Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updated: Flow Magazine

I've been plagiarized in a magazine! And I feel awful about it, because it is a lovely magazine.

First, this:

Last year at the 14th St. Barnes & Noble bookstore, I found a copy of Flow's thick 5th anniversary special -- the Dutch & English edition. The Flow Book is a feast for the eyes: colorful pages filled with wrapping papers, stickers, postcards, stationery, a garland and even pop-up scenes. Gorgeous. People who love paper created a magical book for like-minded people.

So I was happy to find the magazine today (in the same bookstore). It has articles about slowing down and living the mindful life, and other stories about creative people and how they do what they do. There's a lovely little booklet insert about how to do hand lettering, with space for you to practice. 

And... there's an article about paper dolls! Including paper dolls by contemporary artists!

But first, the article. It's not signed. I think it borrows liberally from things published elsewhere. Would have been nice if the anonymous author had cited sources. 

It's hard to copy the entire thing because the 140-page magazine is so nicely bound:

I think this is an image from an auction website. 

We all copy images from the web, so what's the big deal, right?

Oh look, a little story about Fluffy Ruffles...hey wait a minute, they took my research and used it without even giving me credit! Unless someone spent time as I did a few years back, researching old newspaper articles at the New York Historical Society. I doubt it. That insipid "bunny wabbit" line is not mine, but the research and analysis is all mine:

Not cool, Flow Magazine. I first wrote about Fluffy in a small handmade zine that I gave out in my presentation at the paper doll convention in San Antonio in 2007. Last year, I wrote a new version of the story for Paperdoll Review. 

...I just realized they probably read this interview I gave to Collectors Weekly back in 2013. Ah well.  

Check out their website, http://www.flowmagazine.com/ 

to see images from the latest issue.

Update: RLC is right, and there's no two ways about it!


  1. That is really unfortunate, and it would have been nice if they credited or at least quoted you. The internet is a great learning tool, and I confess to thinking of it as a big free encyclopedia. But I do feel a commercial publication has the responsibility to be forthright or at least forthcoming about its sources.

  2. I'm glad you're calling them out on this. It's important to treat authors & artists online with the same respect as print authors & artists. Asking is such a simple thing to do -- I had a non-profit contact me about using an image I created. I couldn't give them the image they wanted (it's a business logo) but I created a custom one for them instead. They could have easily stolen the image they wanted and I would have been none the wiser. Copyright applies to the Internet just as much as it does to physical products and publications. Asking permission and correct attributions are both such simple things to do, especially in an age on instant communications.

  3. Lovely article in Collectors Weekly. You must be feeling pretty sick; after all, it takes only a little effort to ask your permission. What a shame Flow journalists aren't very ethical. But I do rather like the pussycat doll.

  4. Thanks for commiserating with me! I reached out to Collectors Weekly, and the author Hunter Oatman-Stanford said he didn't find any direct plagiarism of his article, but he noted the Flow writer did cite my research with no attribution. Such is life.

  5. I completely agree that it is unethical to quote someone else's research without proper attribution. But posting the paper dolls from Flow on your own blog also seems a little unethical to me, unless you asked permission from the publication or the artist to republish their work. If those of us who do research and publish on the internet want to be treated with respect, I think we have a obligation to respect the intellectual property of others as well.

  6. You're right. I was getting back at them for using my work without my permission. I usually shrink the image or use a watermark to prevent copying on new paper doll art. Yes, I should have turned the other cheek!

  7. I don't really think it's comparable, the fact that you posted Flows paper dolls. You gave them credit within your post. They're the ones that published someone's work without permission. You shouldn't have to go to them and say "Hey, can I get your permission to post about that time that you didn't get my permission?" LOL
    I'm sorry this happened to you. A bummer too because Flow seems like a publication that I want to run out and buy!