Artists Stealing from Artists
An artist I admire has recently been copied by another artist, with no attribution. The copied work is for sale, presented as original to the artist listing it. It’s a direct copy – as in brush stroke-for-brush stroke, but with the tell-tale mark-making of a novice painter. Another artist friend had her work offered as custom-order paintings in an online store, but the thief didn’t bother to take my friend’s signatures off the jpegs when he pulled them from her website and listed them in his shop. My linocut above, Winged, has been copied by two separate artists, and sold in each of their online shops. I won’t go into the options an artist has to combat thievery, because I want to focus this thought-purge on a possible source of Why artists steal from other artists.
Expand Your Perspective
Everyone who makes things with their hands – whether it’s paintings, or printmaking or sculpture – knows that the fun of creating & selling art is joined at the hip with the work of creating & selling art. You don’t become a better artist by just thinking or talking about it. If you’ve tried to jump hoops in the art world, you *know* that to be prolific, competent and selling regularly, you have to put a lot of time and effort into your hard-earned skills, as both an artist and a marketer. Awareness of this fact makes thievery even more abominable.
If you look at another artist’s successfully amazing work and the first thing that percolates up is jealousy, envy, or less than encouraging thoughts about the artist, may I suggest a palette-wipe off and start-over? Comparisons stained by envy do not nourish our creativity. Any permission grabbed to leap frog our current abilities by directly copying another artists’ more realized work, and then presenting it to the public as our own, sprouts from this jealous place.
The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them. ~Louis CK
Be of Good Use
I recently listened to the audiobook Cider House Rules, and my favorite take-away from the book was Dr. Larch’s repeated dictum to Homer that he should strive to “be of use”. As artists, we should also be of good use – to ourselves, by doing our own work – the work we know is required to hone our own skills – and for each other, because we know an artist’s path is a solo endeavor, and it’s not an easy journey with the trip-hazards of self doubt and failure along the way.
Spread Good Things
Artists should not steal from other artists. Don’t copy other paintings, and don’t paint or draw from photos you didn’t take. We should be in competition only with ourselves, to improve upon what we did last week. When we see another artist’s amazingly accomplished & successful work, we should revel in the confirmed testimonial to hard work, and the inspiration their art provides for anyone farther down the mountain, still climbing up. We should be of good use, and appreciate the beauty, and say it out loud to the artist, because we know that hill they’ve climbed. As soon as I publish this post, I’m headed over to instagram to leave some compliments on artists’ feeds. What will you do this week to combat art-jealousy, and sprinkle good things in the art world?
This is a 37 second video clip of the always-fantastic James Gurney painting a week ago on location in a bakery. If you don’t see the video below, you can watch it on his channel here. #beinspired
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Take pause, think about what you want, base your vision on your desires, what it is that you want most. Expose yourself to a variety of visual concepts. Keep a sketchbook, write down everything that is important to you visually. what color do I like? What makes that color? what happens visually with that gesture? Draw from memory. Do this constantly. What we read can inspire us, too. History, philosophy: All that we are exposed to. Everything that we are, whether drawing and painting from inspiration, life memory, draws upon everything that our mind records, just as our dreams are smorgasbords of our experience.