I get this sort of thing all the time:

> Dear Steam Crow – How you do X-Y-Z with your convention display?

I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but:

Innovate your own display, don’t just “borrow” idea/techniques straight from others.

But why?

Four of my exhibitor “friends” this year came up to me at SDCC and said something like this:

“Heh… we stole our display idea (or product model) from you.”

And yeah, they pretty much did to one degree or another. They busted out the pvc and basically copied our display technique, or copied our product offerings, our price points, etc..

“Hope you don’t mind…”

Yeah well, we actually do mind.

Here’s why:

  1. We’re actually innovating. That takes us a bunch of time, thought, $$$ and experimentation. That’s not free, at least not for us.
  2. It costs money. Lots and lots of things don’t work, and the unused parts eventually get tossed in the trash.
  3. It’s differentiation for our brand. It’s what makes us different and special. When people take that from us, there’s not a lot left.
  4. More and more, our “friends” just want information, with nothing in return. Feels like being used, rather than camaraderie. Strangers don’t rip us; “friends” do.
  5. If #3 isn’t enough, please realize that people are also stealing our IP. What’s left?
  6. Take ideas from somebody who can afford it. We’re small and indie, just like YOU. If you’ve got to steal ideas, do it from someone who can afford it.

“You can’t stop me.”

Nope, I can’t. I realize that it’s a competitive field. I get it. I’ve borrowed ideas myself, but I’ve tried to change them, push them further, etc.

I won’t try to stop you, or donkey punch you, or anything like that. But, I’ll probably decide you’re a user/loser. If that doesn’t matter to you, then you probably are.

And anyway, you’re diluting YOUR brand by copying us. Your shortcuts hurt you too.

“You’re an asshole.”

Yep, I’m an asshole today. You might have seen that I spent most of yesterday trying to shut down a ripper instead of getting ready for Saboten Con, Steam Punk Street, STEAMCROWEEN, APE or DesignerCon. With the day job and upcoming travel, I don’t have time for this, sincerely. If I sound impatient, it’s because I am.

Here are some other ideas for you:

  1. Experiment with your own display/product/store. Make up products, rather than just duplicating something that you’ve seen.
  2. Innovate your display. Do it different than anyone else. You’ll go further, and it won’t be copying ours.
  3. Figure out your brand, what makes it unique, and why it appeals to others. If you do that right, it won’t look like anyone else. If you can’t do that, you still have work to do.

Okay, so my preachy rant is over.

I hope you understand our point of view, and can maybe possibly see why this might be an issue.

It’s not like I don’t already spend a lot of effort helping folks. That’s what this site is all about, as well as the TINY ARMY group I founded in Phoenix.

I want you to innovate, not just copy.



Daniel m. Davis is the co-owner (with his wife Dawna) of Steam Crow LLC,  a Phoenix, Arizona studio that creates characters/stories/goods with a monster imagination.

He also creates the Monster Commute, a 5 day a week monsterpunk adventure comic. He likes pie.