People will buy my stuff because they want my work. Not someone else's work that is similar. I never believed in the idea that if someone else was copying my work that it would harm my sales. It's not like my work has a functionality to it that can be copied and made faster and cheaper. My work is not, let's say, a vacuum.
Say as a buyer I have a need. That need is to clean my floors. I really like the dyson but can't afford it. I go and buy another model that mimics the dyson but is far cheaper. In this type of market where the product in mind has a functional purpose it is possible for someone to come out with a cheaper alternative to my product and still get a similar desired result by that purchase. But with art, there's no real functional purpose to it aside from it's aesthetic value and that is in the eye of the beholder. Each artist and their respective art represents some intangible something that is the sum of more than just their tangible art. An art collector can not simply purchase a knock off piece of an artist and get that same satisfaction from it. I'm not implying that the knock off is any less in value than the original, I'm just saying it's not the original. People collect art because they value what it is, not what it does. And only the original can account for that.
In regards to the people who to create and sell copies, I don't really worry at all about them. Now that's not to say that it doesn't upset me. But I'm not upset because I think it'll reduce my efforts or hinder my success. Far from it. I'm upset because it goes against my morals and ethics. I always get upset when I see others making poor choices. Now copying is a fantastic way of learning. I don't mind copying at all, it's the profiting off copying that I mind. But that's between the copier and the copied. If the person being copied doesn't mind then why should anyone else. It's really not for me to decide what's right and wrong. Can I have an opinion about it, sure, but let's not be so hateful about it.
And to be clear, I don't mind people copying me. Not that they would. But if they did I don't think I'd mind much, and here's why. When people copy you it's because they see worth in you. It validates that you are worthy of notice. And if other people are willing to purchase work that mimics yours it just means that your worth is to a level that even stuff that is a just a copy has value. It perpetuates the hype of the original. If even a copy of your work will sell, then I don't think that you're having any trouble selling the original.
Beginner artists usually draw upon a lot of different styles within their favored scene and I think it's a very appropriate way of learning. If the beginner wants to sell that and the people he's emulating are comfortable with that I think it's all cool. But eventually he should develop a truly unique style and I think by matter of course that is inevitable. And here's the thing, if people actually want to buy something that is based on someone else's work instead of the original then I think that's cool. I doubt that those same people are buying it cause they can't or won't buy the original. And if that's the case, then it's probably because the original is so expensive that a cheaper version is just more accessible. And I don't think that is applicable in this particular market.
So that leads me to my cover band analogy. The question is, do you want to be a cover band? Someone who only does tributes, working in dives? Not many people do. But a lot of beginners start this way. I think I can say with certainty that every person that picked up a guitar the first time probably learned to play their favorite song written by someone else. But they eventually build upon that experience and create their own songs and amass their own followers. And lastly, do you think that any cover band ever threatened the existence of the real band. No.
And that's why I think we need to be less hateful.
Final thought. A few weeks ago I saw some art that was in my opinion a complete copy of a well known toy. I initially got pretty tweeked about it and consulted my good friend Josh. I chose to think through my initial negative response with someone whose opinion I respect instead of immediately airing out my reaction in the public forum. So what I'm saying is, it's ok for us all to be human and have human reactions too things. But it always helps to slow down the monkey and think things out first before we get hateful.