Artists’ Badass Responses To Craft Brand’s Work-For-Exposure Will Make Your Day

Image by Sarah Fisher and featured with permission

Large companies need to thread very carefully the next time they even consider asking artists to work for free. Karma exists—and on the internet, its impact is multifold.

First pointed out by Craft Industry Alliance, lead embroidery thread brand DMC recently started an Instagram competition calling for fans to submit their best interpretations of ‘Spring Florals’.

It all sounded like fun and games until this bit: “There will be five winners who will have their patterns turned into free patterns for the world to stitch along with you!”

Essentially, the company was requesting for artworks, as well as full rights to them, with exposure as its payment. This didn’t sit too well with creatives, of course, but instead of opting out of the contest, they decided to participate in it in their own witty ways.

One of the artists, cross-stitcher Sarah Fisher, designed a free-to-download pattern ridiculing DMC’s request for free work. Her illustration shows a tombstone that reads, “R.I.P. The artist died 2018 from exposure.”

“Here is my entry to the #dmcxstitchcontest, where the prize is them getting to use your pattern for free forever and ever on the promise of free exposure… Please repost this and consider making your own entry,” Fisher wrote in an Instagram post.

Other artists have similarly defied DMC’s attempt by creating snarky, anti-exposure pieces. Lo and behold, their voices were heard, and the company decided to edit its original Instagram post with offers of US$500 to all winners.

Have you ever wondered how to be part of our 1000 patterns project? Well here's how… We are running a community competition focussed around 'Spring Florals'. All you need to do is design your pattern and submit it to #dmcxstitchcontest 🌺 There will be five winners who will have their patterns turned into free patterns for the world to stitch along with you! 🌺 The winners of this competition will each receive a $500 prize ✨✨✨ ph: @sumbulteber #dmcembroidery #dmcthreads #dmcxstitchcontest

A post shared by DMC (@dmc_embroidery) on Apr 11, 2018 at 4:00am PDT

Floss company asked for free designs. The artists responded from r/ChoosingBeggars

Here is my entry to the #dmcxstitchcontest where the prize is them getting to use your pattern for free for ever and ever on the promise of free exposure. Want this pattern? Head to and download and pay what you want. All donations will be passed on to @artworkscincy a local place that supports paying artists a livable wage and educating them on how to navigate the business of independent art. Please repost this and consider making your own entry. #dmcembroidery #dmcthreads #dmcxstitchcontest #payartists #stitchhussy #purplehippostitches #makersgonnamake #crossstitch #crossstitching #crafty #freeexposure #makersmovement #indieartist #paidinexposure @dmc_embroidery @dmc_crafts

A post shared by Sarah Fisher (@purplehippostitches) on Apr 25, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Making progress on my submission for the #dmcxstitchcontest and it’s turning out to be one of my favorite projects. Can’t wait to finish her up tonight! 😍🌸🌼💐🌺🌿

A post shared by Hailey Hunter (@ohstitchpleaze) on Apr 24, 2018 at 8:06am PDT

This is my entry for the #dmcxstitchcontest And this is why: ‪When I first saw this “contest”, I did think about it. As a designer, being featured by @dmc_embroidery could potentially be worth the exposure. Then I realized that they don't even link to the designers on the pattern page. So….you are literally doing it for nothing. If I put a pattern on Etsy and one person buys it for $5 that's infinitely better than this. Oh, and I still get to own the rights to my art.‬ This has the potential to do even greater harm in the cross-stitch culture online. As a one-woman business who designs original pieces and sells patterns for what I think are very fair prices ($3-$7, most are $5), I am already being priced out by sketchy shops running images through programs and selling them for $1. That devalues the work of actual designers and makes people think they should be getting patterns for less. When a HUGE manufacturer and trusted brand starts giving away literally thousands of patterns for FREE… can I ever compete with that? I know people already copy shit off of Pinterst and search images and that is unfortunate but I have no control over that and hopefully they at least feel a little bad about it. Now not paying for design work is being endorsed and enabled by DMC. It just sucks. Even designers who don’t participate will be hurt by this. I love what I do but if I can't even make a (partial) living on it anymore I don't know what I'll do. Actually, I do know. I’ll have to stop. Other artists will have to stop. And stitchers deserve better than that. They deserve beautifully designed work to stitch, made by designers who get paid for their work.

