Plagiarism Say What? What My Human Heart learned
A few weeks prior to leaving my last position I took a seat in a nice comfy office chair and I started reviewing portfolios. As I went one by one I suddenly sat looking at one of my designs that I donated to a private organization - the thing is, it was in someone eles's portfolio.
My first question was - "What is my design here?" The person that collected the portfolios, said "it was turned in someone's portfolio as their artwork". I then stopped and explained the background of that design and I proceeded to show the original artwork file on my computer and then the JPEG on my site & fan page. Since this was through where I was working it was handled appropriately on their part, but since I did that design pro-bono for a private organization that I've done work for two years now, it left some residual feelings - that I wasn't sure how to handle.
So when I got home, I searched for the right terminology to describe what just happened (go figure, so logical right?) then I immediately contacted the organization and made them aware - but that really didn't "solve" the steaming furry I had within me - I truly felt like someone stole a version of my identity, so they could become me. Crazy, right? Well - here are the facts that I had to look and digest so that I could start sorting out what I was really feeling... The facts for me were: I designed an advertisement and then gave it to the event coordinators from there the artwork that was given was used to try to obtain my position at my job - away from that organization.
I will admit - I had a pretty cool job, but nothing I would steal anyone else's artwork to obtain it. In fact, let me tell you the story of my first real design job outside of a real estate agency - it was for Pulte Homes Direct Mail. They sat me down in front of a computer with MS Publisher on it and said "design something" (this was after I was placed by a temp agency in this department to do data entry, which was death for me). I believe I was just around 21 and at that time the skull and crossbones "style" were really in. So, what did I do? I created a hot pink (and I mean as hot pink as it can get) and skull invitation as best as I could in MS Publisher and handed it in. I am absolutely positive that they did not hire me for that advertisement design - I really think they hired me because I did what was asked and I could tell the reasoning behind it. Jen, you can correct me if I am wrong, but I am positive that design was a hot mess. BUT they hired me and I went on to learn so much there and win many awards. My point in telling you this story is not to admit I designed something in super hot pink, but it's to tell you I still tried and gave it my all even if it was hot pint and super doper sucky.
So as I researched it, I found out that it truly was plagiarism - but I didn't know what to do... as a Christian or as a woman who has been pitchforked out of the cool circles before. I did know though, if I was going to react I wanted it be in a graceful way that wouldn't leave me questioning if I did the right thing. As I sat on it as the organization figured out what they were going to do, I did some digging into why this riled me up it came down to a few things who or what I think I am and who my design work is really for, let me unpack these for you - maybe you've struggled here too.
Who do I think I am or what did I think I was?
I know I am Jusika and I have landed some really cool Marketing & Graphic Design jobs thanks to my knowledge, but I really I thought I was small... a small basement level designer... truly unnoticeable, or not a very good in others eyes. Well, those are really the lies that I've been telling myself - that even my husband has been trying to break me of thinking for many years - I am pretty positive that this comes from being an over-achiever and a perfectionist, I always think I can do so much better.
The truth in what I am or who I am?
Is that I might not have 25K followers on instagram or sell a million and one prints online, but even though I know I am behind the a scene girl - I am noticed and valued in God's eyes and in reality that is all that truly matters. I started designing almost 15 years ago and each time I've gone to a new position or I have done freelance work I've put my all into it. This gift is truly that that - a gift from God. When I first started in the Graphic Design & Marketing industry I didn't have a degree, I was a self taught graphic designer and even though my knowledge & experience in Marketing & Online Marketing now supersedes any degree you could get in graphic design, it is still a gift and it's still important that that I use it when I am called to and put my all in - All in, all day and all night because why? Because God doesn't wake up and say "well, I got Jusika 65.478% today because she sinned 7 times yesterday while swearing at her Adobe Illustrator (I don't do this now, but I used to) - he gives his 100% attention, love, mercy and grace...every single day of my life...he hasn't skipped one second even when I thought he might have.
As I worked this situation realized I might not be all that small or unnoticeable and just maybe people actually do watch or admire me, my work or how I choose to handle things. Scripture warns us that the tongue is often the deadliest weapon (James 3:5-6) and I wanted to be careful not to use reckless words when approaching this situation - I even took the step of backing away from the internet and not returning phone calls on this situation until I knew I was ready. A week or so later I met up with the organization and I explained where I stood - I wasn't appreciative of my work showing up in one of their member's artwork portfolio when applying for my job BUT I did not want to have a kumbaya meeting with myself and many others to address it. What I wanted was a broad statement made to all members that any work done should not be used for their personal use or gain. I did it this way because I didn't want for this person to feel like there was a pitchforking session out for her even if it was for a valid reason - I didn't want to leave this person with that impression of me or me as a Christian because I too remember when it happened to me because I wasn't liked enough - it hurt, it was embarrassing and it changed me in negative ways that I still find myself learning from.
I love my work and I love that God has chosen me to use this gift and I want to honor him in what I do and how I act with it, I want to attempt to show the amount of grace and mercy that he shows me on a daily and I never want another woman to ever feel or seclude into her home because of how I acted - valid reasons or not. I am glad that I've been given this lesson in this timing because it feels like I've almost come full circle here thanks to God timing.