Thursday, 20 September 2018

A Tale of Two Sculptors

In the remote countryside of England, Great Britain a girl was born into a tiny 1000 year old rural village. Since early memory she knew two things; 1 - she was crazy about film and someday wanted to work in the film industry in some capacity - ideally writing and designing her own family/kids movies. 2 - She was fascinated by fairy-tale witches and either sketched them, wrote stories about them or even at times dressed up as one. (As a child of course!) At 8 or 9 she got a little attention in the local paper with her first book, 'The Witch's Day'. This girl grew up, traveled to Los Angeles, fought tooth and nail for a Greencard (sacrificing her life's savings to cover the costs and visa fees) and then worked every day for years creating her own IP (intellectual property) called 'Good Witches Bad Witches™'. This English girl, Caroline McFarlane-Watts (me) works 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week on this project (or making miniatures for clients in order to fund this project). I sculpt each character by hand after weeks of designing each one, researching the country she is meant to come from and writing her background. I often share images of the process in order to inspire / entertain others and to build up the interest in this witchy world.

On the other side of the world in Tehran, Iran, a girl was born at roughly the same time. Artistic like me, she grew up to be a sculptor. Not much is known to me about her life until three years ago when her success really became apparent. She become so successful with her hand-sculpted characters that she started making frequent appearances on television in Iran, including on Mehr (a news station) and on the Islamic Broadcasting Organization of Iran etc, where she is billed as a "master fantasy sculptor" who comes on the show to teach others how to create her unique designs... many various colorful female characters...
Her success isn't limited to acclaim and praise on television shows as a master fantasy sculptor. She went on to open her own gallery in Tehran, 'Gallery Padma'. Her pretty gallery is light and colorful. The shelves are lined with modern white cube shelving showing off her characters. The floor-length glass front shows off several other characters inside. This gallery is also a studio where she teaches workshops year after year - showing others how to make these characters of hers. She also sells her work to her many fans. It seems the German character 'Grimhilt' is very popular. The Irish character 'Elga' gets a lot of attention too - seen alongside her on TV during her appearances at 10 am in the homes of Iranians.

So? What's the point?

This sculptor, Sanaz Azad Heidari (مجسمه سازازازاد حیدری) didn't design any of these characters on her gallery walls, demonstrated in her numerous television appearances, taught in her many workshops and sold to her fans. All of these characters are mine. She stole the designs. Her success, her income, her acclaim, her fame... is all greater than my own. And it's based on my characters, my designs, my hard work.

I hate it when people say this, but literally it's built on my blood, sweat and tears.

Ugh. I tried really hard not to make this personal but it is so deeply personal. It's far worse than last year when a woman in the Netherlands (who had been writing and selling books about how to sculpt since before I was born), started replicating my designs and selling them at European fairs, even using my name on the banners to con people into thinking they were buying my genuine work. I wrote to her, she was remorseful. I never exposed her name when I blogged about her here. But this person in Iran,  Sanaz Azad Heidari... she wont even reply to my messages. I'll have to wade in with a lawyer and take precious time away from my work to deal with this.

Questions you may have...

Why does it matter if people copy your work?
I'm still building my IP 'Good Witches Bad Witches™' and have not even released any of the storybooks yet. It hurts my brand and affects my chances of publishing / selling the script etc if everyone and their dog is recreating my designs and putting them out there as their own.
Also, (less important) it hurts me financially. I have begun selling my characters as collectible figurines. If others replicate my work and sell then these are sales I lose out on.

Can I do anything to help?!
Help me police the copycat artists! I am offering 10% discounts FOR LIFE (or as long as I'm in business) to anyone who reports to me someone who is plagiarizing my work (who I do not already know about). So if you bring to my attention someone copying my character design work (someone I don't know about and have not addressed), then you can have 10% off anything I create forever. You can even apply it on top of sales and other coupons. If I am offering 25% off my works then you'd be able to claim 35% off.

Also, you can support my work!
Supporting includes following on social media places and / or tagging friends who might like the kind of work I do.
You could also support my work by purchasing from the store. I have one character available for pre-sale at the moment and if this run of figurines is a success then I'll be able to release many others... :)

(Social media places)
Facebook -
Instagram -
YouTube -

Why are you revealing this copycat artist's name? 
I normally would not and I deal with most copyright infringement issues privately. However, when a copycat artist contests my accusation it makes things much more difficult and as such I've been advised to openly use their name until this is resolved. It's possible their name will be edited out of this post at a future date if she stops doing what she's doing.

Why are you telling us this personal story? 
I dislike revealing too much of my personal life but if this story helps one person who loves my work and is inspired by it to STOP and reconsider copying my designs, then good. I don't mean to sound cold. I am so glad that my work makes people happy and inspires other artists. That's a wonderful thing. But to be honest, people even post public comments on my Facebook page or write to me directly and say things like "I love your work  -I'm gonna try and do that". (Arg!!!)
Just, please - be inspired, by all means ask me questions about technique and I'll be happy to answer... but create your own work. So long as you want to see me keep doing what I do, don't make it harder for me to do it. :) I really say this kindly and with appreciation that you even like my work and are taking the time to read this now.

A word of thanks
I want to thank everyone who follows my work and supports what I do. I really do appreciate you all and I try to answer comments you leave but if I ever miss a comment it's not intentional and you can always get me at my email if you need a response. Especial gratitude to everyone who has purchased a Hortense Pompeux figurine - you guys are my favorite people on Earth!

Finally, I've included some images that I am using to build my case against her if this has to go to court. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Her gallery...

Her use of my designs...

Her TV appearances...

Some more copyright infringement examples

And finally... proving (in case anyone doubted it) that it is my work. :)

laika, cs mcfarlane-watts, caroline mcfarlane-watts, tim burton, stop motion, toys and figurines, witch figurine, witch sculpt, sculpture, halloween sculpture, good witches bad witches, aardman, dreamworks, disney, halloween movies, stop motion animation, copyright, copyright infringement, copyright issues, copyright artist, copyright sculptor, copyright theft, art theft, plagiarism, plagiarizing art, maquette, tall tales, tall tales productions


Linda said...

That is horrible

Paul (Vortex42) said...

This must be enormously frustrating. B keep doing what you are doing, Caroline. I am sure you will reach your goals. You are a massive and original talent.

Unknown said...

I'm so sorry this has happened to you! It's devastating to invest everything you are and have- only to have someone try to steal it away like this. I will be sharing your story in support.

Unknown said...

Oh geez.... this is terrible. The art thief isn't even trying to make her work unique whatsoever. She's using the same facial features, props, and even color palettes. I guess this is my daily dosage of being furious with people on the internet. I'm glad that you're standing up for what's rightfully yours. We're backing you up :)

Christine said...

Her work laks the detail of your skill. It's also clear she copy's art basted off the other materials. Karma will find her.

Drora's minimundo said...

This is a most frustrating situation.
How can one so talented shamelessly steal works of art and even make a business out of it. I'll back you up. I'll share this post on my facebook
if you won't mind.
A big hug,

April said...

My heart aches for you. Such hard work over all those years, and sacrifice, to have someone else take credit and benefit. It's shameful to say the very least! Pursue her until she acknowledges her wrongdoing. Hugs to you.

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