A post shared by Steph Rohr (@stephxstitch) on Apr 24, 2018 at 9:33am PDT

My contribution for #dmcxstitchcontest Inspired by @stephxstitch and her statements about so called ‘exposure’. #crossstitch #xstitch #fuckingpayme EDIT: If anyone wants the pattern, DM me your email address and I’ll send you the PDF 🙂

A post shared by Liz (@lizstitches) on Apr 25, 2018 at 8:53pm PDT

Might as well keep rolling with the theme…. 🖕🏻💰

A post shared by Steph Rohr (@stephxstitch) on Apr 26, 2018 at 9:48am PDT

I’ve never made a pattern on a program before, but the #dmcxstitchcontest got me motivated 😎😎😎 #crossstitch #crossstitchersofinstagram #crossstitching @stephxstitch I feel you may appreciate this (basic as it is) 💕 #supportartists

A post shared by amystitchesthings (@amystitchesthings) on Apr 26, 2018 at 11:14am PDT

Now this a movement I can get behind…if you haven’t seen @stephxstitch ‘s post check it now. Guess where you can use ‘exposure bucks’ ….absolutely nowhere. #dmcxstitchcontest I am shocked …I thought you were better than this 😔 Artists deserve to be paid for their work just as you would pay your plumber, and anyone else that provides a service others do not wish to do or cannot do themselves. Driving traffic to your site off the backs of artists is pretty sick. You can’t tell me you don’t have money to properly license a pattern from a designer 🤬

A post shared by ☽ †hê Wh¥ §†ï†¢hêr ☾ (@thewitchystitcher) on Apr 26, 2018 at 1:13pm PDT

Quick pattern to express my disappointment in @dmc_embroidery #dmcxstitchcontest #payartists #exposegreed #xstitch #xstitchersofinstagram #crossstitch #crossstitchersofinstagram #craftivism

A post shared by Robyn (@deviantstitches) on Apr 27, 2018 at 8:10am PDT

Sharing my entry for the #dmcxstitchcontest, where the ‘prize’ is exposure, rather than being compensated for our work. As a fellow #Chicago #Stitcher, I am proud to stand with @stephxstitch as she bravely and courageously takes a stand for #artists and the #online #crossstitch #community. If you would like a copy of this #pattern, DM me and I would be happy to send it to you. #supportartists

A post shared by The ColorCoated Project (@thecolorcoatedproject) on Apr 27, 2018 at 1:50pm PDT

This little guy is inspired by @stephxstitch and her BRILLIANT response to the #dmcxstitchcontest, as well as a few recent experiences of my own. I’m gonna keep it short and sweet here, if you LOVE someone’s work then BUY a piece. Don’t offer exposure in exchange for anything. Exposure doesn’t mean shit. Support their ability to create by PAYING THEM. Peace out ✌🏼

A post shared by Penny Embroidery (@penny_embroidery) on Apr 28, 2018 at 11:22am PDT

#dmcxstitchcontest #dmc #fuckyoupayme Content and permission to make *free* cross stitch patterns by @q2qsteeb #payartists

A post shared by BackstageStitches (@backstagestitch) on Apr 29, 2018 at 8:07am PDT

Not Today Satan – this is finally up in my shop. — LINK TO SHOP IN BIO – check it out if you’re interested or just curious. Have an awesome day! #embroideryart #embroidery #embroideryhoopart #embroideryhoop #nottodaysatan #lizawickembroidery #dmcxstitchcontest

A post shared by Liza Marie Wickersty (@lickersty) on Apr 18, 2018 at 5:29pm PDT

Helping to raise awareness after a well written and researched article about the #dmcxstitchcontest by @abbyglassenberg on her #craftindustryalliance blog post. You can read more in my commentary and by following the link on my faceook page. #fuzzyfoxdesigns #payartists

A post shared by Rachel James (@fuzzyfoxdesigns) on Apr 30, 2018 at 7:12am PDT

[via Craft Industry Alliance, cover image by Sarah Fisher and featured with permission]


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