On Monday morning, I stumbled on a blog post that was a letter addressed to me. (How delightful, I thought!) Unfortunately, it was not delightful.
First things first: I would always encourage people to find ways to engage with their communities and reflect on the things they love. That is what The Love Lettering Project has always been about.
I also know that there is no copyright on writing love letters.
That said, an “artist” in Toronto, the place I have been doing my Love Lettering Project in for the last eight years had “stolen/ borrowed/ paid tribute” (her words!) to The Love Lettering Project and started her own version in the east end of the city. And she received support from more than one organization to do this project.
I would always encourage people to find ways to engage with their communities, but to have a project that is so clearly the one I have been running in the same city that she is working in without even receiving an email doesn’t feel like it’s in keeping with the intention of community engagement.
(Note: She wrote that she had sent a blog comment though I have never received it).
My contact information is readily available on both this website and on The Love Lettering project website, as well as on The Love Lettering Project Facebook page. In fact, there is even an offer to collaborate or host The Love Lettering Project in numerous places on loveletteringproject.com (and there’s nothing I love more!!)
Many people, interested artists and presenters have contacted me about the project. Some have been interested in hosting the project, others wanted to share their own take on community engagement. It has always been positive and affirming and instigated wonderful dialogue and communication about what community engagement can mean.
It feels profoundly disrespectful to be copied, however good the intentions were, especially by another “artist.” It does not sit right to have one’s project and idea appropriated without a consultation or an offer of involvement, especially when external support was secured.
Copyright and/or plagiarism is complicated in art but I feel betrayed and fundamentally infringed upon.
I do not want to include this artist’s website because we all make mistakes and I would hate to be part of a full inbox of negative messages. What I do want to focus on is that a community in the east end of Toronto is engaging with the things that work in their community. And I truly do hope that this “artist” is able to find a way to continue her own work with originality, sincerity and transparency.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and The Love Lettering Project. Stay tuned for the 2013 events!
Creator of The Love Lettering Project
UPDATE (February 7, 2013): The “artist” is ending her project, giving back funding and has been asked to remove her blog by her employer. Sadly, she doesn’t seem to quite understand that there was anything wrong with her actions, but after a whirlwind week, everything seems to be settling. Thank you all again for your support.