Monday, 19 March 2018

Design and Dishonesty

What a shame that when I finally make time to check in with you all, it's to say something unpleasant...! I've been so keen to update you all on Tall Tales happenings (I've got exciting news and updates which you may skip straight to if you don't feel like reading about my 'design and dishonesty' topic...!) *

Many of you know that I am a self-employed artist working mostly with clay and mostly in miniature. I created Tall Tales several years ago and create miniature pieces for the entertainment world and also private collection. It is my private collectors that make up most of my sales and I have a personal relationship with many of you, built up over years. I appreciate you all.

Almost 3 years ago I created my own IP called 'Good Witches Bad Witches™' and I know many of you follow it and support it (in part by purchasing characters from it at my webshop). They're my own little unique creations and I've poured years of my life, blood, sweat and tears into this special unique miniature world I've created. 

I've blogged about having my designs stolen and copied before (here and before that here). It's terrible when it happens. It takes time away from my work... it confuses fans as to what my work looks like, muddies my image and loses me sales to other artists who simply steal my designs and profit from them with no thought for me - the artist who created them. 

However, every single person who has copied me has apologized and stopped when I have reached out to them.

Every single person.... but one.

That is why I don't expose the name of the people who steal and profit from my designs. Once I catch up to them and they apologize and stop I feel fine about it and have no desire to see them look bad in the art world / clay community. I don't give their name out, even when asked by curious fans. 

However, this recent tale of copycat grief is different. So I am going to use her name. 

A little over a week ago a very lovely friend of mine who is also an artist (and has bought some of my work in the past) wrote to me. She'd seen my little Good Witches Bad Witches™ chicken designs copied and sold by a woman by the name of Susan Van Tubbergen. My friend had seen her replicas of my chickens posted in the same clay Facebook groups I use - advertising them on her Etsy shop, where she had already sold some. She used the ironic caption "A very unique addition to your miniature collection." 

Now a few years ago I showed behind the scenes photos of my workspace, showing almost step-by-step images of how I had made my little chickens (which I sell here). I showed a ball, a simple 4 or 5 pronged tail added, a stubby neck added, details pushed around the neck join with a blade, tiny wings carved in and so forth. 

It was clear to me that Susan Van Tubbergen had seen these photos and used them to recreate my characters exactly and sell them on her own shop, advertising them as her own unique work. It was exactly my design. It wasn't right.

I notified Etsy and in less than an hour they'd removed her listings after seeing photos of my work and agreeing that Susan Van Tubbergen had stolen my designs, breaching copyright.

(See some side by sides).

The next day I was surprised when I received a nasty email from Susan Van Tubbergen herself, asserting that I was in turn copying an artist called Rakurit├Ąt-EventKeramik (someone I had never heard of before), and thusly she was free to go on copying me, since we're all just making miniature chickens... She attached to her email 3 photos of this other artist's work (below). 
I didn't respond. In fact I have never contacted Susan Van Tubbergen.

Then she escalated it.

Today I got an email from Etsy letting me know that Susan Van Tubbergen is taking a stand against me - arguing I need to take her to court at my expense and time, and if I can't do that then I have to fold and let her continue to make her copies of my work. I have 10 days to find a lawyer, explain my case, pay fees to said lawyer, get them to initiate a legal case etc etc.......... or else she can continue ripping me off. 

I have not yet responded to Etsy or to her.
I understand that this is not really Etsy's fault. They're almost 'piggy in the middle' and it's easier for them to ban an artist's creations from the site if there's an actual legal case made. She's counting on me not wanting to go through the time, trouble and financial cost of actually hiring legal representation.

Even though I haven't responded, she escalated it further by visiting my official Tall Tales Facebook page and posting a nasty and defamatory comment for all to see. 

So... a quick design demo..!
I've drawn a simple sketch of how I make my chickens - so you can see the basic shapes and how they are assembled.

I have sketched the basic shapes of the art chickens made by Rakurit├Ąt-EventKeramik and others (the same photos Susan Van Tubbergen attached to her email to supposedly prove I have copied someone else myself) so you can see how these designs differ entirely from my chickens and from Susan Van Tubbergen's copied versions of mine.

And I'll leave it at that. Let the court of public opinion look at all the photos above and decide. 

I work hard, I do my best and I try to be original. I love what I do and I love the people who buy and/or support my work in other ways. If someone copies me and makes a profit from it I give them a gentle prod on the shoulder and never expose them or exchange a nasty word. 

