online selling, etsy, ethics.

Posted by resonanteye on 04/25/2012

Update: people are beginning to migrate from the (myspace )I mean – etsy. Here is a page attempting to list their new shops and venues. And other are protesting it all.

The place has always had resellers; people breaking the rules to pass off mass-produced stuff as handmade.
There’s a lot of money to be had from people who want to NOT support corporations, who want to buy local, handmade stuff. A lot of people don’t like buying things that were made for pennies by slave labor. Lots of companies know that, and will lie about how their stuff was made, to get that dollar.

The people who produce things with slave labor want that dollar, too.

“Former eBay and PayPal executive Stephanie Tilenius has joined the Board of Directors of Etsy, joining Etsy founder Rob Kalin, FlickR’s Caterina Fake, Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, and Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer (also on’s board) on the board. Tilenius left eBay last year and now heads Google’s commerce division.”

So they invaded etsy (and a few other places) and have been trying for a while now to find ways to successfully sell to people who don’t want to buy from them. Recently, an attempt to pass off furniture built in Bali as “handmade in CA” was busted. The thing is- etsy isn’t supposed to be a place to buy factory-made goods being resold. Its own mission statement says that buying direct from people who are making things by hand, not in factories, is the point.

I signed up there because of that but now…well, the fact that when confronted with a (GIANT SHITPILE OF) evidence, including an email from the man who actually makes the furniture, that the stuff is not produced in CA, and that the original seller is a fraud, etsy chose not to apologize, not to admit fault and remove the seller—but to close discussions about it and deny. (note- the fraudulent seller? is not only still open, but still in their list of “featured sellers”)
So, I’m in the process of migrating. (check out my home page– new links to my stuff for now! All my rocks, sticks, logs, and moss will stay on etsy- but anything I made, art, paintings and stuff- originals- has been moved. still debating whether to keep my prints there or not, my “production work”)

A lot of other artists and craftsmen warned me about etsy but- the traffic! People I didn’t already know were able to find my work there. I like that! I want people to see my art, and buy it, so I can pay rent and things like that. But then I started thinking about it harder.

have you ever played the game “Go”? there’s a saying in that game, don’t throw good stones after bad. like once it’s obvious your grouping will be captured, don’t continue to add more stones to it, because those will be captured too…like, if something will eat all the resources you give it STOP NOW no matter how much you’ve already invested.

here’s the forum post I made in a private thread over there:

I’m a sensitive artist-person. I’m the twee, woods-living, eccentric painter with thoreau and van gogh all up in my brain. I am a commie, a lefty pinko. I am what etsy pretends to be. I actually am that stuff.

I am sometimes unstable and I have to fight and struggle really hard to be productive, to be prolific. My life is hard work. I have arranged my life now to avoid things which throw me off, which offend my internal sense-o-meter.

I haven’t watched shows on a TV in almost a decade (I watch one or two here and there online). I don’t listen to commercial radio. I don’t shop in malls, in large corporations. I haven’t in years. I just can’t, I am too goddamn sensitive to the ramifications of it to stand it.
etsy yakI signed up on etsy because I bought their schtick. I am suddenly sad thinking about the people I have introduced to this place, being called dunces, being lied to.

I mean, it’s MY integrity at stake here. It’s MY word that people should come to etsy- every time I link to my stuff here I am sending my own friends and family’s dollar and eyes into it.

I am disturbed by all this. I knew this kind of thing was happening here but the lack of public apology and that the situation has been handled this way upsets me.

I think that my decision to stay on etsy, when I was prepared to leave before, may be the reason I have had artist’s block off and on. I think that for someone like me it is unbearable, and it kills my muse, to be associated with this kinda stuff.

The ocean actually does fucking talk to me. I know it’s cheeseball BUT, all that marketing crap is stolen from the words of people who do actually have that kind of creative impetus. That’s a real way of living- the same way there are hoboes hopping trains right now, with toothaches and no work to be had- there are some of us who hole up and just CREATE, and who feel the tides and smell the moon and stuff.

So yeah, I guess tl,dr: I don’t know if I can handle being associated with this kind of lack-of-integrity stuff just for my own mental health- and my clients and friends! fuck- you guys TRUST ME not to send you to some asshole to buy something shitty. Why would I do that? I don’t want you to stop trusting my recommendations of places and things. I only tell you about things I like! fuck that…also- I’m a tattoo artist, I don’t HAVE TO put up with bullshit.

I used to be a crusty punk WAY back when. I remember when I first saw someone with a mohawk playing “punk rock” on mtv, and thinking to myself-

they won’t keep the truth of it, the reason for it. they’re going to sell the goddamn haircut but not the POINT OF what we were trying so hard to gain-

the politics of it, the basic respect for humanity, the blistered hands from learning to build things, the DIY ethic…all gone in a flash, turned into crappy plastic boots that fall apart in a year…

but here I am, living out my idealistic teenage dreams, making things with my own two hands. so punks not dead. DIY will live forever, people making things themselves, and selling or sharing art and craft doesn’t end just because etsy sucks. no- it’s just another website dying, playing its swansong while public opinion decrees it uninteresting. and since I was making stuff before the internet even existed-

That’s fine by me. (however if you want to buy rocks or logs from me, etsy is still the place to do it.)

7 Responses to “online selling, etsy, ethics.”

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:

    it’s gotten even worse by now.


  2. and yeah these corporations think the reason people buy this stuff is the look of it- NO. it’s the fact that a corporation didn’t make it! and they can’t advertise as that, or it’s FRAUD.

    I am wondering how long it’s going to take the FTC to prick up its ears, since they have a strict definition of handmade, and about labeling where things were produced, and this verges on both deceptive advertising (illegal!) and fraud as well.


  3. and people who make thigns by hand, as artists and craftsmen, canNOT compete with slave labor, child labor, in places where things are made in factories. we just can’t buy in big enough bulk to PRICE THAT CHEAP, so we get fucked. etsy was meant to give us a venue where THAT didn’t exist, where we didn’t have to compete with mass-produced, underpriced trash. But now they’ve decided to allow it, so – there’s no point in etsy anymore then, it may as well be ebay.


  4. Jim said

    It infuriates me that big corporations somehow seem to get their filthy hands into everything! And it infuriates me even more that the laws seem to favor them, or anyone that has a lot of money. You have to be rich to become rich. So much fucking red tape and fees for various permits etc etc. It’s such a joke when these big companies take over, or model something, after a product or idea that’s intended to make the consumer believe they are a true individual. They sell these things on that basis, but it’s in major corporate stores and million fucking people buy it. I dunno, it’s all a fucking joke. You do what you do and you do it well. No one needs to tell you how to maintain your integrity or individuality.


  5. yup. screw that noise.


  6. I get really riled up about this, too. I came across another jewelry shop a few days ago that had only been open for a few months and had thousands of sales already. Naturally, I was like, “WTF! What’s their secret?!” But then I clicked on it and realized they were selling all of their products–not supplies but finished items–for about $1.99.

    Ah, yes. Their secret is the factory they use to make everything. Super!


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