparently considered unacceptable. I acknowledge that it’s their right to run their business the way they like, and I can take it or leave it.

It did leave me a bit wary, though. For one thing, I had no warning about the presumed infringement. I just got an email that my account was suspended. I had to try several times to get any information, which I finally did, but I also had no chance to remedy the situation. They did tell me explicitly that I could sign up for another account, which I did, and start again from scratch.

Some lessons learned:

1) Diversify. If you’re using another company to help sell your creations, then be aware that you are at the mercy of their changing policies. Don’t rely on a single company, because at any time they could unilaterally end your relationship or change their terms to something that no longer works for you.

2) Don’t rely on a 3rd party for marketing. I do appreciate that companies like Amazon, Society6, Redbubble, etc. have a web presence with a search engine to help people find my designs. At the same time, I know that it’s important to make sure that there are a variety of ways that people can find you. In the case of these companies, their manufacturing and distribution are useful, but their marketing isn’t exclusive or even the best way to get your designs seen.

3) Don’t count on fairness. The particular design that Society6 had issue with is quite ironic. I made a design with the text “Supermeme”, which I thought was a parody of a known brand. What is ironic about it is that that company’s design is a nearly direct copy of work by Barbara Kruger, including the specific font and use of white letters on a red background. Not only that, but Society6 continues to sell items that are very similar to the Pantone company’s color swatches. I really don’t understand why my derivative design was objectionable and this one is not. But as I said already, it’s their policy not mine.

4) Find your own voice. I am not naive in thinking that all work is completely original, and I still resonate with parody. At the same time, I’m happy avoiding potential pitfalls and will work on developing my own skills. I’m sure that this is a better path in the long run anyway.

5) Control what you can. Things happen, many of which we cannot control. But we can control how we respond to these things that happen to us. I could choose to focus my mental energy on being anger or trying to prove my “right” to parody, etc. Or I could put my energy into creating something new. I choose to put my energy into myself.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you found it useful. If you have any thoughts or comments, I’d love to hear from you below.

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