Susan Van Tubbergen is copying my designs,
Susan Van Tubbergen has sent nasty correspondence in defiance, 
Susan Van Tubbergen is telling me she's going to go on doing it and if I don't like it I can try and fight it in court.
Susan Van Tubbergen has posted a nasty defamatory comment on my official Tall Tales Facebook page - trying to damage my business.

In 10 days Etsy will have to let her re-list her chickens complete with her tagline 'very unique addition to your miniature collection' unless I can come up with the time, means, money and effort away from all my other work and responsibilities and sue her. 

On a side note I happen to have lawyers in my family and I've been assured that if I take the time I can win. Etsy's own Copyright Policies make it clear that I am in the right and can challenge her and win. And so if she insists on taking it to this unpleasant place I will. I wonder if other artists less fortunate than myself would be able to stand up to Susan Van Tubbergen?


In other news....
Hello to everyone who skipped past the unpleasantness above! And hello and thank you to those who read it and are still with me! 

In my work news, I am busily working away night and day to create you a beautiful sculpted collectible of my first witch from 'Good Witches Bad Witches™'...! It's taking me a long time as I first created her in 1:9 scale and then realised the factory in China would charge so much for versions of her in this size that it wouldn't be worth it. So I started all over again and have made her in 1:12 scale! Just like my originals! You may have caught a glimpse of her on my official Tall Tales Instagram. She's very well made - I put ever so much time and care into her. She's actually better than the original. A bit more refined and with some lovely added details to the luggage trolley she pushes. 

She will be available for pre-sales in less than a month, and I will be at Monsterpalooza where you can sign up for a pre-sale then and there, and say hi to me in person!

Love and gratitude to you all. 


Monday, 8 January 2018

A Victory for the French

I asked, you voted, I listened!

A huge thank you to every one of the 782 of you who took the time to vote in my poll. Your opinions are important to me. To everyone else (those who may have missed the poll, which was blogged about here) I had some exciting shop news. The news was that Tall Tales will, at long last be issuing affordable collectible figurines of my Good Witches Bad Witches characters. Keen to give you your favourite character first, I asked which one that was and it was Hortense, the French witch who won by 25.6% of the vote.

I will be re-sculpting Hortense these coming weeks and from there she will be cast and then created as a very limited edition run of figurines. Each one will be hand painted, signed by myself and come from me to you, shipping all over the world.

Thanks again to those who participated in the vote and apologies to those who may have missed it. Rest assured that I will eventually be making every single character available, though in limited numbers so make sure you pre-order one if it's one you love.

Pre-sales will be taken at my Tall Tales Productions webshop in the coming weeks.

See more photos of the witches of Good Witches Bad Witches at the website here.

Thanks again!

- Caroline

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Which Figurine d'ya Figure?

Hope everyone's new year is getting off on excellent footing!

If you're a fan of my witches, you have a chance to be involved in something - and it will only take a few seconds of your time! Choose a witch! No obligation to purchase.

Since I am so often asked if I sell my witches, I am finally producing Limited Edition Maquettes (figurines) of some of my witches of Good Witches Bad Witches™ so that you can collect and own them at an affordable price.

I'd love to hear from you - which witch do you want me to create first?! I have created a poll (link below) so that you can click the one you'd personally like to have the opportunity to buy first. As stated, no obligation to buy at all.

Click over and do the poll. It's just one question - which would you want available for purchase?

Details of the Witch Collectible Figurines

Some of my classic witches you've come to know and love will be re-sculpted by myself and issued as resin maquettes (this means my witch sculptures will be cast into molds, created in resin and then beautifully hand-painted). Each will be a Limited Edition piece and available to purchase through my webshop here.

Final witch will be chosen from the top three answers.
Poll closes at midnight PST on Sunday Jan 7th 2018.
No obligation to purchase.

Here are the choices! See more photos of these characters at my website here, if you like.

maquette, figurine, maquettes, hand sculpted, sculpt, sculpture, stan winston maquette, sculpey maquette, scale miniature, scale maquette, miniature figurine, miniature figure, polymer clay maquette, jordu schell maquette, gnomon maquette

Monday, 1 January 2018

Life's a Long Song

From one of my favourite song's ever, 'life's a long song' and you can 'take stock of the new day' with good cheer... Happy New Year everyone! It's 2018, and if you actually don't know this song (Life's a Long Song from the album Living in the Past) by Jethro Tull I'm chuffed to be the one to introduce you to it. Listen to it here.

I hope you all had a wonderful year and are excited about 2018 and what you can get out of it and put into it.

As you must know by now, I start my new year by blogging about what went on last year and looking ahead to the next. So this post is purely about that. Stay tuned though as I'll have news and announcements coming soon which I'll blog about this week also.

In 2018 I had many private commissions I can't share on here unfortunately and it left me with time to make only two witches this year (yep...yikes!) and also a Captain Hook maquette. The year also saw magazine features about my work including an article on the Peninsular Press, a presence at the CTN Animation Expo, some fun YouTube videos, and trips to places such as Costa Rica where I got a tremendous amount of inspiration which I'll apply to new works.

I ended the year with a fantastic night out at the Ace Theater in Los Angeles where I saw Dita Von Teese's live performance. Whilst we're on the topic of this dynamic performer, I'd like to make a small shout out to someone I consider the most uniquely imaginative artist of our time. That is Franz Szony. His style has been described as bizarre and magical, his genre 'illustrative photography' and I love his work because each image is like a window into a familiar beautiful, ethereal world of the past yet it's so fresh and new, and like nothing I've ever seen before. You should take a look at his site here. He created this wonderful image of Dita Von Teese.

The year's round up....!

Some witchy sculptures / maquettes...

Other miniature and scale set work...

Captain Hook maquette...

Some publicity and events...

My re-vamped website (find it here at

Trips and travel... ;)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

CTN Animation Expo!

As mentioned in my last post here, I have a presence at the CTN (Creative Talent Network) Animation Expo this weekend, and it begins with a soft opening tonight!

It's at the Burbank Convention Center and you find details here. You have options to get a one day pass or all three days (Fri, Sat, Sun). There are panels, presentations from some amazing animation artists, portfolio reviews, book signings... (read the Top 8 Things to do at CTN Expo here!)

My table is located at T217 which is pretty much at the entrance, right. I'm opposite Sony.

If you manage to attend CTN Animation Expo this year then please do come and say hello, and see some of my witches in the flesh (or in the clay). Also, I am unveiling a new piece for the first time at this show! Find out what it is in person, or wait until next week when I tell you about it here on this blog. Okay, here is a tiny clue as to what this piece might be.... (Clue).

Looking forward to seeing some of you soon!


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Burn Baby, Burn!

If you're familiar with me or the Tall Tales YouTube Channel, you'll know that Halloween is my favorite time of year.

Let me tell you what I got up to this spooky season and then I'll catch you up with Tall Tales news (or just scroll to the end)!

Aside from being burned at the stake as a witch (as documented in this photo), I spent the evening with a childhood idol. Yep, the witch to rule them all - Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Re-wind to when I was a scrawny little 7 year old girl in rural England. I popped into a video rental shop with my best friend Sarah Wise. We went for sweets but came out with a VHS tape of 'Elvira; Mistress of the Dark' because she looked too cool on the cover and we had to know what she was all about. I LOVED her. I loved the film. I went around using her cool Valley girl catchphrases in my squeaky little voice. When I wrote my first book 'The Witch's Day' (which got my photo in the local paper) it was with her in mind. She was a big influence. Maybe I wouldn't have created Good Witches Bad Witches ™ if it weren't for Elvira?

Now living in LA I have had the inordinate fortune of meeting the incredible lady behind her Elvira persona - Cassandra Peterson. I was introduced by someone pretty wonderful who I will blog all about (and his company - Tweeterhead) another time soon. But take a peek at his website before then...

Halloween night was spent watching Elvira (aka Cassandra Peterson) perform her fantastic show live at Knotts Scary Farm for the very last time. She was thrilling, hilarious, energetic, wonderful. The dance routines, stage sets and lighting were perfect. And in the finale she came out wearing a dazzling crystal gown, specifically made for the occasion by designer Michael Schmidt.

If you're a fan of Elvira (heck, how could you not be?) I recommend this - the definitive Elvira book. It's gorgeous. Hardback, really nice and big and filled with your favorite photos of her and tonnes of photos you haven't seen. It's amazing. I couldn't put my copy down and as soon as I'd finished thumbing through it I turned back to the beginning and went through it all over again.

You can buy it here.

Here are some of my personal photos of the event at Knotts Scary Farm, Halloween night 2017.

Meanwhile, in the world of Tall Tales Productions...

I will be attending the famous annual CTN Animation Expo this month. Founded by animation talent veteran Tina Price, CTN (Creative Talent Network) hosts this event at the Burbank Convention Center (details here) in Los Angeles and I am thrilled to have a table there this year. If you're based in LA then it's well worth a day or two (event runs Nov 17-19) as it's packed with artists and companies such as Pixar, Disney, Laika, the Jim Henson Company and so forth.

If you make it over there, come and say hi!

Until then I shall be working on something special to be unveiled there.....
elvira, elvira the witch,elvira live, elvira mistress of the dark, elvira vegas act, elvira knotts scary farm, elvira knotts berry farm, elvira halloween, elvira final performance, elvira last performance, cassandra peterson caroline mcfarlane-watts caroline mcfarlane watts cs mcfarlane-watts

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Copy That!

It's been a while since you've hard from me, I know! My apologies for not updating this blog or the Facebook page as often as I'd like. But never forget you can reach me via email or through the contact page of my website, and indeed through any social media places. :)

I took a little hiatus due to an injured arm, which I wrote about here. And then have been busy with commissions, which I'll let you know all about soon.

What else?

Well............... it's a shocker!

A well known and well respected European artist, who has published maybe two dozen books which teach people to sculpt characters using polymer clay, started plagiarizing my work and selling it.

A year ago I wrote about copyright infringement here. I was frustrated and bothered because a few more people had popped up with work that resembled mine just a little too closely for comfort, and who did not credit me as an inspiration either. This story is different. This wasn't an amateur artist who didn't know better and didn't understand copyright infringement laws. This was a career artist who had published her first book teaching others how to work with clay whilst I was still a child playing with dollhouses. She copied my characters of  Good Witches Bad Witches ™. and attended fairs and shows with these characters and boldly sold them to fans. I wont name this artist since the issue is now resolved and I don't want to embarrass her.

How did I find out?
A fan of mine from India attended one of the largest miniature shows in Europe and saw a booth set up with an array of my quirky and instantly recognisable Good Witches Bad Witches ™. She saw a sign beside them which had my name on it. She looked around to see me so that she could say hello. Many who follow this blog know that I'm a diminutive redhead. But no diminutive redhead was around. Instead, presiding over the booth was an older woman and her grey-haired husband. My fan realised what was up, snapped some photos of the witches for sale and sent them straight to me.

This artist had been recreating my designs for almost two years before I found out. She used the work in progress photos on this blog to copy every detail of my designs. That means all the research and brainstorming I put into a costume for one of my witch characters... all the thought, planning and the trials and errors of creating one were handed to her and she simply copied the design exactly without conscience and remade my work for sale. The witches were priced quite highly and after I did a little digging on the internet I found that she'd been selling them to people who believed they were buying original Caroline McFarlane-Watts art - actual character sculpts from Good Witches Bad Witches ™

Personally I see differences in this artist's work and my own. She's left fingerprints where I would not have, and the outcome is not quite as neat and clean. However, if you had seen photos of my work online and were a fan and then spotted a booth at any one of the many shows she went to with her witch characters, you would have recognized the designs, seen the sign with my name on it (!) and thought you were buying a character from Tall Tales Productions (me).

Copyright infringement and identity theft.

The matter was resolved very quickly, but not after a few weeks gathering evidence from online and several exchanges with my solicitor.

Why do I care?
I've spent years building a recognizable brand Good Witches Bad Witches ™, which is enjoyed and followed in many countries around the world. To have my characters recreated by someone else damages my brand. To have my name written on signs alongside work which is not mine nor made to my standard is damaging to my brand. To have my carefully designed characters sold at several fairs in the US and Europe cheats me out of profit for my hard work. If this wonderful fan of mine had not alerted me to this and enabled me to step in, there's a chance she could have published another tutorial book - this time showing people how to make my characters. None of this is acceptable or even legal.

So there you have it! Can you believe someone could be so thoughtless?! So brazen?!

Here are some photos we had to send her along with the cease and dissist.

I'll blog about something chirpier soon! Thank you so much to those who follow my work and actually 'get it'! I appreciate you so much. I know I say this from time to time but I really do mean it. I appreciate you all. Thank you.
- Caroline xXx

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